Emotional quotient (EQ) or emotional intelligence is basically the ability to manage your emotions effectively. This type of intelligence defines a person’s ability to understand their emotions and mood and develop self-regulation.

EQ allows a person to empathize with others and acknowledge the feelings of others. It also helps a person solve their problems and be able to influence most people.

A person’s intelligence is not merely measured by how many aces they get in school. Doing well academically will surely give you a head start in your career. To ensure success, intellectual intelligence (IQ) should be coupled with emotional intelligence. A successful person is technically skilled and, at the same time, knows how to maintain work-life balance.

So how do you spot a person with a low emotional quotient? Or do you think you need to improve your EQ? Read further to learn about both.

Signs of Low Emotional Intelligence

Individuals who lack emotional intelligence are basically individuals who struggle with managing their emotions, lack empathy, and are unable to understand the feelings of others. Here are five key elements to emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

If you thrive well in the key elements mentioned above, then you have high emotional intelligence. If otherwise, if you strive in at least two key elements mentioned above, it may be a sign of low EQ.

The signs of low emotional intelligence are:

1. Low Self-Awareness: Highly Opinionated

A person with lower emotional intelligence will always fight that they are right. They always find themselves arguing with others. They don’t want to listen to the opinions of other people.

This happens because they are struggling with expressing emotions or relating to the feelings of others. They are prone to focus on their mistakes and are having difficulties learning from them and moving on.

2. Lack of Empathy: Insensitive

People with lower emotional intelligence are unable to distinguish appropriate from inappropriate behavior. They often say the wrong things at the wrong time. They may say inappropriate remarks or crack a joke when a friend is grieving due to the loss of a loved one.

They become defensive if you bring up this inappropriate behavior. Since they have a poor understanding of other people’s emotions, they are most likely unable to interpret the emotional atmosphere they are in. 

3. Lack of Accountability: Blaming Others

Since they have a hard time understanding the situation of others and always want to be right, people with low emotional intelligence often cause problems. They don’t want to be accountable for the problems caused by their actions.

If a problem erupts, you will point your finger at someone. You would defend yourself by telling the others around you that you are misunderstood.

For example, you were asked to prepare dinner and burned the main course. In your defense, you tell others this is not your fault. The person at fault is the one who asked you to prepare dinner. That person cooks better, and you are just an amateur cook.

4. Poor Coping Skills: Low Motivation

People with poor emotional awareness have a hard time coping with emotional situations. They would avoid being in emotional situations at all costs. Because of this, they are more likely to hide what they feel and carry this burden with them as long as they can. 

5. Low Self-Regulation: Unpredictable Emotional Explosions

People with low emotional intelligence struggle to control, understand, and express emotions. They would react negatively because they are upset and they cannot understand what they are feeling.

They have constant and uncontrollable emotional outbursts. They get easily triggered by trivial matters, which can bother them and cause their outbursts for hours.      

6. Poor Social Skills: Relationship Problems

People with low emotional intelligence have very few friends. Sometimes, they don’t even have friends at all. This is because they are unable to share emotional connections with others.

In any relationship, emotional understanding and support are important. These essential characteristics of any relationship are difficult to comprehend for a person with low emotional intelligence.

7. Self-Centeredness: Narcissistic Tendencies

People with low emotional intelligence want to be the star of every conversation. You can easily spot them, for they are the ones doing most of the talking. They would always navigate the conversation towards themselves.

They seem to be better than everyone. Their accomplishments are better than yours. If you are an accomplished athlete, a person with low EQ will drop hints that they’re better because they’re  a triathlete.

group of friends with different emotional intelligence

What Affects a Person’s Low EQ?

There are several factors that influence a person’s developing emotional intelligence. Here are some of the reasons:

1. Parenting Style and How They Raise Children

The ability to understand and regulate emotions should have been taught to children at a very young age. This is an essential obligation of the parents or caregivers. Children should be encouraged to name, share, and express what they feel to their parents.

On the other hand, if parents have low EQ, they will struggle to raise children with a high emotional quotient. Since children learn best by example, parents who cannot manage their emotions effectively will most likely have children who will turn out the same way.

Also, parents who are very controlling or advocate physical punishment will most likely have children who will grow up with low EQ.  

2. Mental Health Issues

Difficulty in regulating emotions can be a symptom of a mental health problem. You may be experiencing depression, social anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. If you develop social anxiety because of low EQ, you become stressed out about social interactions. You avoid attending social gatherings.

There is also a link between low EQ and alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction causes changes in a person’s brain that can affect a person’s ability to manage their emotions. You resort to alcohol or drugs if you find yourself in a difficult situation.

3. Alexithymia

Alexithymia is a condition where a person has difficulties distinguishing emotional cues. Not only are they unable to name their emotions, but they also suffer from a lack of emotions. Alexithymia is caused by childhood trauma, brain injuries, or stroke.


1. Do Narcissists Have Low EQ?

The relationship between narcissism and emotional intelligence has not been studied yet. There are no studies that prove if narcissists generally have low EQ. Most studies done on this topic show that narcissists overestimate themselves as emotionally intelligent people. Since they make a big deal of themselves, they think they are good emotional self-regulators. 

2. Does Low Emotional Intelligence Mean High IQ?

Peer-reviewed studies on emotional intelligence and intellectual intelligence concluded that basic and general intelligence is necessary to be intelligent emotionally. There is a broad spectrum of human intelligence, and further study is needed to accurately identify the relationship between EQ and IQ. 

3. Can High Emotional Intelligence Be Achieved?

Having a low EQ can affect various aspects of your life. Don’t be discouraged. Having a low EQ doesn’t make you a bad person. There are ways you can increase your emotional intelligence.

Management of Low Emotional Quotient

The first step in managing your emotional intelligence is recognizing your own emotions. You should be able to name your feelings. Suppose you can manage your EQ effectively. In that case, you will be able to hold down your impulses, practice self-control when you feel difficult emotions during conflicts or arguments, and become optimistic in pursuing your goals. 

Increasing your emotional intelligence can’t be done overnight. If you are struggling with naming your emotions, being able to do this first step will be a big hurdle for you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. What’s important is you recognize your situation and that you are willing to do something about it.

Mental Health and Therapy

Having a low EQ will cause a lot of difficulties in your personal and professional relationships. You often ignore your emotions and avoid stress. If you keep pushing all these emotions down, you could end up with many mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. 

Taking the first step towards getting better is hard. If you have mental health problems, handling them by yourself will most probably not work at all. You need professional medical advice to ensure that you get better.

Helping Others with Low EQ

If you are someone who has a high EQ, it is easier for you to have a positive influence on someone with low EQ. If you have a friend who’s devastated from losing a job, you could lighten up their spirit. You can give your friend reassuring advice and constructive feedback and encourage them to accept the situation and focus on improving themselves to ensure overall success.

If you are someone with a leadership position at work, do not abuse your high EQ by manipulating or brainwashing others to your advantage.

Some Tips on How You Can Handle People with Low EQ

Accept individuality. Respect and accept the unique personality type of each person. It will be hard for them to change. It will be beneficial for both yourself and the other person to make a plan on how to achieve self-awareness. You have to be aware that you should be the bigger person and accept the situation.

Be a listening ear. Be a friend and listen to the struggles of someone who has coping issues. Help them to be self-aware. Teach them to reflect and process their emotions and what they are going through.

Be logical. Since they have problems with emotions, try to approach the situation from a logical point of view. Try talking to them by stating the facts only, without the emotions. This way, you can build better conversations with the person with low EQ.

Be Aware of Your Own Emotions

Don’t criticize yourself for having these emotions and for not understanding them. Being emotionally unintelligent is not bad, and this doesn’t make you a bad person.

Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) can match you with a therapist who can provide professional advice and help you improve your emotional intelligence and overall well-being. Remember, improving your EQ is possible. It may take some time, but you will get better if you are consistent with your therapy.

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