How To Help Someone With Low Emotional Intelligence
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Over the past few years, there has been an increase in reports of people’s emotional intelligence (EI) declining. According to one study, over half of all college students reported having low EI at some time during their undergraduate career.
While it is important to be able to recognize and control your emotions, there are times when someone else’s emotion may make you feel overwhelmed or even stressed.
When this happens, instead of helping them deal with their stress, many people with lower-than-average EI find ways to take advantage of that lack of self-control.
It seems like every story we hear about someone who was hurt by somebody with low EQ is another example of this. In these cases, the person with low EQ took advantage of the other person’s feelings for personal gain.
Fortunately, you do not have to suffer through such experiences alone. While it may be difficult to help someone with low EQ, you can avoid being involved in situations that require patience and understanding of others’ moods.
If you want to prevent more serious problems, here are some things you can do to help someone with low EQ. Starting now will save you from future heartaches! Read on for tips.
Tips for how to help someone with low emotional intelligence
Avoid arguments unless you are prepared for a very strong response.
Make eye contact
Making direct, meaningful eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to connect with someone. When you look people in their eyes, they feel seen and understood.
Making direct, meaningful eye contact is one of the most powerful ways to connect with someone. When you look people in their eyes, they feel seen and understood. This feeling is even stronger if the person looking into your eyes is not only your friend but also knows you very well – like an old acquaintance.
It’s easy to forget that this kind of connection exists when we’re young. As teenagers and adults, it can become less prevalent as relationships evolve.
But making eye contact and listening actively are things every healthy relationship should have in it. It doesn’t matter how busy your life gets or what else you might be doing - taking time to listen and watch each other's faces is worth its weight in gold.
If you're ever unsure about whether someone has low emotional intelligence, try giving them some extra attention and see how they respond.
Do not assume their feelings are the same as yours
It is very possible that you have an instinctive understanding of what emotions look like, but they may feel different for them depending on your own experiences and biases.
This can be really tough when someone else’s emotional state seems totally out of control.
They might seem angry or hurt, even if they never showed any outward signs before. They could be crying silently while interacting with you.
It can also be difficult to tell whether something made them cry or if it was just because they were always pre-programmed to do so.
You don’t know how much pain they went through to get to this point, and there’s no way you can understand everything about them.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of your own limitations in terms of reading other people’s emotions.
Be honest and straightforward
Sometimes people have low emotional intelligence (EI) which can be quite frustrating for those around them. When you try to talk with someone who seems less responsive, it may feel like there is no solution or hope.
It is important to be honest and direct when trying to help someone deal with their emotions. Avoid using vague terms such as “You need to work on your stress” or “You seem angry most of the time.”
Instead, say something like, “The other day I noticed that you had a lot of negative things in your mouth. You said very hurtful things about your friend.”
Alternatively, if you are aware of an upcoming event that person is extremely nervous about, suggest that they do some exercises to calm down. Ask whether anyone has done these before and what worked for them.
If possible, see if they would prefer talking about their feelings directly rather than doing these exercises, but either one could be helpful depending on how they respond.
Listen to them closely
When someone with low emotional intelligence is trying to talk about something they are very passionate about, it can be hard to listen because you are either too interested in what they are saying or trying to find an opportunity to speak yourself.
If you are struggling to understand their argument, ask more questions. Try asking how they arrived at that conclusion, what other people think of that idea, and if there are any examples to back up that claim.
By being aware of the outside factors, you will know how to help them see the importance of those things. For example, when I was studying psychology, my professor would always emphasize the fact that relationships are built on trust.
He would tell stories about friends he had who failed to keep promises to each other, and how this affected the rest of his life. By understanding why someone made a certain choice, you can apply that knowledge to your relationship with them.
Do not try to be a mindreader
Sometimes, people with low emotional intelligence can seem like they lack empathy or understanding of other people’s emotions. This is totally false!
People with lower EI may actually have average-or even high-levels of empathy. It’s just that they are unaware of it because they don’t know what kind of responses to expect from others.
So, when someone shows signs of sadness, they often do something such as ask why the person was sad or suggest that you probably caused the situation by… (insert comment here).
This could very well push the person into more severe reactions. They might get angry or hurt even more.
Instead of offering your unhelpful comments, try asking how the person is feeling and if there is anything that the person would like help addressing this problem with.
That way, you show some interest in their wellbeing instead of making them feel worse about themselves and their life.
Ask them about their feelings
If you notice that someone is not showing much emotion, try asking them if there is something going on at work or with your friend/family member that they are feeling stressed about.
This could be due to any number of things—a job change, divorce, death in the family, etc. Sometimes people can’t seem to find the right words for what they are feeling so they don’t show it.
If this applies to you, give them some time to talk about how they feel.
It may help them to realize that it’s normal to be upset now and then and that you are willing to listen.
Running away from your problems will only make matters worse because you’ll end up hurting others around you and yourself.
Take care of yourself by seeking outside help and resources for whatever you are struggling with.
Look for their humor
When someone with low emotional intelligence is trying to be funny, it can sometimes hurt them or others around them. They may try to laugh off something that makes you feel bad, but does not make them feel better.
They might also use sarcasm as a way to avoid dealing with things, which only adds to your stress.
If you notice anything about them that seems unusual, ask if they are okay. Is everything OK? Perhaps they could tell you more than they let themselves show.
The best time to talk to them about how they are feeling is when they are alone and calm. You do not have to speak openly about what is going on, just see if they seem in control of themselves.
Does anyone else appear to be involved in something else? Are they distracted while talking to you? If so, try to give them some space by asking if there is somewhere you could meet later. Hopefully, one day this will all go away!
Take care of yourself, and if you need help before then, seek out professional counseling or self-help groups.
Make plans and invite them along
When someone experiences low emotional intelligence, they can become increasingly irritable and short-tempered with those around them.
This is particularly true when they feel like their life is not going as planned and/or they are having difficulty moving forward in what they want to do.
When this happens, they may start to get very angry or depressed. They may even say things that hurt others’ feelings or make them feel bad about themselves or accused of doing something wrong.
If you notice signs of lower emotional intelligence, try to give these people some time and space to calm down before interacting with them again.
Ask if they are feeling better before talking to them, and if so, try to discuss their thoughts and how they were able to work through their anger.