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  • Writer's pictureChuck Cusumano

12 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Do

By Jillian Broaddus and Chuck Cusumano

We’ve been teasing our release of an Emotional Intelligence Assessment for a while, with blogs all about what EI is, how it differs from EQ, and even what it means to be paid in emotional salary.


This blog continues the theme by creating a list of what emotionally intelligent people do.  By aggregating research from CNBC, Huff Post, TalentSmartEQ, and more on what emotionally intelligent people DON’T do, we decided to generate a list of how to spot high EQs in the wild – and how to nurture your own EI:


  1. They focus on others – avoiding getting wrapped up in their own worlds, and instead focusing on celebrating others, serving others, and putting others before themselves.

  2. They respect others’ opinions – without trying to force their own thoughts or judgments on anyone else. They engage in respectful conversation with others, whether they agree on any given subject matter or not.

  3. They find their self-worth from within – and their confidence is palpable. They don’t let others’ negativity steal their joy, and they spread light wherever possible.

  4. They go out of their way to help – nothing is outside the realm of their responsibility. Whether helping a stranger on the street or pitching in on a task at work beyond their usual scope, they are quick to lend a helping hand wherever needed.

  5. They choose peace – meaning they forgive quickly (although they don’t necessarily need to forget), and they choose their battles wisely. They’re more focused on the bigger picture than in satisfying their egos by being right.

  6. They choose their friends wisely – and know that those closest to them will affect their ways of thinking and acting. So, they avoid negativity and those who drain their energy.

  7. They remain positive – by not only avoiding negative people, but in also prioritizing living in the present, not dwelling on problems, and letting go of grudges.

  8. They choose realistic goals – and remain motivated to achieve them. They have no problem saying “no” to things that don’t align with their trajectories, and act in accordance with achieving anything they seek.

  9. They listen – they really listen.  They avoid letting distractions (of which there are many in the world today) get in the way of conversations with others.  When you speak with an emotionally intelligent individual, they make you feel important.

  10. They stay classy – they never stoop low, degrade, or rely on tasteless jokes to entertain.  They remain respectful in all engagements, even when the boss isn’t watching. 

  11. They remain open – to feedback, to changing their own points of view when given new information, and to change.  They have growth mindsets (versus fixed mindsets) and know that everything – feelings, opinions, life – is fluid.

  12. They embrace all emotions – they know that permanent happiness is not realistic.  They ride the highs and lows, and know that no feeling is forever.


We know – this seems like a lot.  And it should be!  Because Emotional Intelligence is something we all work toward improving for life. 


If you need a bite-sized place to start, we recommend choosing one of the twelve points above, and working on it for one month.  See when your actions align well with it – and when they don’t.  Journal, work with a coach (email us at, and we’d be happy to help!), and document your improvement.  Then, the next month, choose another area to tackle.  You got this! 

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