If You Use These 3 Phrases, You Have Higher Emotional Intelligence Than Most, Psychologists Say

Woman speaking with high emotional intelligence

Has anyone ever told you that you’re a “people person”? Are you someone who people gravitate toward easily, and you’re able to empathize and understand the challenges that someone else is going through? Do you freely and easily share your emotions? Then you join the 36% of people worldwide who can accurately identify their emotions—research that was gathered through Dr. Travis Bradberry, an expert in emotional intelligence. But what is emotional intelligence exactly? Are there certain phrases that might showcase your emotionally intelligent traits?

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Ace Dr. Melanie McNallyclinical psychologist and author of The Emotionally Intelligent Teensays, emotional intelligence is when a person has awareness and understanding of their own internal state (thoughts, emotions, physical sensations), the ability to regulate themselves when upset or escalated and an understanding of how others might be feeling and thinking.

Psychologist Emma Seppälä, Ph.D.who teaches emotional intelligence at the Yale School of Management and is the author of SOVEREIGN: Reclaim Your Freedom, Energy & Power in a Time of Distraction, Uncertainty and Chaos (Hay House, April 23, 2024), adds another trait: connection, which she defines as the ability to communicate with others successfully, allowing everyone to feel seen, heard, valued and appreciated.

Psychologist Steven M. Sultanoff, Ph.D.a professor at Pepperdine University who includes emotional intelligence as an area of ​​expertise, breaks down the characteristics of emotional intelligence even further:

  • Empathy: you’re capable of reflecting how someone is feeling and why they feel that way without interjecting one’s own bias.

  • Persistence: you can keep going in the face of challenges and differentiate between realistic goals and unrealistic ones while working toward those realistic goals.

  • Self-motivation: you can overcome inertia, or “stuckness,” maintain progress and use uplifting emotions like joy, passion and excitement to enhance progress.

  • Self-control: you can manage your own emotions, even the powerful ones, so that decision-making ends up as a blend of emotions and cognitions.

Related: 35 Simple, Sincere Phrases To Express Empathy, According to Therapists

What Are the Benefits of Having Emotional Intelligence?

If these indications sound a lot like you, there’s a good chance that you’re emotionally intelligent, and it’s something that you’ll likely want to continue to work at and improve, especially since there are many benefits associated with this state of being.

Our experts lay out all of the tangible benefits of having high emotional intelligence:

  • Better communication and relationships with others

  • Ability to stay calm under stress

  • Improved chances of getting hired for jobs

  • Positive experiences for others after talking with you—they feel seen, heard, valued and appreciated.

  • Better empathy and understanding of others

  • Emotional self-understanding, which can guide effective decision-making

  • Persistence that leads to getting things done and achieving more goals

  • Self-motivation that fosters independence

  • Self-control that manages interpersonal relationships

In other words? If you have high emotional intelligence, you’ll be more likely to have better relationships with your partner, family members and friends, get hired for a job you desire and achieve the goals you set for yourself. And if you find that you often use the following three phrases, you could be already enjoying these benefits or on your way to them through developing your emotional intelligence.

Related: 6 Things Successful People *Always* Do in a Conversation, According to a Neuropsychotherapist

If You Use These 3 Phrases, You Have Higher Emotional Intelligence Than Most

1. An “I Feel…” Phrase

Dr. McNally says that an “I feel” statement, which includes what the individual is feeling, why they’re feeling that way and what they need, is a type of phrasing that denotes emotional intelligence. For instance, you might say, “I feel overwhelmed because the kitchen is such a mess. I would like it if you could help me clean it.”

“This shows high emotional intelligence because the person is articulating what they’re feeling and then doing something about it,” Dr. McNally says. “In contrast, someone with low emotional intelligence might avoid the kitchen because it’s too overwhelming without realizing why (low self-awareness) or they might make passive aggressive or overly aggressive comments to others about what slobs they are (lack of self-regulation) .”

2. An “I Want…” Phrase

A phrase that begins with “I want,” according to Dr. Seppälä, is often one that shows emotional intelligence. She explains that an “I want” phrase could be the expression of anything one wants, from the simple to the more complex.

“Embracing ‘I want’ demonstrates being in tune with oneself and having the ability to validate and respect one’s desires,” she says.

3. “Hello—How Are You Today?”

With this phrase, Dr. Sultanoff says that an emotionally intelligent person shows curiosity. “They really mean it, unlike the lip service we often hear,” he says. “They look into your eyes and are interested in your actions.”

Related: Want to Display Your Active Listening Skills? Try Using These 33 Powerful Phrases

Why Do Some People Have Higher Emotional Intelligence Than Others?

“Emotional intelligence starts at home,” Dr. McNally says. “Kids learn it from their parents, so when they have ones who model healthy self-awareness, good self-regulation skills and have strong interpersonal skills, they’ll likely grow into adults with high emotional intelligence.”

Additionally, we can learn emotional intelligence at school, from friends, colleagues and media consumption like books, television, movies and social media, as Dr. McNally details.

As Dr. Sultanoff states, emotional intelligence can be developed, but it takes ongoing effort and practice like learning any performance-based activity, such as playing a musical instrument, playing a sport or becoming a professional (ie a doctor, nurse, therapist, etc.).

“Emotional intelligence is most effective when it becomes part of the fabric of one’s life,” he reflects. “That means it is integrated into one’s being and is not turned on or off. It simply ‘is’ part of one’s being.”

Next up, learn more about the habits of emotionally intelligent people.


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