It’s not hard to understand the role of emotional intelligence when it comes to success: Whether you’re born with an abundance or you have to work hard to develop a smaller share, it’s important to have at least a degree of it.
Emotional intelligence is the skill of knowing why you feel the way you do and then choosing to feel different—it’s the critical factor if you want to be successful in your life and at work.
Those with high EQ find it easier to see their own weaknesses and empathize with others, while those with low EQ are more likely to be bitter and distant because of difficulties in relating to others.
Failing to cultivate it can hold you back—not only in your career and leadership, but also in your friendships and overall success.
If any of these warning signs sound familiar to you, start today to develop your emotional intelligence. Wherever you are, it’s within reach if you’re willing to work.
1. You Often Feel Others Aren’t Getting Your Point
If you constantly find that people don’t connect with your communication, ask yourself what you may need to do differently. Emotional intelligence means being honest with yourself and working on the places where you fall short.
2. You Blame Others for Your Problems
When you blame others, you give up your chance to grow. It’s easy to find a scapegoat for all your struggles or complications, but developing your emotional intelligence can help you understand that it’s much more productive to look for the cause of your issues in your own past. Blaming others often means you’re avoiding a difficult truth about yourself.
3. You’re Bad at Reading People
In business, reading people—understanding what they’re saying beyond their words—is a tremendously useful skill, and an inability to read people is a strong sign that your emotional intelligence is lacking. When you become more tuned in to your own emotions, you’ll become more proficient at reading others.
4. You’re Often Disappointed That People Don’t Understand You
When people don’t understand what you’re saying, it may mean that your way of communicating is falling short or isn’t clear. Don’t expect to interact only on your terms. Learn to communicate with your audience’s perspective in mind, not your own.
5. You’re Frequently Surprised by What You Learn About Others
Part of developing emotional intelligence is learning to recognize the patterns of people’s thoughts, words, and behavior. Understanding those patterns—and the ways in which we break them from time to time—can help you develop the kind of insight that lets you predict how people are likely to respond.
6. You Lack Empathy
People who are empathetic are able to understand how other people feel and how their own words and actions affect others. Someone with low emotional intelligence can unintentionally become a bully with jokes that feel insulting or mean-spirited to others. If you find it difficult to anticipate others’ needs, or if you sometimes find that people get angry with you and you don’t understand why, train yourself to pause before speaking to think about whom you’re talking to and how they might receive what you say.
7. You Have Difficulty Forming Close Relationships
Being the best person you can be means forming connections with people at emotional levels, not just superficially. And the best way to do that is through EQ.
It will lead you to success through better interactions with others, which comes from greater empathy and understanding, which in turn comes from knowing yourself and how to manage your own emotions.
Emotional intelligence can help you realize that not everything is about you—which may sound obvious, but can take many years to sink in if you’re used to placing yourself at the center of the universe.
It’s about relationships, and relationships take two people who are willing to invest the hard work that comes with building a deeper connection.
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Photo of people talking and walking courtesy of Ben Pipe Photography/Getty Images.