5 Phrases People With Low Emotional Intelligence Always Use at Work

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May 23, 2024 at 5:32AM UTC
It’s useful to understand that while the scope of emotional intelligence expands beyond language, the way a person speaks that can reveal their level of EQ.
People who use the following types of phrases are likely to have low emotional intelligence. Be on the lookout for them so you can gain a deeper understanding of social dynamics and situations, which will allow you to develop better emotional awareness yourself.

A little background on EQ

There is plenty of advice on developing emotional intelligence, but EQ can’t be faked — you have to actually care about others. “People are pretty good at recognizing when you don’t care. You can’t fake EQ. It’s pretty hard to fake empathy,” says Tamaryn de Kock, Chief of Staff at Jonar.
According to her, there's a core principle of demonstrating high EQ: “Don’t say things you don’t really mean and can’t back up through actions.” The words you speak do matter, but emotional intelligence is always contextual and involves other factors.
“When you’re working with people and emotions, there is no one solution that fits all. People are complex. Emotions are complex. The best solution is always based on understanding the person and understanding the circumstances and situation,” says de Kock.
In a post-pandemic world, professionals now have to rely on verbal communication more than other forms of interactions to nurture relationships. “Lots of the more subtle forms of communication that heavily play into understanding circumstances and situations have been lost.”
Not only is it more difficult to pick up on body language during video calls, but working mostly via email and messaging apps like Slack also strips out the tone of conversations. “Where you could once quickly glance over at a team member who was hunched over their desk frantically typing away and realize they were stressed, leaders and teammates now have to rely on active communication to identify these important pieces of information,” according to de Kock.

1. “I don’t have time for this.”/ “I don’t care.”/ “Get to the point.”

“Dismissive comments demonstrate a lack of empathy. They suggest that there has been no attempt to understand the circumstances or situation. When you don’t show an indication that you care about the things they care about, you’re telling them you don’t care about them,” says de Kock.
So pay attention to people who are quick to brush off others or interrupt them.

2. The feedback sandwich.

It turns out that using the “feedback sandwich” method to deliver constructive criticism — sandwiching a piece of negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback — can actually do more harm than good and reveal low EQ from the person using it.
“This doesn’t work,” says de Kock. “People are often stronger than you give them credit for. They don’t need to be ‘primed’ for negative feedback. The positive feedback makes no impact because we tend to focus on negative feedback and the constructive criticism is often weakened by not giving descriptive feedback in a clear, straightforward, and to-the-point manner.”

3. Monitoring/controlling phrases.

People with high EQ demonstrate trust and appreciation through the language they use. On the other hand, those who tend to lack skills in that department say things that come across as controlling or monitoring — and reveal their lack of trust.
De Kock says using phrases like “I trust you,” “I appreciate you,” and “I care about you” — if you mean them — can help foster psychological safety and demonstrate great emotional intelligence.
“These are great statements that can really help confirm or reinforce the feeling of psychological safety but they are only effective if there is a foundation of trust already,” she says.
“But the words alone are not enough. These statements have to continually be followed up with other words or actions that demonstrate you genuinely trust or care about a person. Empty statements are more detrimental than beneficial.”

4. Phrases that feign interest.

Saying things like “Tell me more about…” or “Help me better understand” or asking “What do you think?” is a telltale sign someone has a high EQ and is looking to understand others’ emotions and perspectives, avoid misunderstandings, and be better equipped to deal with a situation, according to de Kock.
But again, this is only true if they care about the answer. If someone acts like they want to learn more yet you feel their eyes are glazing over or they never reply to your message, you might be dealing with someone with low emotional intelligence.
“Don’t say these things if you don’t really care about the answer. It is demotivating to delve deeper into something only to realize the other person doesn’t really care about what you have to say.”

5. Non-apologies.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a non-apology like “I’m sorry but…” or “I’m sorry that you feel that way,” you know how much these statements can erode trust and damage a relationship.
People with lower levels of emotional intelligence tend to use those sentences. On the other hand, if you hear someone genuinely apologize, you know they have great empathy and emotional awareness.
“Honestly admitting that you made a mistake or may have been wrong about something and/or apologizing shows that you are aware of your own behaviors and the impact they may have on others,” says de Kock.
“It sets the tone of humility and sets the stage for people to ‘fess up to their mistakes. If they see you doing it, it makes it okay for them to do it as well. What’s more, sometimes you may say the wrong thing, but admitting your failure or weakness goes a long way in helping rebuild confidence and trust.”
This article originally appeared on Ladders.

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