The term may sound more like psycho babble more than any kind of useful, nay, helpful personality measure you may actually turn to, but emotional intelligence—or EQ—is a key trait for forming successful, mutually enjoyable friendships.
What exactly is it though? "Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and respond to others' emotions and emotional world, as well as your own feelings, perspectives, and reactions," says Jacqueline Mroz, journalist and author of Girl Talk: What Science Can Tell Us About Female Friendship. And certain personality traits are key to having it. "It's the combo of empathy, self-awareness, adaptability, selflessness, ability to manage conflict, and openness to others perspectives."
"Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and respond to others' emotions and emotional world, as well as your own feelings, perspectives, and reactions." —friendship expert Jacqueline Mroz
While a high EQ looks different for each person, there are common themes to look for. Below, Mroz shares how to tell whether you're an emotionally intelligent friend.
3 characteristics of emotionally intelligent friends.
1. You follow through and follow up
"An emotionally intelligent friend will remember the big events going on in your life and remember to ask about them," says Mroz. Like, if your pal was planning to have a DTR chat with their S.O., you'd almost certainly follow up about it if you have a high EQ. You'd also check in to see if they closed that deal they were mega-stressed over, or how they're feeling the week following a one-night stand.
And the medium for these check ins is worth noting, too. In the fast-paced, digital-first world, in-person follow-ups aren't always possible. While it's easier to send a text or an email, Mroz says a phone call is best. "You'll actually be able to hear how your friend is feeling, even if they don't outright say it."
2. You really believe that their success is your success
Good friends shouldn't minimize each other's success; they should celebrate and invest in it. Mroz says people who have a high EQ understand that surrounding themselves with good, intelligent, successful peers doesn't make them look worse by comparison. Rather, the success is reflective. "This idea is called Shine Theory and its gist is that mutually investing in another person's success makes your own network more powerful," explains Mroz.
People who have a high EQ understand that surrounding themselves with good, intelligent, successful peers doesn't make them look worse by comparison.
Sure, it can be tricky when if your friend, say, gets a book deal when you want a book deal. But if you start feeling envious, Mroz says to simply channel your inner emotional intelligence. "It's a more constructive and a higher-EQ thing to believe that if your friend get's a book deal, it will help you because you'll then have more knowledge of the publishing world," she says.
3. You communicate how you're feeling too
Many issues in friendship arise due to miscommunication or even just lack of communication. "I almost lost a friendship because I wasn't addressing what I was feeling. I felt like my friend was always on her phone when we were together, and it made me feel like she didn't actually want to spend time with me, so we stopped seeing each other as often," Mroz says. "Then, a few months later when I finally did talk to her again, I learned that she was suffering from bad health and was using her phone as a distraction."
Obviously, much of this unfortunate situation could have been avoided. "The mystery of so many friendship breakups comes down to a lack of communication," says Mroz.
But, good news: If you think your friendship EQ is low, Mroz says all is not lost. Emotional intelligence is both an innate and learned characteristic, which means you can give it a boost by being open to communicating, tackling issues of jealousy, and tuning in for the little and not-so-little things. Phew.
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