You may be struggling with the absence of emotional smartness if you find yourself struggling to understand or manage your own emotions. The causes of low emotional intelligence are psychological, environmental, or social.
Emotional intelligence is important in every area of life as it improves communication, relationships, and decision-making either in the home, workplace, or the street.
There are several factors that can contribute to poor emotional intelligence and that is the subject of this post.
One possible cause is a lack of self-awareness. If you’re not in tune with your own emotions, it can be difficult to recognise and understand them.
This can also make it challenging to regulate your emotions or respond appropriately to the emotions of others.
Another potential cause is a lack of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
If you struggle to empathise with others, you may have difficulty understanding their emotions and responding appropriately.
This can result in conflicts and even severe relationships both in personal and professional situations.
What Causes Low Emotional Intelligence?
The causes of low emotional intelligence come under four factors – upbringing and childhood experiences, environmental, mental health, and personality conditions.
Childhood experiences can have a significant impact on emotional intelligence. Your upbringing can shape your ability to recognise and manage your emotions, as well as your ability to understand and empathise with others.
Here are two key childhood experiences that can contribute to low emotional intelligence.
The way your parents raised you can have a lasting impact on your emotional intelligence. Parents who are overly critical, dismissive, or neglectful can create an environment where emotional expression is discouraged or ignored.
This can lead to difficulties in recognising and managing emotions later in life. Conversely, parents who are overly protective or coddling can prevent children from developing emotional resilience and independence.
Children who grow up in homes where emotions are not discussed or are dismissed may struggle to recognise and manage their own emotions.
They may also have difficulty understanding and empathising with the emotions of others.
On the other hand, children who grow up in homes where emotions are discussed openly and validated may be better equipped to recognise and manage their own emotions, as well as understand and empathise with others.
Childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, or the loss of a parent, can have a profound impact on emotional development.
Children who experience trauma may struggle with trust, attachment, and emotional regulation.
They may also find it difficult to form healthy relationships later in life.
Children who experience trauma may develop coping mechanisms that are maladaptive in adulthood.
For example, they may use drugs or alcohol to numb their emotions, or they may engage in self-harm as a way of coping with emotional pain.
These coping mechanisms can interfere with your competence in emotional recognition and management in a healthy way.
The environmental factor is one of the causes of low emotional intelligence. These can include socialization and culture.
Your upbringing and socialization can have a significant impact on your emotional intelligence. Children who grow up in households where emotions are not expressed or are suppressed may struggle to understand and regulate their own emotions as adults. This can lead to difficulty in recognising the emotions in others and responding appropriately.
On the other hand, children who are encouraged to express their emotions and taught how to regulate them are more likely not to develop low emotional intelligence.
They learn how to recognise and manage their own emotions, as well as empathise with others.
Your culture can also contribute to your low emotional intelligence. Some cultures place a high value on emotional expression and encourage open displays of emotion, while others consider emotional expression to be inappropriate or even taboo.
If you come from a culture that discourages emotional expression, you may find it difficult to recognise and manage your own emotions, as well as understand the emotions of others. This can lead to a lack of emotional intelligence.
It is important to note that cultural differences should be respected and valued. However, it is also important to recognise how cultural norms can cause emotional intelligence deficiency and work towards developing skills that allow for effective emotional expression and regulation.
Mental Health Conditions
Emotional intelligence deficiency can also be caused by certain mental health conditions. Here are two common mental health conditions that can be a hindrance to becoming emotionally smart:
Depression is a mental health condition that can cause a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. It can also cause difficulty in regulating emotions, leading to a decrease in emotional intelligence.
People with depression may be poor at identifying and regulating their own emotions, as well as understanding and responding accordingly to the emotions of others. This can result to issues in forming and maintaining relationships.
Anxiety is a mental health condition that can cause excessive worry and fear about everyday situations. It can also cause physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, and a rapid heartbeat.
Anxiety can bring about a lack of emotional intelligence by making it difficult to regulate emotions and respond appropriately to social situations.
People with anxiety may struggle with social cues and may have difficulty understanding and empathising with the emotions of others.
If you are experiencing signs of depression or anxiety, your best move is to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you manage your symptoms and improve your emotional intelligence.
Individuals with low emotional intelligence often exhibit certain personality traits that contribute to their lack of emotional awareness and empathy. These traits include:
Narcissistic people have a bloated sense of self-importance and a deep need for validation and attention.
They often lack empathy for others and are unable to recognise or understand the emotions of those around them. This can lead to a lack of emotional intelligence as they are unable to connect with others on an emotional level.
Individuals with high levels of Machiavellianism are often manipulative and deceitful. They are skilled at reading the emotions of others but lack the ability to empathise with them.
This can lead to a lack of emotional intelligence as they are more focused on achieving their own goals than understanding the emotions of those around them.
Psychopathic individuals have a lack of empathy and are often unable to feel emotions themselves.
They may be skilled at manipulating others and may use their lack of emotional intelligence to their advantage. This can lead to low emotional intelligence as they are unable to understand or connect with the emotions of those around them.
Generally, individuals with low emotional intelligence often exhibit certain personality traits that contribute to their lack of emotional awareness and empathy.
These traits can include narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. By understanding these traits, you can begin to recognise the behaviours that may indicate a lack of emotional intelligence.
You now know that there are several causes of low emotional intelligence. These include lack of self-awareness, poor social skills, difficulty in managing emotions, and lack of empathy.
If you are struggling with emotional smartness, it is important to take steps to improve. This may include seeking professional help, such as therapy or coaching, or working on developing your emotional intelligence skills on your own.
Remember that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. By taking steps to improve, you can improve your relationships, communication, and overall well-being.
- What causes low emotional intelligence?
- How to Spot a Person With Low Emotional Quotient
- 11 Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence
- Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence
- Lack of Emotional Intelligence and the Impact on Team
- 10 Signs You Have Low Emotional Intelligence
Adolescent and Adult Psychologist
Pyo Merez (PsyD) is a certified adolescent and adult psychologist who has been on the frontline of helping adolescents and adults with mental health. An expert in cognitive and developmental psychology - social relationships, cultural contexts, and individual differences. He is also a speaker and panelist on issues bordering on budding young people.