Is Emotional Intelligence Genetic or Learned?

Emotional intelligence is a major life skill that can determine the outcome of many situations throughout life. So how can you strengthen yours? Or is it something that isn’t acquired but biological?

As a general rule, emotional intelligence is both genetic and learned. Personality traits that support emotional intelligence may be passed down parents. Emotional intelligence can also be acquired through life experiences. This is usually the case as it is something that tends to improve over time.

Emotional intelligence is a great skill which strengthens relationships and social skills. You might be wondering what emotional intelligence consists of and how to tell if you have it. In this article, we’ll discuss the various elements of emotional intelligence. We’ll also name several qualities that can help determine if you have it or not.

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What are the Five Elements of Emotional Intelligence?

Self Awareness

Self awareness is one of the biggest elements found with someone who is emotionally intelligent. They will check in with themselves often and will be aware of their reactions in respect to how they’re feeling in any particular situation.

Someone who is self aware will typically have good communication skills. Even if they’re not that outspoken, they will be able to approach a conversation in a constructive way.

Self Management

People who are emotionally intelligent will have great self management skills. They will take responsibility for their feelings and will be able to be objective regarding other’s actions toward them.

This is a great quality to have as it doesn’t invite any unnecessary drama into their lives. They will be able to manage their own feelings and thoughts.

Self management is sort of like the action piece to self awareness. One needs to be very aware of themselves in order to properly manage themselves.

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Of course, emotional intelligence wouldn’t be so without empathy. Empaths have the ability to sense what others are feeling.

This effects how they interact with others and can even effect their own well-being. Empathetic people will embody the emotions of those around them.

It can be a struggle with feel so deeply all the time. However, since emotionally intelligent people are self aware, they usually have the strength and ability to place boundaries where necessary, while still allowing extreme feelings of empathy.

Those with an emotional disability will have a difficult time balancing this, but it is possible for someone with some level of emotional disability to show empathy.

Social Awareness

Having social awareness is more than just having great social skills. It can involve one’s ability to appropriately judge character.

This skill usually comes from past interactions with a variety of people. Typically, a negative experience such as uncomfortable situations or someone who has tried to cause is issue between someone and their significant other can cause someone to become aware of certain behaviors that clue them in.

An emotionally intelligent person might claim to “just have a feeling” or a hunch about someone. If they have good intensions, their intuition is typically on point.

Relationship Management

When someone is emotionally intelligent, they’ll typically keep good relationships. They will be able to manage their intimate relationships effectively as well.

This will be due to their self awareness, self management and empathy toward their loved one.

emotional intelligence

Since many emotionally intelligent people can be introverts, the most difficult part of this might be communication, however, the desire to eliminate potential issues will cause them to find a way to work through that.

Relationship management skills will grow over time as understanding themselves will continuously improve as well.

Is Your Empathy Determined by Your Genes?

Not necessarily. Just like emotional intelligence itself, traits that encourage a higher sense of empathy can be inherited.

Empathy usually developed due to the individual’s upbringing and personal life experiences. It is known that those who have experienced trauma or some form of abuse/neglect tend to acquire a higher sense of empathy for others.

This is because they know what it’s like to be in emotional pain and don’t want to see others suffer. Empaths are great at putting themselves in another person’s shoes.

They will often go out of their way to offer help or will reach out to ask how people are doing.

What are the Qualities of Emotional Intelligence?

Enjoy Challenge

Emotionally intelligent people enjoy challenges and situations that encourage personal growth. This is because they are able to tell what is helpful for them long term regardless of how uncomfortable it may seem in the moment.

For this reason, they will seem to engage in difficult situations with ease and even enjoyment at times. They know they are gaining more skill than the situation is painful or difficult.

Encourage Progress

Progress is great but not always easy to achieve. Those who are emotionally intelligent will proactively seek our ways to achieve the progress they desire in any given situation.

They encourage the challenges that come with it, and expect reward for their efforts.

Emotionally intelligent people also have a tendency to not take things as personally and will treat temporary “failures” and setbacks as part of the process.

Encourage Constructive Criticism

When you’re emotionally fortified, you have more of a capacity for criticism. Emotionally intelligent people not only handle constructive criticism, but they have been known to seek it out.

This is because they are emotionally aware enough to know that their current lack of skill in any given area is not a reflection of who they are as a person.

We are always evolving so being proactive about the learning process of something does not have to be bad or negative experience.

They Know Themselves

This element ties in with self awareness as mentioned above. Knowing yourself and being brave enough to dig into past trauma will yield amazing results for the future.

Understanding why a situation might be upsetting instead of inappropriately reacting will bring more efficiency and avoid hurtful situations.

They are also aware of what they need and what they should or shouldn’t do in order to maintain their well-being.

They Respect Themselves – without being defensive or rude

Anyone can stick up for themselves if they care enough to. Emotional intelligence makes a big difference in how one goes about doing that.

Emotionally intelligent people will be able to defend themselves without being rude, insulting or coming off as aggressive.

If you or a loved one are struggling with emotional health issues, try online therapy with a professional counselor. They will help you get to the root cause of the painful cycles you’re dealing with on a daily basis much faster while creating a safe and supportive experience.


Hi, I'm Marissa! I'm passionate about mental and emotional health and want to share what I've learned over the years with others! I've seen first hand how mental health struggles can cause serious issues within relationships, work life, daily productivity, self-worth and more! I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves to bring more awareness to these life changing topics. Start your mental/emotional health journey by learning more today!

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