14 Phrases That Instantly Reveal Someone’s Lack Of Emotional Intelligence

14 Phrases That Instantly Reveal Someone’s Lack Of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence isn’t just about being nice or touchy-feely. It’s about understanding and managing your own feelings while being aware of and responding appropriately to other people’s. It’s a crucial skill for navigating relationships, careers, and pretty much every aspect of life. So, how can you tell if someone might be lacking in the emotional intelligence department? Well, there are certain phrases that can be a major giveaway.

1. “You’re being too sensitive.”

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This classic line is often used to dismiss someone else’s feelings. It implies that their emotional reaction is exaggerated or unwarranted. People who say this lack the empathy to understand that everyone experiences emotions differently and that there’s no right or wrong way to feel. As Psychology Today notes, emotional invalidation can be incredibly painful and harmful, leaving people feeling isolated and misunderstood.

2. “I don’t care.”

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This dismissive phrase can be incredibly hurtful. It signals a complete lack of interest or concern for the other person’s thoughts, feelings, or experiences. Whether it’s about a minor inconvenience or a major life event, saying “I don’t care” shuts down communication and creates distance.

3. “It’s not a big deal.”

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Minimizing someone’s problems or concerns is a surefire way to show a lack of emotional intelligence. What might not seem like a big deal to one person could be a major source of stress or anxiety for another. Dismissing their feelings invalidates their experience and makes them feel unheard.

4. “Why are you getting so upset?”

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Questioning someone’s emotional reaction is not only insensitive but also unhelpful. It puts them on the defensive and implies that they’re overreacting. Instead of trying to understand why they’re upset, this phrase focuses on judging their response, which can escalate the situation further.

5. “That’s just how I am.”

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Using this phrase as an excuse for hurtful behavior or a lack of effort to improve is a sign of low emotional intelligence. It suggests a resistance to change and a refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions. While we all have our own personalities and quirks, emotional intelligence involves recognizing our shortcomings and striving for growth.

6. “You always/never…”

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Generalizations like these are rarely accurate and often inflammatory. They put people in a box and ignore the nuances of their behavior. People with high emotional intelligence avoid making sweeping statements and instead focus on specific instances and constructive feedback.

7. “Stop being so dramatic.”

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Accusing someone of being dramatic invalidates their emotions and makes them feel foolish for expressing themselves. It’s a dismissive tactic that can damage trust and create resentment. People with high emotional intelligence understand that everyone has different ways of processing and expressing their emotions.

8. “You’re overreacting.”

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Similar to “You’re being too sensitive,” this phrase minimizes someone’s feelings and dismisses their concerns. It’s a way of trying to control the narrative and avoid dealing with the emotional impact of the situation. People with high emotional intelligence acknowledge and validate others’ emotions, even if they don’t fully understand them.

9. “Calm down.”

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Telling someone to “calm down” when they’re already upset is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It invalidates their emotions and makes them feel like they’re not being heard. Instead of helping them regulate their emotions, it often has the opposite effect, fueling their frustration and anger.

10. “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

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Dictating how someone should or shouldn’t feel is a major red flag for low emotional intelligence. It denies their right to their own emotions and implies that they’re wrong for experiencing them. People with high emotional intelligence recognize that feelings are valid, even if they don’t personally understand or agree with them.

11. “I’m not good with emotions.”

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While it’s okay to acknowledge your limitations, using this phrase as a blanket excuse for insensitive behavior is not a sign of emotional intelligence. It suggests a lack of willingness to learn and grow in this area. Emotional intelligence can be developed with effort and practice, and it’s an important skill for building healthy relationships.

12. “I was just joking.”

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Using humor as a shield for hurtful comments is a common tactic for people with low emotional intelligence, studies have shown. They might disguise their insensitivity as playful teasing, but their words can still leave a lasting sting. People with high emotional intelligence are mindful of the impact of their words and avoid humor that could be hurtful or offensive.

13. “Whatever.”

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This dismissive word shuts down conversation and shows a lack of interest or engagement. It can be incredibly frustrating for the person on the receiving end, making them feel unimportant and unheard. People with high emotional intelligence actively listen and participate in conversations, even if they don’t necessarily agree with the other person’s perspective.

14. “It’s not my fault.”

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Refusing to take responsibility for one’s actions or their impact on others is a hallmark of low emotional intelligence. While it’s important to set boundaries and not take on the blame for things that are not our fault, emotionally intelligent people understand that their words and actions can have consequences and are willing to own up to their mistakes.

Originally from Australia, Emma Mills graduated from the University of Queensland with a dual degree in Philosophy and Applied Linguistics before moving to Los Angeles to become a professional matchmaker (a bit of a shift, obviously). Since 2015, she has helped more than 150 people find lasting love and remains passionate about bringing amazing singletons together.

Emma is also the author of the upcoming Hachette publication, "Off the Beaten Track: Finding Lasting Love in the Least Likely of Places," due out in January 2025.