7 Phrases People With Low Emotional Intelligence Use Every Day, According To A Harvard Psychologist

Ditch the toxic reactions and choose empathy.

couple struggling to understand each other Zamrznuti tonovi / Shutterstock

To be emotionally intelligent is to regulate your emotions and be aware of the emotions of those around you. Someone who has high emotional intelligence elicits self-awareness and empathy, whereas those with low emotional intelligence lack the necessary social cues to create long-lasting bonds. 

There are certain phrases that are signs of low emotional intelligence.

While it may seem like it would take quite a bit of time to suss out where someone falls on the emotional intelligence spectrum, according to Harvard psychologist Dr. Cortney Warren, PhD, there are certain phrases that indicate low emotional intelligence. 


1. "I'm not changing. This is who I am."

While it may be hard to hear the things you need to change or work on, it’s necessary. But those who are emotionally intelligent didn’t become that way overnight. It likely required a lot of self-reflection and willpower to grow and change their mentality. 



If this is how you respond to someone communicating your flaws, then you may lack the ability to step outside your mind and evaluate how your behavior affects others.


Dr. Warren suggests saying this instead: "I need to think more about what you're saying. I want to be open to feedback about myself, even when it's hard to hear."

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2. "I don't care how you feel."

For you to blatantly tell someone you couldn't care less about their feelings implies you simply don’t care about them at all. By saying this phrase, you exhibit selfish behavior and lack the empathy to put yourself in others’ shoes. This makes it difficult to develop strong relationships.

Instead, Dr. Warren suggests saying, "I'm sorry to hear you're feeling upset. How can I be helpful to you right now?" 


3. "It's your fault I'm feeling this way."

Emotionally intelligent people understand that no one else is ever to blame for their own feelings. You are responsible for your feelings, which are based on your internalized perceptions of your life. To blame someone else for how you feel is a sign of immaturity. 



Dr. Warren suggests saying this instead: "I'm feeling very emotional right now. My perception of the situation is that …"

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4. "You're just wrong."

Those with low emotional intelligence will refuse to ever believe they're wrong. When navigating conflict with others, it’s important to see both sides of the coin. Nothing is ever black or white — there is always that gray area in between. Allow yourself to broaden your perspective to hear others out.

Dr. Warren suggests saying this instead: "I want to hear your perspective even when I don't see things the way you do. Can you help me understand why you're feeling this way?"

5. "Stop being crazy!"

If there’s anything you should never do, it's call someone crazy. No matter how irrational someone’s actions might appear, they, more often than not, stem from hurt and unheard emotions. 



Try understanding why someone may be displaying what you perceive as illogical behavior and let them feel heard. Diffuse the fire with empathy, rather than fueling it with animosity.


Dr. Warren suggests saying this instead: "I understand you're really struggling right now. Although I hear that you're upset with me, I think that your reaction may have more to do with your past than it does with what I'm doing right now. Do you think that's true?"

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6. "I can't forgive you."

Some actions are hard to forgive, but emotionally intelligent people can empathize with others in their flawed behaviors. To refuse to forgive is a sign of immaturity.



It’s emotionally draining to hold grudges and hold onto resentment. It will be much more beneficial to you in the long run when you respond with integrity and choose to be the bigger person.


Dr. Warren suggests saying this instead: "I'm having a hard time forgiving you right now. But I'm actively working to let go of this resentment and anger because I'd like us to be able to repair this and move forward."

7. "Your feelings are irrational." 

It’s unfair and unreasonable to believe others’ feelings are invalid. Some people feel things more deeply than others, and it’s important to let these people feel heard. No one’s feelings are ever irrational. Even when they seem so, these feelings are rooted in past traumas and painful experiences. 



In the same way your feelings are valid, so are everyone else’s. Be willing to listen and understand others when they express strong feelings. 


Dr. Warren suggests saying this instead: "I hear that you have strong emotions right now, and they are valid. I don't fully understand why you feel this way or agree with your perspective on this situation, but I want to. Can you tell me more?"

Reprogram your mind to replace these toxic, ill-disposed phrases with healthier ones.

Doing so can help you resolve conflict and change the narrative of your relationships with others. Take steps to be more mindful of the words and actions you evoke and your emotional intelligence will expand.

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Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, and spirituality topics.