Advice for People Who Lack Emotional Intelligence

Isaiah McCall
DeadpoolPhoto by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Intelligence (IQ) is as real as the beats of your heart. It’s measured in one of the most valid and reliable psychometrics ever created called an intelligent quotient test. Emotional intelligence (EQ), however, is hogwash.

The idea of emotional intelligence was popularized by journalist Daniel Goleman in 1995. From the onset, EQ received a flood of criticism from scientists for repackaging decades-old ideas into a singular ‘groundbreaking’ new concept.

A far more complex version of EQ was already created in the 1940s when psychologist Lewis Goldberg advocated heavily for five primary factors of personality, otherwise known as the Big Five personality model.

“There is no such thing as EQ. Let me repeat that: ‘There is NO SUCH THING AS EQ.’ The idea was popularized by a journalist, Daniel Goleman, not a psychologist.” — Jordan B. Peterson

The Big Five Personality model measures openness (a good indicator of creativity), consciousness (being more aware and therefore more compelled to work and be orderly), agreeableness (more trusting and helpful), extroversion, and neuroticism (predisposed to more stress).

It’s best remembered using the OCEAN acronym —


Or you could use CANOE. I don’t use this one because it reminds me of the cub scouts — and I’m still mortified from losing the Pinewood Derby (if you know you know). Either way, understanding these five traits reveals your proclivity for negative or positive emotions, as well as your likelihood for a far more happier or successful life.

So let’s dive into the deepest crevices of your mind and soul, shall we?

How Do I Get My Results?

Several websites offer their own versions of the Big Five personality trait test. The easiest one is on It’s free, takes five minutes tops, and unlike the SATs, you cannot fail.

This test presents you with 50 short statements such as “I change my mood a lot” or “I’m not interested in abstract ideas” and asks you to rate each on a scale of 1 to 5. Based on your answers, your results will show where you fall on the Big 5 spectrum.

Now that you have a good idea of how to measure your propensity for certain emotions, let’s peer into the crystal ball and see what it reveals for your future.

Openness = More Creativity + Recklessness

People high in openness are much more curious about the world. They don’t subscribe to one viewpoint but are interested in the full spectrum of ideas.

Often they’re projecting their fantasies onto the world or other people. Carl Jung called this projection the anima or animus. The anima is what a man projects onto a woman who he imagines to be perfect, and the animus vice versa. This is also known as “love at first sight” which Jung thought was dangerous and illogical.

Furthermore, if people high in openness aren’t creating they feel lost in the world. Therefore creativeness is a gift and a burden.

Relevant Study: One dose of psilocybin mushrooms drastically improved openness in individuals in less than one year.

Low in Openness

  • Not very imaginative
  • Dislikes change
  • Doesn’t read as much
  • Doesn’t enjoy David Lynch movies

Conscientiousness = More Discipline + Success

Conscientious people are orderly, industrial, and disciplined. They realize that every second wasted is another one regretted. Instead of letting the clock tick, they go to work constantly. These are the people who work 80–120 hours per week. Elon Musk, for instance, is likely to be very high in conscientiousness.

Someone high in conscientiousness calls God lazy for taking a day of rest as he creates the cosmos.

One of the few drawbacks to conscientiousness is alienating yourself; in addition to complete reliance on the current socioeconomic system. This is because conscientious people work hard for their society, which could, in turn, also screw them over. If you were a conscientious person in Venezuela, for example, hyperinflation would have destroyed everything you worked towards.


Relevant Study: The more conscientious you are the less likely you are to suffer from anxiety and emotional pain. There’s also a strong correlation between conscientiousness and happiness.
One More Relevant Study: The drugs Ritalin and Adderall both increase conscientiousness, but have severe side effects.

Low in Conscientiousness

  • Unreliable to others
  • Aren’t goal-driven
  • Seek short-term pleasures instead of longer ones (you aren’t prudent)
  • Are more like Bart Simpson and less Lisa Simpson

Extroversion = More Adventure + Sociability

Does being around groups of people make you energetic or exhaust you? This is one way to find out if you’re an extrovert or an introvert.

Extroverts make great salesmen. They’re the life of the party and have more friends than introverts. Extroverts live to tell jokes. Some people do however fall in the middle of the spectrum (often called ambiverts) and can take it or leave it when it comes to social interactions.

Both introversion and extroversion are very stable metrics; they develop early in childhood and remain consistent throughout life. Introverts often get a bad rep, but they are often better listeners and often think before they speak.

Extending past your predisposition for extroversion or introversion is a sign of emotional maturity.

Relevant Study: One study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed acting like an extrovert — even if you’re introverted — might significantly boost your well-being. It reminds me of George in “Seinfield” when he does the opposite of everything he used to do and it leads to happiness.

Low in Extroversion

  • Needing a break after social interactions (holding yourself up in your dorm or apartment)
  • Avoiding large groups or parties
  • More reflective about life
  • Believes Netflix bingeing as a social activity

Agreeableness = Saying ‘Yes’ More and ‘No’ Less

Agreeable people work better in groups. They’re more polite, fall more on the left side of the political spectrum, and are sometimes more interested in helping out other people than themselves.

However, agreeableness comes with a whole host of drawbacks. Agreeable people are more likely to be exploited. They are worse at negotiating contracts for themselves or disagreeing with authoritative figures.

Agreeable people are more uncertain of their future. They like to go with the flow. They rarely put their foot down, if ever. Read Dostoyevsky's The Idiot if you’d like to see this phenomenon played out to its tragic end.

This trait, however, is another one that requires balance. Being too disagreeable isolates you, and being too agreeable allows others to exploit you.

Relevant Study: In a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal titled “Do Nice Guys — and Gals — Really Finish Last? The Joint Effects of Sex and Agreeableness on Income,” found that agreeable people earn significantly lower incomes than disagreeable ones.

Low in Agreeableness

  • Stand up for themselves
  • Are more aggressive
  • Have less compassion for others

Neuroticism, What You Don’t Want

Neurotic people have trouble regulating their emotions. They experience wild swings of emotion, especially negative emotions like anxiety, depression, and insecurity.

This is the one trait that there’s really no benefit, yet all humans have a proclivity for. Arguably the sole benefit is that your anxiety predicts and prepares you for a negative reality. Anxiety during the war is warranted.

Once again, George from Seinfield is a highly neurotic person. George is a good measure for all psychometrics quite honestly.

One of the many ways to combat neuroticism is to avoid watching the news, eating bad junk foods, and trying to better regulate your routine. Furthermore, you should focus more on your actions and not words.

Relevant Study: Women are more likely to be neurotic, while men are more likely to be aggressive. Both result in the top 1% of mental disorders being experienced by females and the top 1% of criminals being males.

Low in Neuroticism

  • More optimistic and less likely to complain
  • Emotionally stable
  • Less likely to cry during Twilight

Final Thoughts

Angela Duckworth’s Grit, Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, even Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret are all window dressing on the Big 5 Personality Model. I appreciate Grit for making these concepts more digestible and trendy but the mea culpa is not expanding upon these well-documented psychometrics.

Heck, some psychologists argue there’s no such thing as grit, EQ, or even self-esteem.

Meanwhile, hopefully, by now you have a much better idea of your own personality traits and where you can work to improve them. We just scratched the surface of the Big 5 so if you want to learn more watch this lecture by Jordan Peterson.

I’m off to watch Inside Out and continue this emotional high.

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USA Today Reporter and Ultramarathoner. I write about Cryptocurrency, Fitness Hacks, and Greek Philosophy. Also a diehard Trekkie |

Jersey City, NJ

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