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  • Lokajit Tikayatray

7 Signs of Software Engineers With High Emotional Intelligence

We faced an outage on one of our databases a few years back. Everyone in the team was on their toes and losing their heads as the impact was huge.

But the architect remained calm. He focused on troubleshooting the issue. It took him less than an hour to find the root cause and provide a workaround. Once the incident was fixed, the entire team heaved a sigh of relief.

In the entire incident, I found it fascinating to watch how the architect controlled his emotions. He clearly demonstrated signs of high emotional intelligence. He did not let the pressure of the escalated incident hijack his attention.

Emotional intelligence is an extremely valuable trait in any individual. It enables people to stay in control, build collaborative workplace relationships, and achieve extraordinary career growth.

An excellent way of cultivating emotional intelligence is by observing how people with high EQ behave in situations you find hard to manage. Once you imbibe these characteristics, you can have a much better handle on your actions and, thus, on your career growth.

On that note, you can take the first step towards improving the EQ by learning about seven signs of emotionally intelligent developers.

1. They Listen Intently

“To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” — Deborah Tannen

I used to work with a developer who would frequently interrupt in between discussions and say, 'I got it. I got it.' Next, he would proceed to explain what he assumed the original speaker meant to convey. And, guess what, nine out of ten times, he would be wrong.

Often, developers assume what the others might intend to convey. They form an opinion based on half-listened details and start giving their suggestions or working on a solution.

It feels as if no one has the patience to listen anymore.

However, engineers with high EQ recognize that listening is the most effective way to understand the message. Not only does it convey respect, but it also helps in avoiding misinterpretation.

Hence, they listen to every point intently and wait for their turn to speak.

What can you do?

  • Practice patience and give 100% attention to receive and interpret the message accurately.

  • Even if you have a better idea or know the answer, wait for your turn to speak.

2. They Ask Questions To Gain Clarity on Feedback

A natural reaction to criticism is to become defensive. It makes our brain stop receiving feedback and start forming the response to defend ourselves. Instead of improving on our shortcomings, we become rigid in trying to protect our actions.

This behavior is a sign of low emotional intelligence.

Software engineers with high EQ understand that they cannot always be correct.

They also accept the fact that they are not the most intelligent person around. Hence, they are on a constant lookout to get constructive feedback on enhancing their skills.

Whenever developers with high EQ face criticism, they focus on the message rather than the person delivering it. The comments might be on their code, a design they proposed, or an idea they suggested. They ask relevant questions to gain clarity on the situation.

Such developers' ultimate goal is to use feedback as an essential tool to rectify their actions and grow as better software engineers.

What can you do?

  • Receive feedback with an open mind. Do not try to counter the points, even if you disagree with them.

  • Ask questions to clarify any doubts you have about the feedback. Analyze the details to use them for self-improvement.

3. They Proactively Accept Mistakes

“To make mistakes or be wrong is human. To admit those mistakes shows you have the ability to learn, and are growing wiser.” ― Donald L. Hicks

Everyone makes mistakes. But often, people don't feel comfortable disclosing that they goofed up. The usual reaction is denial. Hence, it is rare to see someone owning up to their errors.

However, emotionally intelligent developers understand that mistakes are part of the learning curve. To grow in their career, they constantly work on things that they have not done before. And it is natural to make mistakes under such circumstances.

Developers with high EQ possess the ability to accept their mistakes and take responsibility for the damage caused. They do not wait for someone to find it out.

Neither do they admit to it due to external pressure. They do it because they understand it is the right thing to do.

If their code produces a defect in production, they own up to it and give their best to resolve it as soon as possible. If a solution causes a performance bottleneck, such developers learn from it. They work on optimizing the solution based on newly acquired understanding.

Instead of running away from their mistakes or responsibilities, developers with high emotional intelligence use them as stepping stones for their self-improvement.

What can you do?

  • Understand that mistakes are part of day-to-day life. The only people who never make mistakes at the workplace are the ones who don't work.

  • Be transparent with your team or the manager. If you make any mistakes, explain the situation that caused the error. Ask for help to solve any problem caused by it.

4. They Know How To Manage Their Emotions

A fascinating thing I find among all the developers is those who know how to manage their emotions. Irrespective of the level of difficulty, they stay calm and composed. They don't let adverse conditions hijack their emotions.

Many day-to-day scenarios at work spark the trigger and make programmers lose control over their emotions. Before they know it, sentiment drives their action, which leads to poor judgment. They make decisions on the spur of the moment that they regret later.

However, developers with high EQ recognize the pitfalls of emotional decisions. They accept all sorts of emotions as natural reactions. They do not try to suppress them because bottled-up emotions can burst unpredictably in the most unexpected situations.

Instead of hiding their emotions, they openly admit to their feelings without holding anyone responsible for them. They do not direct their emotion towards any individual in a personal way. Sharing what they feel helps them to remain in control.

What can you do?

  • Identify who, what, and how your buttons get pushed. Knowing your pressure points can help you have better control over your emotions.

  • Share your feelings with others without judgment. This will help you to remain in charge of your actions while you are still high on emotion.

5. They Are Happy To Share the Limelight

Emotionally intelligent software engineers are great team players. They understand they can have better career growth when the entire team works together. Hence, they value collective goals over individual agendas.

Competition among teammates is good, but it should aid the team's growth instead of dragging everyone down.

People with low EQ don't know how to have healthy competition. They try to hog the center stage and steal all of the credit. Even if they are high performers, the hostile work environment they create impacts the team's morale.

However, developers with high emotional intelligence prefer sharing the limelight. They never hesitate to help others or give credit where it is due. They praise people for their accomplishments in the best possible way for the recipient.

What can you do?

  • Recognize that your growth is linked to the team's success. Encourage and support everyone to meet their goals.

  • Be vocal in highlighting others' achievements.

6. They Demonstrate Empathy

Software engineers with high EQ know how to read emotions and are capable of relating to them. They don't fake compassion to make people like them.

Emotionally intelligent developers understand a team consists of people with varying skill levels. They recognize the challenges each one faces in their personal and professional life. Hence, they know not everyone in the team can be equally productive.

These developers do not crib about colleagues' shortcomings behind their backs. They try to see the situation from the other's perspective. They are aware of the fact that the first reactions are often over-emotional and often unreasonable.

Hence, they communicate any disagreement in the most professional manner. Their intention is always to understand the events rather than criticize the individuals.

What can you do?

  • Develop curiosity about others' situations. Engage with people and share your own emotions. It will help them to open up to you without reservations.

  • Take help from mentors and managers to understand your behavior. Ask them if they can guide you to be more empathetic.

7. They Are Assertive but Not Aggressive

Usually, people try to avoid situations that generate friction. However, disagreements are inevitable in a team environment. Every team member will have their own perspectives based on their personal and professional experience.

In such cases, avoiding conflict does not solve the root cause of the problem.

Hence, developers with high EQ prefer to resolve the matter rather than sweep it under the carpet. They always strive to handle conflict in productive and thoughtful ways.

Such developers understand unresolved conflicts do not vanish on their own. It just grows to a proportion until you cannot avoid it anymore. But, at that point, it might have reached a scale to cause more harm than if it had been dealt with when it started.

In the entire process, emotionally intelligent developers do not let their emotions take control of their behavior. They remain calm and composed. They understand that any aggressiveness during the discussion will make the counterpart even more rigid in their belief.

What can you do?

  • It is hard to shake off the emotional reaction during a conflict situation. If that happens to you, then try not to react immediately. Focus your attention on listening to what the other side has to present. It will give you time to calm down your initial emotional impulses.

  • If you are confident in your points, put them across with conviction. Try not to point fingers at the faults of your team members.

Conclusion: Signs of High Emotional Intelligence

Signs of high emotional intelligence

These are some of the signs displayed by software developers with high emotional intelligence. Learn from people who exhibit these traits, and you can eventually reach a level that will serve you great throughout your career.

Even people with low EQ can help you learn a lot. Please pay attention to their behavior and identify the traits you do not want to cultivate yourself.

It might be challenging at first, but with perseverance, you can acquire high EQ.

As your emotional intelligence grows, it will help you better handle challenges at the workplace and build meaningful collaborative relationships. Ultimately, these traits can help you achieve your goals and build a successful software career.


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