Humans are creatures ruled by emotion. That's why emotional intelligence--the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions--is so important. 

Emotional intelligence helps us to better understand ourselves, and others. It can help us make better decisions, the kind that are in harmony with our true beliefs and values. Used the right way, it can make you a better employee, better partner, better parent, better friend.

But what does emotional intelligence look like in real life?

In EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, I break down some of the characteristics that accompany a high EQ. 

Take a look at the following, and see whether they describe your everyday habits:

1. You dissect your feelings. (And the feelings of others.)

You don't just feel, you think about what you're feeling and strive to understand why. (You do the same thing with your colleagues, friends, and family members.)

Doing so helps you to understand the role emotions play in your own and others' behavior.

2. You take your time.

You know that emotions and feelings are temporary, and that making impulsive decisions leads to regrets. That's why you take time to pause before speaking or acting, especially when you recognize you're in an emotionally charged moment.

3. You keep it real.

You realize being "authentic" doesn't mean sharing everything you think, with everyone, all of the time. 

But it does mean saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and sticking firmly to your values and principles.

4. You focus your thoughts.

You can't always control your feelings: outside stimuli can cause you to feel happy or sad, angry or content. But you realize that you can influence how those feelings develop--by focusing your thoughts. 

As the old saying goes:

You can't stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can keep it from building a nest.

5. You're open to feedback.

Nobody enjoys hearing criticism, including you.

But rather than fear negative feedback, you welcome it--because you know you can use it to grow.

6. You're tactful.

When it's time for you to give negative feedback, you keep the other person in mind. You realize that it's not enough to be right; you'll get the best results when you're kind.

7. You practice empathy.

Rather than rush to judgment, you strive to see things from the perspective of others. It's not about agreement, it's about understanding.

And by striving to understand others, you lay a foundation of trust--which leads to deeper, more meaningful relationships.

8. You stick to your word.

Nowadays, people will bail on just about anything--from a handshake deal to weekend plans. 

But you strive to keep your word in things big and small--and that helps build your reputation as both reliable and trustworthy.

9. You praise.

You look for the good in others. When you find it, you tell them what you appreciate, and why.

In doing so, you lift others up and bring out the best in them.

10. You show gratitude.

You recognize the difference between feeling thankful, and expressing it. That's why you strive to express appreciation to others, through words and actions.

11. You say sorry.

You're not afraid to apologize when you mess up, and that endears you to others.

Sometimes, you even apologize when you're right. Because you value your relationship more than your ego.

12. You forgive and forget.

When others apologize, you put it behind you and never bring it up again. 

And if they refuse, you move on anyway--and prevent others from holding your emotions hostage.

13. You strive to stay humble.

While many today view humility as a weakness, you see it as a strength. 

That doesn't mean lacking self-confidence or shrinking back from a challenge, rather, that you keep your pride in check. And by recognizing that you don't have all the answers, you're always willing to learn from others.

14. You're not easily fooled.

You know some people use their knowledge of emotions to deceive and manipulate.

So while you look for the best in others, you also keep your eyes open and stay on guard--to make sure others don't take advantage of you.

15. You learn from mistakes.

No one can perfectly manage their emotions. Show me an "expert" in emotional intelligence, and I'll show you someone who loses their temper or makes major mistakes under certain circumstances.

But you work hard to learn from those mistakes--to study your own behavior, identify your triggers, and build habits that will help you handle those situations better the next time.