It should be no secret by now that people exhibiting high levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) are drastically more self-aware, work better with others, and are promoted at a much faster pace.

Studies over the past three decades prove this. It's also no secret that whole work cultures of emotionally intelligent people also produce dramatic results.

Having said that, we need to tap into some of the best features of emotional intelligence. What are they? Well, too many to mention in one article. But If I were to write a book on the topic (don't tempt me--it may happen after my current manuscript is done), here's what would make the chapter on the best characteristics of EQ.

1. They manage their emotions better than most.

Self-control (or "self-management") is a personal competence developed in every person. The question behind self-control is: Can I manage my emotions and behavior to a positive outcome?

Internationally known psychologist and best-selling author Daniel Goleman says this about people with self-control:

Reasonable people--the ones who maintain control over their emotions--are the people who can sustain safe, fair environments. In these settings, drama is very low and productivity is very high. Top performers flock to these organizations and are not apt to leave them.

Self-control, along with mindfulness, are skills we teach and coach leaders so they have the capacity to be present, calm, and focused during times of high stress. It's a necessary virtue with long-term payoff.

2. They know themselves at their core.

It's often easy to neglect our own feelings, self-care, what makes us tick, what pushes our buttons, and what triggers will set us off. Knowing yourself at the core is a good barometer for gaging your own happiness, and creating incredible growth.

3. They respond instead of react.

Speaking of triggers, so often we react when faced with an emotionally charged situation or a difficult co-worker or client, or even when we have a spout with our spouse or children.

It's quite human of us--we'll get defensive, act out in fear about something from deep inside us. In high-EQ people, once you get a handle on the root cause of your negative reactions, you can respond with confidence and self-control.

By modeling appropriate and effective communication, high EQ people set the example for others to follow as a cultural trait. When triggered to react, we learn from the models of high EQ that we first need to reflect on what's pushing our buttons (the root cause), and choose a "keep calm" approach as we process our emotions for a more tactful response. That's what a high EQ person does.

4. They put themselves in other people's shoes.

People are drawn to empathy, it's an attractive quality to have in building successful relationships at work. In fact, DDI research has proven that empathy is the No. 1 driver of overall organizational performance. Who knew?

And empathy is something you can develop, and it starts with thinking about other people's circumstances, understanding their pains and frustrations, and knowing that those emotions are every bit as real as your own. This helps you develop perspective, and opens you up to helping others, which also enhances your sense of gratitude.

5. They are the first to reach out after an argument.

The tendency for so many of us is to let resentment fester after an argument or misunderstanding, and then cut off the person from our lives until he or she reaches out to us with an apology. It's convenient.

But it's also just plain dumb.

A person with high EQ doesn't let her ego have its way at the expense of losing a friendship, a family relationship, or great work connection.

Since social skills is one of the four "best features" of emotional intelligence, a person running on all EQ cylinders will be the first to reach out to make amends, even if it means apologizing first. That humble and courageous act will do wonders; the other person will soften, apologize too, and allow you back into his or her life.