Emotional Immaturity: Signs It's There
Discussions about emotional intelligence, or emotional IQ, are bubbling up in conversations at work, in couples' counseling and in group dynamics. For example, within management circles, the idea that a leader of people ought to demonstrate a high emotional IQ is an important new standard for what we seek in those who manage other adults.
While - in general - we may understand the concept of emotional maturity, it is often more easy to recognize when it is NOT present. Here are some signs that emotional immaturity may be causing issues:
1. Taking no responsibility for what happens. If a person consistently plays "victim" about events and is unable to reflect on what he or she did to contribute to the result, it's a red light. Accountability is the sign of the opposite: mature people consider what they did - and might have otherwise done - for the result at hand. They also take responsibility for the actions.
2. Making conversations "all about me". An emotionally immature person steers conversations to ensure he or she is the center of the topic. Immature people also interpret discussions about issues through a "personal filter" that makes the issue about them. They have difficulty separating issues from their ego or personal reactions to the topic.
3. Talk more than listen. Authentic listening requires one to learn about the views and thoughts of others. As a result of it, people deepen their understanding, compassion and empathy. An immature person does not take the time to do this. As a result, they cannot deepen their emotional awareness.
4. Quick to anger or blow a fuse. Emotionally immature people react impatiently, throw a tantrum, swear, act out or get belligerent when things don't go the way they want or expect. They do not mange frustration with the realities of life well, nor manage easily unexpected transitions in processes or routines. Rather than draw on inner tolerance or belief in oneself to manage change, the emotionally immature have a melt-down. An emotionally mature person takes an inner look, reflects, considers the best outcome desired and decides what action will most likely bring that about.
5. Makes thinking errors. Many of the behaviors of the emotionally immature come from flaws in their logic. They often misinterpret social cues, jump to conclusions that are not well thought through or get stuck by beliefs about themselves or others that make it difficult for them to see their own error in thought. It's a form of mental stubbornness. An emotionally mature person opens up to others suggestions or reasoning and considers how it might alter how to consider a topic differently.
It's common to see these behaviors in children, to which we can say "time is on their side". It becomes less easy to be patient with these behaviors when an adult does them. It is easy to disparage such a person by saying "he's juvenile" or "she's high maintenance" behind his or her back. Consider this: it takes emotional maturity to sit down with such a person and candidly suggest, instead, personal counseling or coaching. It could change a life to show someone cares.