Aug 22

The Relationship of Emotional Intelligence and Social Anxiety

If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking about possible solutions to overcoming anxiety in social situations, you may have considered the relationship of emotional intelligence and social anxiety.

Meeting new people, job interviews, networking, and a laundry list of other situations trigger social anxiety but are commonly described as skills dominated by those with high emotional intelligence. Does that mean emotional intelligence could help people overcome social anxiety? Let’s look further into the relationship of emotional intelligence and social anxiety, and see how they fit together.

Emotional intelligence and granularity

The general understanding of emotional intelligence has been the skill of reading others emotions. A fuller definition from The Institute for Human Health and Potential describes it like this: the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, and recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

Dive deeper into understanding emotions as a whole rather than thinking thoughts can wrestle emotions into submission.

Recently, a neuroscientist said that it’s time to rewrite this definition. The author suggests we dive deeper into understanding emotions as a whole rather than thinking thoughts can wrestle emotions into submission. A wider range of emotional understanding, which the author calls emotional granularity, gives us a greater context for interpreting our emotions and those of others.

Youper believes you can cultivate emotional intelligence through looking deeper into the nuances of your thoughts and emotions. In other words, by developing more emotional granularity. Through this practice, you become a skilled observer and develop a deep understanding of emotions. This gives you the advantage in trigger situations because you are able to understand, manage, and influence a greater variety of emotions. In short, reviewing your thoughts enhances your emotional granularity. As a result, this can improve emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence and social anxiety

Researchers have said that people with social anxiety have a great ability to pick up on behavioral cues. This is because they’ve developed a strong sense of empathy through their constant reflection and consideration of others’ feelings. Does this heightened awareness position people with social anxiety to have higher emotional intelligence?

On the one hand, social anxiety causes people to evaluate details and social cues to make educated guesses about what is happening in the world around them. On the other, it makes people hesitate, second guess themselves, and sometimes withdrawal.

While writers have said great things about how social anxiety and intelligence are positively related, research suggests people with social anxiety demonstrate lower levels of interpersonal emotional intelligence. So while social anxiety may have a positive effect on intelligence, it isn’t the case for emotional intelligence.

How to overcome this setback

The good news is that learning more about emotions enhances your capacity for emotional intelligence. As noted above, the greater your understanding of emotions, the greater your capacity for emotional intelligence. Diving deeper into your thoughts to better understand your emotions is the perfect place to start.

Youper’s anxiety assistant helps you examine your thoughts and dive deeper into your feelings through guided activities. This helps you create more emotional granularity, which enhances your emotional intelligence.


Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions and influence those of others. Without emotional granularity, however, the skill remains superficial and underdeveloped. While social anxiety may have a connection to intelligence, research shows the relationship between emotional intelligence and social anxiety is inverse. Examining your thoughts helps you improve emotional granularity, which enhances emotional intelligence. If you’d like to increase your emotional intelligence, start by reviewing your thoughts.

Once you start examining your thoughts and increasing your emotional intelligence, meeting new people, job interviews, networking, and other situations that trigger anxiety become more comfortable. Controlling anxiety in these situations is going to ensure you get the outcomes you want.

Learn more about how Youper helps you evaluate your emotions here.


Felipe de Araujo

Felipe is a software developer moved to create solutions that impact people’s lives. He believes the biggest changes come from the inside out. In his free-time, you can find him facing his fears on the dance floor learning swing dance steps.

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