12 Signs of emotional maturity

​Emotional maturity refers to your ability to understand, and manage, your emotions. Emotional maturity enables you to create the life you desire. A life filled with happiness and fulfilment. You define success in your own terms, not society’s, and you strive to achieve it. Your emotional maturity is observed through your thoughts and behaviours. When you are faced with a difficult situation, your level of emotional maturity is one of the biggest factors in determining your ability to cope.

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The increased importance of emotional maturity

Back in the old days, work centred around the primary industries and work was very physical. In addition, due to a lack of transport options, all work was pretty much localised. You didn’t have big companies and management and worker were often the same person.

The physical work was more focused on the management of resources than the management of people. Emotional maturity was unheard of.

As time has passed, transport and communication developments mean that the world has become smaller. Markets are no longer local, and you may have suppliers, customers and staff who hail from and / or are based all over the globe.

Maintaining performance and productivity now depends on people management more than resource management. As you deal with so many people, with so many different personalities, you must have the emotional maturity to adapt your communication skills to each of the different personalities you encounter.

Outside of work, you used to have to get along with your neighbours because your options for friendship, companionship and support were limited to those in your area. But the last century has seen it become much easier to travel and meet new people and for new people to relocate to your location.

This means that emotional maturity has become more important in your personal life too.

12 Signs of emotional maturity

​Each person has a different level of emotional maturity. It is something which you can consistently work on and improve over time. You can use the following signs of emotional maturity to gauge your own level.

Note: Don't expect that you will be perfect in each one of these areas, every time. That's highly improbable, if not impossible. However, improving in each of these areas will help you to develop your emotional maturity and get it right more often than not.

1. Flexibility


You are able to see each situation as unique and you can adapt your style accordingly.

In 1997, I started a degree in Human Resource Management, I hadn’t known what I wanted to do with my career. I just knew that I wanted it to be centred on people. As Human Resource Management had the word ‘Human’ in the title, I thought I would give it a go. I had no idea what it was about.

I found the subject matter to be very interesting, but they were still teaching management in the old style i.e. you must develop your own management style and; you then use that to manage your employees. In the 20 years since, the working world has finally started to accept that you don’t force your employees to adapt to your management style.

It is you who must be able to adapt to the personalities and working styles of your employees. It doesn’t mean that you should give in to their whims and demands. But you must meet them where they are before you can influence them to go where you want them to go and, do what you want them to do.

The very same applies to your friendships. If you are treating two friends the very same and getting two different results, the problem isn’t them. You are failing to use your emotional maturity to adapt your communication style.

​Key point

When you have emotional maturity, you realise that a relationship is not one person imposing their will on the other. The relationships is the meeting point of 2 personalities. Therefore, each relationship will be different because the personalities within the relationships are different. You adapt accordingly.

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 2. Responsibility


When something goes wrong, you do not rush to blame others. There is a lot going on in the world around you at any given moment. It is easy to think that others are going out of their way to make life difficult for you. Their actions can seem to be causing you problems.

But blaming others is just taking the easy way out. Remember, you must be flexible and have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Things will go wrong from time to time but if they keep going wrong, it is because you are failing to adapt.

When you have emotional maturity, you take responsibility for your own life. You understand that your current circumstances are a result of the decisions you have taken up to now.  When things go wrong, not only do you not blame others, you don’t blame yourself.

It is important to remember that accepting responsibility is not the same as taking blame. Taking blame suggests that you deliberately did something wrong. Accepting responsibility means that you accept that something went wrong as a result of an action you took or, a decision you made.

This is very empowering because you realise that by making better decisions and, taking better actions, you can improve the outcomes you achieve.

You don't just sit wallowing in your own misery. You identify what you can do differently the next time and develop a plan to implement these changes. To do this, you examine the situation honestly and make a list of everything that went wrong.

From this list, you can identify the things which you can control and dump the rest. One by one, in order of importance, you can work your way through the necessary changes. Once you have done so, you will find that you have achieved a better outcome.

​Key point

That is what a great deal of emotional maturity is, - accepting that things go wrong; accepting that you are fallible, rolling with the punches and; learning from your mistakes. When you manage that, you have a much better life.

When you have emotional maturity, you take responsibility for your own life and, the outcomes you achieve. You know that if you were responsible for a bad outcome; you have the power to change your actions and; improve your outcomes.

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​3. You understand that vision trumps knowledge


You know that you do not need to have all the answers. As long as you can identify the problem, you can visualise a solution and research the best way to implement that solution.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest causes of procrastination and, one of the biggest obstacles facing the modern worker. Jobs are not as clearly defined as they once were. Even in companies with production lines, they no longer make the very same product for life.

Products must constantly be updated and innovated. Therefore, people are no longer working to a set plan or blueprint.

Most companies and most people wait until they can see exactly how to do something before they will make a start. But the most successful people and companies don’t wait for that. They have a vision of what they want to achieve, and they set about finding a way to achieve it.

They understand that they may fail many times, but they know that they only need to succeed once. Emotional maturity allows them to understand that you can't always travel in straight lines.

Consider the following points:

  • ​Thomas Edison famously spoke of how he discovered 1,000 ways not to invent the light bulb before he finally succeeded
  • ​Colonel Sanders, of KFC fame, tried to sell his chicken recipe over 1,000 times before he finally found someone to buy it
  • ​Michael Jordan failed to make his school basketball team first time round
  • The greatest sales people know that 96% of sales are made after the fourth time of asking

​If any of the famous people above, or any great sales person, knew how to succeed before they started, they wouldn’t need more than one attempt to succeed. What the points above tell us is the importance of staying true to your vision of what you want to achieve.

​Key point

Every successful person will suffer knockbacks but, they learn from them and go again. It is a strong vision and emotional maturity which allows them.

4. Personal growth


Meeting the challenges of tomorrow requires learning and development today.  You have a desire to learn and a thirst for knowledge. Learning and development activities form a key part of your schedule.

As already mentioned, a great deal of emotional maturity is about having the ability to constantly adapt to the demands of the world around you. When we think of emotional maturity, we usually think about our relationships with other people and; in most cases that is where emotional maturity is experienced.

But emotional maturity starts with your relationship with yourself. Remember that if you want something, or somebody, to change, you need to start by changing yourself. Maybe you need to change your views, your actions or the words you are using but when you change something about yourself, those around are influenced to change in response.

You may have a negative experience but when you look at it objectively, you can identify areas where you need to grow. Or, where you need to develop new knowledge, skills and attitudes to progress. Whether you have just lost your job or, you are struggling in a relationship, your ability to learn and grow will play a key part in your ability to overcome the challenges you face. Next time you face a difficult situation, ask yourself:

'What can I learn here and; how can I grow from this?'

​Key point

Lasting success and happiness comes from your ability to grow as a person. You were not meant to stagnate; like all living things, you weren't to grow.

 5. You seek alternative views


 Knowing that the way things are done can always be improved, you willingly seek out the opinions and views of others. You do not feel threatened when people disagree with you. If you feel that their way is better, you are happy to run with it.

I have spent a great deal of money on my training and education over the years. But some of the greatest lessons I have learned came through simple conversations with people I already knew. So, before I make major decisions and, before I spend big money,

I try to make a point of asking people whom I trust for their views. I regularly solve my problems without having to spend money or, a great deal of time, on unnecessary training. A little emotional maturity can save a lot of time and money.

It is amazing how many managers fail to ask employees for their input when facing problems or developing strategies. Unlike the manager, the employee spends most of their time doing the job. So, they are in a position to offer a different perspective.

They have insights that the manger can’t have. So, instead of always jumping to provide the solution, I would encourage mangers to first ask the employee:

‘What do you think we could do to solve this problem?’

It is great to get into the habit of asking employees for their input and it also helps create an environment where employees feel comfortable presenting their views and ideas to you.

Of course, many of your relationships are outside of the working environment but the same attitude is vital. Asking others for their views makes them feel valued and listened to. And, you will learn far more that you ever thought possible.

​Key point

Emotional maturity allows you to realise that you don’t have to do it all alone. A journey shared with the right people, will be a more succesful journey and a more enjoyable journey.

​Living With Purpose

One of the most important components of emotional maturity is to have a clear purpose and to live true to that purpose.

You can use the 'Living with Purpose Checklist' to determine whether you are living on purpose or not.

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6. Non-judgemental


​Variety makes the world a more beautiful place. Even when you disagree with people, you do not feel the need to criticise them. Instead, you respect their right to their beliefs.

I want to hold my hands up and say that when it comes to emotional maturity, this is usually where my downfall lies. I have a great love for solving problems and, for helping to solve problems. Hence why I chose coaching for a career. But there are a few things which I need to remind myself of regularly:

  • ​My opinion is just one way of looking at things
  • ​Everybody is entitled to their view
  • ​Nobody is obliged to listen to me; they are entitled to disagree
  • Even if I can prove I am right; people have the right to be wrong
  • I don’t always have to offer my view
  • Nobody can be accurately judged upon one action or opinion
  • I don’t know enough about anybody to accurately judge them

Judging others is pointless. This includes judging yourself. Sometimes I catch myself judging others and then I judge myself for having judged them.

The major problem with judging others is that you then interpret everything based on that judgement. For example, if you think somebody is a bad person; even when they do something good, you will find a negative interpretation for their actions. You enter each conversation with them with a closed mind which reduces your ability to adapt. This then limits your emotional maturity.

I have made good progress on this, but I still have a hell of long way to go. But I can assure you that as I have reduced my judgements and developed my emotional maturity, I have gotten better at relationships management. I have also increased my peace of mind and my ability to be productive, even when having a bad day.

​Key point

Your judgements don't just hurt the other person.  They hurt you too. By letting go of your judgements, you open up your mind to more of the wonderful possibilities that life has to offer.

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7. Resilience


There will always be things that go wrong. There will always be setbacks and major disappointments. While you may initially be a little upset, emotional maturity allows you to express your feelings, identify the actions you can take, and move on.

I have talked a great deal about being adaptable and flexible so that you can deal with any setbacks or problems which come your way. It would be easy to think that I am arguing that you should ignore your problems and your feelings.

But that is the case. Experiencing your feelings is a vital component of emotional maturity. Feelings and emotions have a purpose.

Emotional maturity encourages you to experience your feelings and emotions but not to let them dictate your response. When you allow your emotions and feelings to dictate your response, your tendency is to overreact.

Allowing your emotions to take over means that you don’t choose your response with any consideration, your emotions override your rational mind and limit the options you consider.

​Key point

Choosing the appropriate response requires a clear and calm mind. So, while you must experience your emotions, you must let them flow through your mind and let them go. Then you can return yourself to a state of equilibrium, consider the facts and engage your emotional maturity to make the most appropriate response.

8. A calm demeanour


It’s hard to be calm 100% of the time but you are able to remain calm the majority of the time.

For much of my life, I have had a bad temper. Not a violent temper, but I have the ability to get loud and demanding. Given my size, it can be very intimidating to others. I learned this behaviour when I was a teenager as aggression was the method used to discipline me.

Unfortunately, anger and aggression became a learned behaviour and my preferred communication method. Any time that I felt people were disrespecting me (I always assumed the worst), I would get angry and people would back down.

It seems great for a while because you are getting your way. But soon, you realise that your temper is destroying every relationship that you have. And, anger is a communication skill that is a lot easier to learn than unlearn.

Over the years, I have worked hard to try remaining calm. I have made great improvements though, as always; there is room for more improvement. What has struck me most is that when I am calm and rational, I can get people to do a lot more for me than when I am angry and aggressive and; I can solve problems quicker.

When you are calm and act with emotional maturity, you start each confrontation with the view that the other person(s) is not trying to disrespect you. You believe that if you have a polite discussion, you can resolve the situation amicably. And, 99% of the time, you are right.

​Key point

When you have emotional maturity and calmness, you don’t overreact to anybody or anything because you understand that most problems only become big problems when / if somebody overreacts. If you remain calm, you can deal with the problem before it escalates which is easier and less stressful for everybody involved.

 9. Realistic optimism


​You are not deluded. You know that success requires effort and patience. You do, though, have an optimistic disposition whereby you believe you can cope with whatever life throws at you. You also believe that there are opportunities out there for you, so you seek them out.

None of us can accurately predict the future. Anybody who tells you that they can is telling you a lie. But there is an old saying that is true:

‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’

To do that, you must believe in yourself and your ability to create the life you want. When you discover that you really want to be, do or have something; it can be exciting. But then you start thinking about how you are going to do it. Suddenly, it seems impossible and you start to lose faith in your ability to get it done.

Earlier in this article, I discussed the importance of having a clear vision of what you want and staying true to it. Then you start taking action, learn from your mistakes and then keep going until you achieve your goal. This is the path that all the greats have followed to success but for it to work, you must have enough self-belief and optimism to start taking action.

It is, however, important to be realistic when setting your goal. If you need a ladder to reach your goal, you are being realistic. If you need a spaceship, it might not be realistic; at least not for now. Start with a goal that needs a ladder and work up from there.

​Key point

Emotional maturity allows you to believe in yourself without getting carried away with yourself. You put yourself forward but you do so with your eyes open, full of awareness of the challenges and difficulties which lie ahead.

 10. Approachability


​You are usually easy to get along with and people feel comfortable approaching you. Building relationships is never contrived; it comes easy to you.

We are currently living in a time when people are obsessed with promoting themselves. They have every means to do it with social media and numerous other communication tools. It has resulted in an increase in the me, me, me society.

From a business perspective, it may be necessary to self-promote. I do it myself but, when you want to build deep and meaningful relationships, you need to focus on the other person as much, if not more, than you focus on yourself.

You must demonstrate that you are prepared to talk with people, not talk at them. Emotional maturity allows you to care about your relationships with others and your relationship with yourself.

Emotional maturity communicates itself through your care, concern and empathy for others. Your open-mindedness and willingness to listen to others without judgement is like a magnet which draws others in.

When people see this, they see that you are not only someone they can talk too but, somebody they want to talk to.

​Key point

Make no mistake about it, emotional maturity is like a badge you wear which people can see without you making any extra effort to show them.

Emotional maturity communicates itself through your care, concern and empathy for others. Your open-mindedness and willingness to listen to others without judgement is like a magnet which draws others in.

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 11. Self-belief


Relationships are wonderful, especially when they are based on equality. Two people offer support to each other and together, both lives are enriched more than they ever could be if the relationship didn’t’ exist. When we think of a relationship of equals we think about how both people must have as much respect for the other person as they have for themselves.

What you might overlook is that you must have as much respect for yourself as you have for the other person. And self-belief is really a manifestation of the respect you have for yourself and, your abilities.

Remember that emotional maturity places as much emphasis on your relationships with yourself as it places on your relationships with others. Because you cannot control others, you can only control how you interact with them.

The opposite is also true, others cannot control you, they can only control how they interact with you. That is why self-belief is so important.

As a coach, my job is to help people overcome the problems they face. If they lack self-belief, I can help them develop self-belief, but nothing is going to change until they believe in themselves.

Because my opinion about whether they can or can’t do something is largely irrelevant. What really matters is whether they believe in themselves.

When you have emotional maturity, you realise that it is nice when others believe in you, but it is not necessary. You find it unpleasant when someone doesn’t believe in you, but you know it doesn’t matter.

Instead, your emotional maturity allows you to understand that it may be difficult to do what you want to do and, it may take time but, if you really put your mind to it, you can do it.

​Key point

You appreciate when others praise or compliment you. It feels good when they approve. However, you know that there will always be people who disapprove but you are confident in who you are and what you do. If you believe that a particular course of action is right for you, you will do it, whether they approve or not.

​Living With Purpose

One of the most important components of emotional maturity is to have a clear purpose and to live true to that purpose.

You can use the 'Living with Purpose Checklist' to determine whether you are living on purpose or not.

Get Your FREE Copy Here

 12. Humour


There are certainly times in life when you need to be serious. When important things need to be done, you must knuckle down and get them done. But life can’t always be serious. By taking things too seriously, too often, you add unnecessary pressure to your life.

Eventually, you struggle to cope with the pressure and it turns into stress which is never a good thing.

It is important that you learn when you need to be serious, but it is just as important that you make time for laughter in your life. Humour is one of the greatest gifts you can experience in life. When you get caught up in the laughter, you forget your troubles and your mind and body start to let go of the pressure and stress you experience.

This is often enough to allow you to return to your work with a clear mind; take a fresh look at your problems and, find solutions and options you hadn’t previously considered.

If you have great friends, you probably sit around in a group having a laugh and chat; gently mocking each other and exchanging banter. Nobody gets offended and you all have a good time. In the modern world, these group gatherings often happen via apps or social media.

I bet you feel like a new person after one of these occasions occur because they are some of the best times in your life.

When you have emotional maturity, you don’t take yourself too seriously. You are able to enjoy a good laugh with friends and colleagues, even when you are the butt of the joke.

​Key point

With emotionally maturity, you don’t wait for humour to arrive as if it is freak accident. You seek out your friends, You make time for your favourite comedy shows and, you might even look up your favourite comedians on YouTube. Whatever it takes, you make sure you get some humour in your life each day because a day without laughter is a day not spent wisely.

​Values Based Living

You already know the answers to the challenges you face; you just need to learn to listen to yourself more clearly.

​Learn to make the right decision, every time, guided by your own inner wisdom with 'Values Based Living'.

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​Emotional maturity allows you to take charge of your life. You have your own vision for your life and your own ambition for success. Focusing on realising your vision, you can create a happy, healthy life where you respect yourself and others. When you develop emotional maturity, life becomes a joy rather than a chore. Your happiness and fulfilment are in your hands. Emotional maturity doesn’t evolve overnight. It takes effort, practice and patience. If you can improve a little every day, you will soon be living a happier, more fulfilled life.