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Emotional Intelligence 2.0 - Book summary

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important factor of success. In “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves explain what’s EQ, how you can determine your EQ levels and use a step-by-step program (with 66 proven strategies) to improve 4 core sets of EQ skills. In this Emotional Intelligence 2.0 summary, we’ll give an outline of the EQ definition, skills and strategies.

For more details, examples and tips, do get a our complete book summary bundle in text, infographic and audio formats.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 summary - book summary bundle

Studies have found that EQ accounts for about 58% of performance in most jobs, and people with high EQ earn more than people with low EQ. Yet, based on the authors’ tests, only 36% of people can identify their own emotions.

In a nutshell, your EQ is your ability to identify and understand emotions in yourself and others, and to use this awareness to manage your responses and relationships. We act on emotional impulses because the our neural signals in our brains pass through the emotional center (limbic system) before it reaches the logic center (pre-frontal cortex).  We can improve our EQ by mastering the link between the emotional vs logic centers in our brains. You can get more details about how this works in our full book summary.


Understanding and Improving Emotional Intelligence

In order to improve your EQ, you must know the skills involved and what they look like behaviorally. In the book, the authors present 4 key emotional intelligence skills.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 summary_4 EQ Skills

Personal competence is your ability to be aware of your emotions and manage your reactions.
Social competence is your ability to be aware of (and understand) others’ moods, behavior and motives, and to manage your relationships well.

Measuring and Improving EQ

Each book comes with a code for an Emotional Intelligence Appraisal® test, which you can use to find your score for each of the 4 EQ components, and identify your specific areas for improvement.
• Focus on only 1 EQ component at a time. The test results will include a recommend of the skill to start with, though you can also pick our own area of focus.
• Choose up to 3 strategies to begin with. Again, the test report will come with specific suggestions, but you are free to choose from the list of 66 strategies provided.
• Choose an EQ mentor (who is already strong in your chosen EQ skill), keep practicing and give yourself time to improve.
Measure/track your progress; when you feel you’ve made enough progress, retake the test and start the next cycle of improvement.

In our complete 15-page book summary, we elaborate on the 4 EQ dimension and 66 proven strategies that you can use to improve your EQ.  In this article, we’ll just zoom in on 2 emotional intelligence strategies for each of the 4 areas.


Improving Self Awareness

Self-awareness is simply knowing what makes you tick. It involves the ability to identify and understand your current emotions as well as your tendencies across situations. When you can make sense of your feelings, you’ll understand where you can excel, what motivates and fulfills you, and what type of people/situations may trigger certain feelings. Self-awareness lays the foundation for all the other EQ skills.

Here are 2 of the strategies to improve self-awareness. You can get the remaining 13 strategies from our full Emotional Intelligence 2.0 summary (click here for the full summary).

(i) Know what triggers you. Make a list of the exact people, situations, and environments that trigger certain emotions in you. When you know who/what triggers you and how exactly it irks you, you can learn to manage your responses.

(ii) Observe the ripple effects of your emotional outbursts. Often, they continue to affect others even after the emotion has passed. Take note of how your emotions affect people, ask them for feedback, and consciously choose the types of ripples to create.

Improving Self Management

Self-management is your ability to use your emotional awareness to deliberately choose what you say and do. It enables you to adjust and direct your responses to people and circumstances in a positive way. It allows you to rein your emotions in, decide whether to take action and the type of action to take. It also involves your ability to set aside your immediate needs to focus on longer-term goals. People who’re strong in self-management handle stressful situations and confrontations more effectively, communicate better, and are proactive yet patient.

Here are 2 sample strategies to improve self-management. You can get the other 15 strategies from the book / our full summary.

(i) Use an Emotion-vs-Logic list when your emotions and logic are in conflict. Write down the list of emotional vs logical arguments in 2 columns, side by side. Then ask 2 questions: (a) where could emotions be clouding your judgment? and (b) where could logic be blocking emotional cues? Writing these down helps you to see the situation more clearly.

(ii) Manage your self-talk. An average person has about 50,000 thoughts per day, and such thoughts trigger chemical reactions in the body that affect your emotions and behaviors. Catch yourself with negative thoughts (e.g. “I never”, “I’m an idiot”, “it’s all their fault”) and replace them with healthier thoughts (e.g. “just this once”, “we should all accept responsibility”).

Improving Social Awareness

Social awareness is your ability to accurately tune in to others’ emotions and understand what’s really going on with them. This requires the willingness and ability to understand others’ perspectives even if they differ from yours. To build social awareness, we must be fully present, listen and observe. This means we must silence our self-talk, give the other person our full attention and be willing to consider his/her point of view.

Here are 2 strategies to improve social-awareness. You can get the remaining 15 strategies from the full 15-page summary.

(i) Do a 15min walkabout every workday to observe people. Look at people’s workspaces, how they interact with one another, and try to pick up their moods and other social clues.

(ii) Check for accuracy. If you’re unsure about a cue, you can confirm your interpretation by asking a reflective question. State what you see (“You seem sad…”) and ask a direct question (“Did something happen?”).

Improving Relationship Management

Relationship management is your ability to apply the emotional awareness of yourself and others to manage your relations. This includes effective communication, conflict management and forging bonds. Such skills are the most useful during times of stress or conflict, when people either (a) give in to their anger/frustration, or (b) avoid the conflict and let it fester because they don’t know how to handle it.

Here are a couple of strategies to improve relationship-management. You can get another 15 strategies from the full book summary on emotional intelligence 2.0.

(i) Stop giving mixed signals. Be aware when your body language conveys a different message from your words. If you know you’re giving mixed signals, explain why e.g. you’re still upset over an earlier incident and not over the current conversation.

(ii) Respect and recognize others’ feelings, regardless of whether you agree with them. Don’t dismiss or try to change these feelings. Listen carefully and summarize what you’ve heard to show your understanding and concern.


Other Details in “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”

Each of the 66 strategies above are explained in short 1-3 page chapters in the book. The authors end off with a discussion of EQ trends, how EQ tests and skills development have positively affected people, and present recommended discussion questions for reading groups.

Do get a copy of the book for the full details, get our Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book summary bundle for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or check out more details about their EQ tests and related products at

If you wish to learn more about emotional intelligence, do also check out Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence summary or the Primal Leadership summary.

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Start improving your Emotional Intelligence today!

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