Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

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Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Summary

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Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (2009), a self-help book by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, provides a toolkit and guide for readers to increase their emotional intelligence (EQ), which the writers say can be a benefit in business and personal relationships.

In the first chapter, Bradberry and Greaves use the story of a surfer to illustrate the importance of managing emotions. When he is attacked by a great white shark, the surfer must suppress his feelings of panic in order to come up with a solution and get to safety. They explain how the brain is wired to react emotionally; it is important to recognize that many people might not be rational actors in a crisis. These observations lay the foundation for the rest of the material included in the book.

Bradberry and Greaves provide a working definition for EQ and the skills associated with it. They stress that some people naturally have higher EQ, but that it is not an innate skill and can, in fact, be learned. Furthermore, it is possible to increase our EQ through a few simple exercises outlined in the book. This can be done through self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

First, Bradberry and Greaves discuss self-awareness. This means cultivating knowledge of what we are feeling at a given time and what triggers certain emotions. The authors then provide a list of exercises we can complete to improve our self-awareness. One example is making a list of specific emotional triggers, including people, places, and things that trigger a strong emotional response. Another is to observe how our own emotions affect others, whether strong emotions ripple outward or cause equally strong reactions in others. Once we are aware of this, we can take steps to control the effect we have on people.

Next, the authors delve into self-management, or the management of strong emotions. Once we have learned to identify our emotions and emotional triggers, we can then figure out strategies for making them work to our benefit. The book provides seventeen exercises and strategies we can try. One involves making a list comparing emotional and logical arguments in instances where emotion and reason are in conflict, a strategy that can help determine places where we are interfering with the other. Another strategy is to manage negative self-talk, or thoughts that are detrimental rather than constructive. Individuals who learn to self-manage well are better in stressful situations and tend to communicate during disagreements better.

The third section of the book is dedicated to improving social awareness. This refers to being attuned to the emotions of others and feeling empathy for their unique situations. Social awareness requires the individual to listen and observe others keenly, and the authors provide seventeen strategies for learning to do this. One example of a social awareness strategy is setting aside time every day just to people watch and observe others. Another strategy involves asking others reflective questions so that we can check our observations about them. Cultivating good social awareness helps us understand others’ points of view and help those closest to us with difficult emotions.

Finally, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 discusses strategies for improving relationship management. This refers to the way an individual navigates the emotional side of relationships with others, be they friends, coworkers, family, or romantic partners. As with the other sections of the book, seventeen strategies are provided for improving the management of relationships. One is the awareness of body language and the signals we send, as well as tips for making sure that body language is not in conflict with the words that are being spoken. Also, Bradberry and Greaves recommend recognizing and respecting others’ feelings even if they seem irrational or wrong. Good emotional management leads to stronger relationships and conflicts that are resolved quickly without lingering bad feelings on the part of either party.

The final chapters of the book discuss recent discoveries in the field of emotional intelligence. These include differences in emotional intelligence between workers from different cultures and countries, as well as between different generations, genders, and job titles. This information can help us identify which skills we need to work on and where we may have gaps in our emotional intelligence. The book ends with discussion questions that readers can use to start a productive dialogue about emotions with those closest to them.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 functions as a guide to help individuals target where they need to improve their EQ and how they can better their relationships with others. It is full of skill-building exercises readers can use to develop specific skills and improve their overall emotional attunement with others around them. Research has suggested that these skills can then be used to improve performance in all aspects of life.