Individuals, organizations, teams, and people in relationships have long turned to guides and how-tos on improving emotional intelligence as a means of feeling more fulfilled, becoming better leaders, improving relationships, and more. Below, you’ll find 19 of the best books on emotional intelligence that can provide you with actionable steps and strategies for boosting your own EQ.
General Guides to Emotional Intelligence
The following list of books includes general guides on emotional intelligence. You’ll learn about the basic principles of EQ, how improving it can help you in your day-to-day life, how to understand your emotions and triggers, and how to implement specific action plans.
1. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
Daniel Goleman draws on substantial research into neuroscience and behavioral psychology to give his readers insight into what he calls the “two minds”—the rational and emotional parts of our brain—and how they work together to determine our reality. He delves into why a high IQ sometimes isn’t the only or most relevant factor that goes into success and that, in fact, emotional intelligence (EQ) has a much larger hand in the matter. Although EQ is shaped in childhood, Goleman believes it can be nurtured into adulthood, providing immediate physical and emotional benefits.
2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is probably one of the most well-known books on emotional intelligence. It states that understanding EQ and knowing how to implement it wisely in your own life are two very different things. As such, authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves offer up a step-by-step guide to accessing your EQ and increasing it. Newsweek calls it a “fast read with compelling anecdotes and good context.” By the end of the book, you’ll have a better grasp of EQ in relation to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
3. Emotional Intelligence: A 21-Day Step by Step Guide to Mastering Social Skills, Improve Your Relationships, and Boost Your EQ
Author David Clark believes that emotional intelligence is one of the most coveted aspects of personal and professional success. He references studies that show how it’s a much better indicator of success and fulfillment than intelligence or IQ. In this 21-day guide, Clark also covers topics including emotional management, conflict resolution, mastering complex social situations, self-awareness, and more. Master your emotions with Emotional Intelligence!
4. Go Suck a Lemon: Strategies for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence
Go Suck a Lemon gives its readers methods of improving their emotional intelligence based on cognitive skill-building techniques. It aims to make the human experience less self-defeating and more enriching. Author Michael Cornwall, PhD, is an author, lecturer, clinical supervisor, educator, and therapist specializing in emotional intelligence. He takes logical ideas and makes them feel like common sense, entertaining and educating his readers at the same time.
5. Emotional Advantage: Embracing All Your Feelings to Create a Life You Love
Emotional Advantage asks the question, “What do we do when life doesn’t go according to plan?” In response, it uses neuroscience to provide a guide and a source of emotional support for readers. It gives perspective on how fear can be a motivator, guilt can be clarifying, and anger can lead us to make better boundaries. Award-winning author Randy Taran explains how every emotion, even the most difficult ones, can help bring us to a place of authenticity and peace.
Emotional Intelligence in Business & Leadership
Emotional intelligence is a sought-after commodity in the business world, especially for someone in a position of power. If you take a deep dive into the titles below, you’ll be able to lead more efficiently, empathetically, and effectively.
6. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence
For managers, CEOs, coaches, and all variety of leaders, Primal Leadership affirms the influence of emotional intelligence in the professional world. A trio of best-selling authors—Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee—illustrates the power and necessity of leadership that exemplifies self-awareness, empathy, motivation, and collaboration. Readers call it a “timely resource for those aspiring to lead.” USA Today calls it an “invigorating” read.
7. Working With Emotional Intelligence
As a follow-up to his first book on emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence focuses on the benefits of having a high EQ in business. He covers five sets of skills and how they determine who thrives in some of the top corporations worldwide. Additionally, Goleman offers guidelines to training individuals and teams in an emotionally intelligent organization. Readers call it “the most important business book you’ll ever read.”
8. Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success: Connect With Customers and Get Results
If you’re in sales, this book was designed with you in mind. Author and sales trainer Colleen Stanley cites case studies and offers tips on how to expand your emotional toolkit and overcome difficult selling encounters. Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success is all about building impulse control, becoming a better listener, and asking the right questions. Stanley believes that doing so can make you more likeable, trustworthy, effective, and empathetic. She describes specific skills that have helped some of the best sales producers in history to drive results and close the deal.
9. HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence
This book from the Harvard Business Review uses research by prolific author Daniel Goleman to explore the ways that emotional intelligence is a better determinant of solid leadership than any other trait. It provides the reader with advice to succeed at work, become a better leader, address business challenges, deal with difficult people, and bounce back from tough times. Fortunately, this guide operates based on the belief that emotional intelligence is not innate. Rather, it is something to be nurtured until it thrives.
10. Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman, ranked one of the top ten business intellectuals by Accenture Institute for Strategic Change, is back at it with Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence. This time, he’s delving into emotional intelligence in relation to leadership. Of his book, he says, “I’ve pulled together more than two decades’ worth of my writings that best illustrate EI’s positive impact on personal and organizational excellence.” Readers will discover how to manage “with the heart,” get results, access the social brain, and hit the sweet spot for achievement.
11. Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness
Another trio of authors—Annie McKee, Richard Boyatzis, and Frances Johnston—shares real-life stories and experiences that illustrate how people can develop and strengthen emotional intelligence over time. Reflecting on personal research and practical wisdom, Becoming a Resonant Leader helps its readers articulate strengths and values, and create a plan to intentional change. It’s an ideal guide for teachers, coaches, consultants, and managers.
12. The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership
Authors David R. Caruso and Peter Salovey don’t believe in the long-taught notion that expressing emotions at work is bad. On the contrary, they argue that emotions are integral to how we think, reason, and make decisions. In The Emotionally Intelligent Manager, readers learn about the four-part hierarchy of emotional skills: identification, facilitation, understanding, and management. It goes on to show ways of measuring emotional intelligence, learning new skills, and employing them to work-related issues.
13. The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work
The EQ Difference aims to help you help your organization to be more productive, boost morale, and retain good employees. In this guide by Adele B Lynn, co-written by the Society for Human Resource Management, you’ll have access to self-assessment tools, team-focused exercises, practical tips and suggestions, and workplace examples. Readers call it a “delicious mixture of pragmatism and passion,” and say it should be mandatory reading for every company.
14. Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life
The Harvard Business Review calls Emotional Agility “counterintuitive” and “groundbreaking.” Author and renowned psychologist Susan David, PhD, says the path to professional fulfillment is winding and filled with detours, but one of the only things we need to navigate is emotional agility. According to David, this revolutionary approach teaches people self-acceptance, open mindedness, and open heartedness. Through her research and years of consulting, she found that the way people respond to internal experiences determines their outer experiences and success.
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Emotional Intelligence in Relationships
The following three books on emotional intelligence were crafted with relationships in mind. They’re perfect guides for anyone who needs to retrain their brain for better communication, more emotional acceptance, and a deeper personal connection.
15. Emotional Intelligence for Couples: Simple Ways to Increase the Communication in Your Relationship
Healthy relationships rely on mutual emotional intelligence and communication. In Emotional Intelligence for Couples, relationship expert John Lee explains the basic principles of EQ, equipping his readers with strategies to express emotions, communicate clearly, and reach a state of deeper connection. He covers how to have a healthy argument, prevent criticism and manipulation, set personal boundaries, and change behavior to improve the relationship.
16. At the Heart of Leadership: How to Get Results With Emotional Intelligence
If you’re looking to take your leadership skills to the next level, this book will show you how. Instead of just talking about emotional intelligence, At the Heart of Leadership provides a roadmap to using it. Author Joshua Freedman writes from experience, referencing his work with the US Marine Corps, Schlumberger, and FedEx. He shares the Six Second EQ Model, which functions as a three-step process to effectively handling difficult emotions.
17. The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships
Author Jeanne Segal, PhD, teaches that you can increase your emotional intelligence in the context of your relationships with five tools. Readers call it “practical” and “ready-to-use,” citing it as playing a crucial role in the health of their relationship. Dr. Segal’s step-by-step program covers how to “read” people, make deeper connections, defuse arguments, heal emotional wounds, and understand body language. You’ll enjoy actionable exercises, self-quizzes, relaxation or calming techniques, and an overall hands-on approach. Segal says that once you master the language of emotional intelligence, you’ll be better equipped to communicate authentically with others.
18. How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
This book by David Richo is beloved by many. Its core message is about how to be more mindful and intentional in our relationships, understanding that love isn’t so much a feeling as it is a way of being present. How to Be an Adult in Relationships includes useful information on communication styles, online dating, and how to end a relationship if the need arises. Richo also shares what he calls the “five A’s,” which are:
Other topics include how to create boundaries, overcome fear of abandonment, and express anger in healthy and loving ways.
19. Radical Intimacy: Cultivate the Deeply Connected Relationships You Desire and Deserve
Radical Intimacy is a narrative guide and methodology for how to sustain our relationships with others, ourselves, and the world at large. Author Zoë Kors says, “With intimacy as a foundational principle of our existence, we can build a life based on what we truly need, not what we think we need or have been told we need.” She offers up her wisdom as a sex and intimacy coach, lessons learned from personal experience, and client stories, addressing the essential truth that we can only understand and love others as much as we love and understand ourselves.
How Therapy Can Help You Develop Emotional Intelligence
While these books provide helpful resources for building emotional intelligence, it may also be helpful to reach out to a mental health professional if you feel that you could improve in this area. A therapist can assist you in finding the tools you need to succeed in leadership, building healthy relationships, or discovering more about your own emotions.