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Summary: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

  • The book is a self-help guide for people who want to improve their emotional intelligence (EQ), which is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others.
  • The book provides a framework for assessing one’s current level of EQ, as well as a set of strategies and exercises for developing four core skills of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.
  • The book argues that EQ is a crucial skill for success in both personal and professional life, and that it can be learned and enhanced through practice and persistence.

Our emotions — and our ability to control them — have a powerful impact on every aspect of our lives. “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” breaks out the four core skills that make up your emotional intelligence and the related actionable strategies to improve it. In this book review, you’ll learn how to communicate effectively, navigate conflicts and uncomfortable situations, and become a better listener.

Learn how to improve your life by employing these proven strategies.


  • Want to get to know yourself better
  • Need to take your career to the next level
  • Freeze up in difficult situations or conflicts


You may have heard the saying that everyone you meet is fighting some type of battle. It’s true: Every human has an internal battle between rational and emotional thoughts and reactions.

You experience a large range of emotions, so it’s no surprise that emotional reactions can have huge impacts on your life.

Even people considered easygoing have certain triggers that cause them to erupt if provoked. Others have difficulty navigating their feelings on a daily basis. You may have noticed that the people who seem to keep their emotions in check seem to be the luckiest: they either just got promoted at work or are able to cultivate and nurture their relationships. But they’re not just “lucky”; they’re smart. They know that emotional intelligence (EQ) mastery is the key to getting further in life. You may not always be able to control what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it. The key is having the resources to educate yourself.

There are four core skills of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness: How well you know yourself, including likes, dislikes, and triggers.
  • Self-management: How you manage your reactions.
  • Social awareness: How you understand and pick up on the social cues around you.
  • Relationship management: A combination of the above three skills.

Book Summary: Emotional Intelligence 2.0

The Journey

Have you ever watched a thriller and wondered how the main character remains quick-thinking despite being terrified? No matter what gets thrown that person’s way, they manage to stay calm in an otherwise nerve-wracking situation. Eventually, their even-keeled demeanor allows them to overcome the many obstacles they face to become the hero (and stay alive — bonus points).

But what about the guy who wasn’t as lucky and died in the first scene? Besides going into a creepy, dark basement when a serial killer is in the house, his mistake was being unable to think logically among the chaos. That ultimately led to his downfall.

Effective EQ requires equal communication between both brain centers. Our brains have rational and emotional centers that communicate with each other, but the first one to hit our limbic system is all emotion. We all experience that initial surge of emotion, and managing it requires practice.

This summary will cover time-tested strategies to take your EQ to new heights. You’ll be equipped to know how to think and respond in difficult situations.

The Big Picture

At its core, emotional intelligence is being aware of, controlling, and expressing your emotions while handling relationships with empathy and ease.

Of those who practice EQ, there is still a huge gap between those who are able to identify their feelings and those who are ruled by emotions. After all, managing your emotions is not an easy task. While you learned history and geometry in school, it’s unlikely you had a class on emotional intelligence. To make smart choices in life, you need to be equipped with both knowledge and emotional tools.

Humans experience a wide range of emotions that are derived from five main feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and shame. When you think about the full range of emotions, it’s no wonder that most of us are all just works-in-progress when it comes to EQ. Every person and situation will elicit an emotional response, some more than others. You may be familiar with the term “triggered”, which is a way of saying something elicits a strong feeling, whether it’s fear, anger, or sadness.

Essentially, EQ affects everything you say and do. Nine times out of ten, highperforming employees are found to have high EQ levels.

What Emotional Intelligence Looks Like — Understanding the Four Skills

The four core EQ skills are split under two primary competencies:

Personal competence: This competence focuses solely on you as an individual.

  • Self-awareness is knowing yourself and your tendencies.
  • Self-management is managing how you do — and don’t — react to people and situations.

Social competence: This competence focuses on how you interact with other people.

  • Social awareness is your ability to read the room and know your audience. You pick up on unspoken feelings and energy and react as such.
  • Relationship management is a combination of the three other skills used to manage your relationships successfully.

Self-awareness means you have a deep understanding of what makes you tick. You know what you like and what you don’t. You know your strengths and weaknesses and what people or situations you should avoid. The amazing part about selfawareness is that you can improve this skill just by ruminating on situations and actions. Just like with any habit, self-awareness becomes easier over the long-term.

Self-management is what happens when you act — or do not act — based on situations that may cause you stress. Keep yourself flexible and your behavior and emotions positive. This goes beyond keeping your cool and not throwing a tantrum. You should actively work to manage your tendencies or usual responses to situations to ensure a positive outcome.

For example, let’s say you have worked for Jacob for many years. Even though he is very busy and has a high-pressure job, he is always kind and takes the time to check in with his employees. Despite many obstacles and frustrations, you never see him lose his cool, even at times when you know it must be difficult to keep it together. He also has a great way of communicating and offers guidance and clarity. Similarly, when he makes a mistake, he owns it and offers solutions on how to move forward. Jacob always makes it a point to communicate and keep others in the loop. All of this adds up to a professional relationship built on trust.

It sounds like Jacob has mastered both self-awareness and self-management. Despite having a lot of stress and pressure, he is aware of how his reactions could affect his team and works hard to keep the atmosphere positive and motivating. He successfully keeps his emotions separate from logic when focusing on the tasks at hand. Additionally, he is not afraid to admit his weaknesses and build his employees up in the meantime.

Social awareness is your ability to accurately gauge emotions in other people and understand what is going on with them — whether you feel the same or not. This skill requires a lot of listening and observing. When you have a conversation with someone, be sure to really listen to what they have to say. Don’t just wait for an opening to say what’s on your mind. Be thoughtful and deliberate in your interactions.

Relationship management utilizes the previous three EQ skills: self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness. Relationship management is your ability to use your EQ to manage interactions successfully. Relationships are necessary elements for happiness and should be nurtured and worked on continually. The successful relationships you maintain are a clear indicator of how you treat others and a gauge of your overall EQ.

This type of management is especially helpful when dealing with conflicts. The workplace is typically where people utilize and practice their relationship management skills most. You can choose who to interact with in your personal life, but at work, you are among a group of different personalities that you’re required to get along with.

Relationship management can also help when you’re trying to express your point of view and be heard. Let’s say you are proposing a budget for a new project that no one really believes in. Do you think that your management team is going to take the time to hear you out if you haven’t put in the effort to build rapport? More than likely, you will end up with a denied proposal. However, put in the work to build a relationship with your colleagues, and you’ll see that your results may differ the next time you need to propose a project. At the very least, they’ll be sure they take the time to hear you out.

Here’s another example. You and Carly work in different departments. You try to avoid her because she tends to be snarky and sarcastic, especially if she thinks you’re asking her a stupid question. There is a high turnover for the people who work under her, and you’ve heard that she gets jealous if any of her subordinates get praise from upper management. It’s as though she is competing with everyone. She doesn’t have many close relationships at work. She tells inappropriate jokes and generally makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

Yikes. It seems like Carly doesn’t have a clue when it comes to social awareness or relationship management. Instead of building up her team, she’s puts herself in competition with them. She doesn’t know how to read the room, and it nobody wants to get close to her.

Digging in — an Action Plan to Increase Your Eq

Now that you understand the basics of EQ, it’s time to practice them like would with any new habit. Your brain changes the longer you practice, and this makes it easier to access your EQ tools in the future.

EQ plan steps

  1. Choose one EQ skill to focus on at a time.
  2. Identify three strategies you can use to improve your skill.
  3. Choose a mentor, someone you know and trust who shows competence in the skill you’d like to master (like Jacob, rather than Carly).
  4. Bear in mind: Aim for success, not perfection. Practice. Then, practice again. Be patient!

Self-Awareness Strategies

Considering you live with yourself 24-7, it’s funny to think that you have to work to get to know yourself. But it truly is a process. Your emotions are complicated and run the spectrum from positive to negative. They appear whether you are aware of them or not. In fact, if you repeatedly experience certain bursts of feelings related to a situation or person, it’s your way of teaching yourself to pay better attention.

Try these strategies in your self-awareness practice:

  1. Don’t label your emotions. Suspend judgment and just let your emotions be while you work to understand them.
  2. Be comfortable with discomfort and feel all the feels. You may avoid things when you’re uncomfortable but work to move through the discomfort.
  3. Let yourself feel your emotions and record the changes — both physical and otherwise — for negative and positive feelings.
  4. Identify and explore your triggers and where they stem from.
  5. Try to see yourself from the outside looking in.
  6. Journal about your EQ practice and experiences.
  7. Think about why you react the way you do.
  8. Remember your morals and values, which are easy to lose in the day-to-day busyness of life.
  9. Consider your mood and environment before reacting.
  10. Look closely at the things you identify with.
  11. Ask others to give you feedback and seek honesty, even when it may be difficult to hear.
  12. When you’re stressed, work to understand your emotions and reactions better. This will give you insight on your path to EQ mastery.

Self-Management Strategies

Self-management allows you to choose what you say and do through awareness of your emotions. Having a healthy level of self-awareness is necessary for successful self-management because you can choose your response only when you’re aware of it. Once you check in with yourself and identify your emotions, you can plan your next move and positively handle any situation.

Here are some self-management strategies to get you started:

  1. Breathe deep. Anytime you breathe deeply, you’ll notice the effects immediately and feel more relaxed.
  2. Create an “Emotion vs. Reason” list. Like a pros and cons list, you will use this to define where your emotions are clouding your judgment, and where you’re ignoring important clues from your emotions.
  3. Share your goals with friends and family for motivation.
  4. Count to 10. This may seem like simple advice, but it’s effective for cooling down when your emotions are in overdrive.
  5. Sleep and time often bring clarity. Try to sleep on any big decision before you act.
  6. Meet with someone you would consider a mentor in self-management. Try to emulate the best!
  7. Smile and laugh. Your brain receives the message you’re happy, which will trick your mind into thinking you are.
  8. Give yourself time to reflect. Take 5-10 minutes each day to think about how you practiced self-management, what you did well, and what you could improve.
  9. Be kind to yourself — there is no room for negative self-talk.
  10. Picture yourself succeeding. Visualization is a great way to practice your skills.
  11. Give your brain time to recharge. You can do this by getting enough sunlight, limiting screen time before bed, avoiding using your bed for work or TV time, and limiting caffeine before bed.
  12. Use each experience (even the negative ones) to learn a lesson.
  13. Schedule downtime to catch up and just be.
  14. Change is inevitable — accept that and understand that anything can change at any moment. Being mentally prepared and knowing how you would react is being one step ahead in planning for your desired reaction.

Social Awareness Strategies

Did you ever meet someone and think, “Wow — they just get it”? Now, “it” can have a few different definitions, but those people are essentially the same. They understand you and what you’re dealing with because they have exceptional social awareness skills. Social awareness focuses on learning about and appreciating others.

Here are some strategies to increase your social awareness:

  1. Greet people by name. It’s a personal touch and people appreciate being called by their given name.
  2. Check out body language, which is a dead giveaway to emotions.
  3. Be prepared with a conversation starter for any awkward or uncomfortable social situations.
  4. Focus on words, feelings, and ideas in meetings — not just taking notes.
  5. For social gatherings, plan ahead to avoid stress.
  6. Be present. Instead of living in the past or thinking about the future, appreciate this moment just as it is.
  7. Take 15 minutes to observe your environment and the people in it. You may be surprised at how much you notice when you’re being mindful.
  8. Practice listening. This is an important basic skill that is often overlooked. Listen to the tone, speed, and volume of others when they talk, and read between the lines about the messages implied but not spoken out loud.
  9. Study people — better known as people watching. You’ll see all the unspoken cues people give off when they aren’t aware they’re being observed.
  10. When you think someone feels a certain way, ask (within reason and socially acceptable parameters) to see if your assumption is correct.
  11. Always put yourself in the shoes of other people to explore how they might feel.
  12. Seek the whole picture — invite both your fans and your critics to share their perceptions of you. This is the only way you can improve your EQ.

Relationship Management Strategies

Relationships require work, even those that appear effortless. Maintaining a relationship takes time, effort, and knowledge.

Use these strategies to improve your relationship management skills:

  1. Remain open and be interested in others. By sharing information about yourself, people get a chance to understand and trust you, and they can reciprocate your energy.
  2. Work on your communication skills. Use your self-awareness, selfmanagement, and social awareness skills to help you communicate better.
  3. Be honest and direct to avoid mixed messages. Always be truthful when you’re expressing yourself. People can sense when emotions are fake, and this causes distrust.
  4. Courtesy is important — little things like saying please and thank you really matter.
  5. Be open to all feedback — even criticism — as it is a gift. You can’t improve if you don’t realize there is room for improvement.
  6. Build trust and treat it with reverence. Trust is the most important aspect in building and maintaining relationships. Being open, reliable, and consistent in actions and words builds trust over time.
  7. Be there when people need you. Accessibility — even when spontaneous or inconvenient at times — is important.
  8. Don’t avoid what is unavoidable, like working alongside colleagues you don’t get along with. Think up ways to make the situation more bearable and work to change the things that you can. Plan ahead for how you will manage your emotions in these less-than-ideal situations.
  9. Everyone just wants to be heard. Listen and acknowledge how they feel (even if you disagree).
  10. Show you care and appreciate others. Little gestures can go a long way to making someone feel appreciated.
  11. Be transparent and open. Communicate the rationale behind your decisions to help others understand. Listen to others’ thoughts and feelings and let them know you value their opinions.
  12. Give direct feedback that is constructive and not emotion-based. Feedback is given to address a problem, not a person, so keep it direct and clear. Remain respectful and offer solutions to the problem as well.
  13. If you’re having an argument or heated discussion, be prepared to offer a statement to fix it. This strategy focuses on repair — do you want to be right or do you want a resolution?
  14. How to approach a difficult conversation: Try to find something to agree on. Ask for clarification so you can understand the opposing point of view.

Let go of the urge to be right. Help the other person understand where you are coming from. Look forward, not backward, and keep the conversation flowing. Remain open to the discussion and keep in touch.


If you’re looking to lead a more successful personal or professional life, you need to understand yourself and practice the skills of emotional intelligence regularly. Humans experience a wide range of emotions and mastering them is the key to forging deeper relationships and happier interactions. You may not always be able to control what happens to you, but you can choose how you react to it. The key is having the resources to educate yourself.

Remember, the four core EQ skills are split under two primary competencies:

Personal competence focuses solely on you as an individual and is composed of self-awareness (knowing yourself) and self-management (managing how you react).

Social competence focuses on how you interact with other people and is composed of social awareness (your ability to read the room) and relationship management (using the other skills to manage your relationships).

As with any habit, the key is to practice EQ and reevaluate your results on a regular basis. Utilize the resources provided in this summary to move toward a happier, more successful life.

About Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves are cofounders of TalentSmart, a consulting group that provides training on emotional intelligence to more than half of all Fortune 500 companies. Bradberry is also a LinkedIn influencer and Top Voice, as well as a columnist for many different publications, including Forbes and Inc.


The book is a self-help guide for people who want to improve their emotional intelligence (EQ), which is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. The authors argue that EQ is a crucial skill for success in both personal and professional life, and that it can be learned and enhanced through practice.

The book is based on the authors’ research and experience in the field of emotional intelligence, as well as on the findings of other experts and studies. The book provides a framework for assessing one’s current level of EQ, as well as a set of strategies and exercises for developing four core skills of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Self-awareness is the ability to identify and label one’s emotions accurately, as well as to understand their causes and effects. Self-awareness helps one to avoid emotional hijacking, which is when strong emotions interfere with rational thinking and decision making. Some of the strategies for improving self-awareness are: keeping a journal, observing one’s emotional triggers, and asking for feedback.

Self-management is the ability to regulate one’s emotions effectively, especially negative ones such as anger, fear, or anxiety. Self-management helps one to cope with stress, overcome challenges, and achieve goals. Some of the strategies for improving self-management are: breathing deeply, practicing gratitude, and using positive self-talk.

Social awareness is the ability to empathize with and understand the emotions of others, as well as to read their verbal and nonverbal cues. Social awareness helps one to build rapport, trust, and influence with others. Some of the strategies for improving social awareness are: listening actively, observing body language, and acknowledging others’ feelings.

Relationship management is the ability to communicate and interact with others effectively, especially in conflict situations or during change. Relationship management helps one to resolve issues, collaborate with others, and inspire them. Some of the strategies for improving relationship management are: giving constructive feedback, using humor, and celebrating success.

I found the book to be very helpful and practical. The authors have a clear and engaging writing style that makes the book easy to read and follow. They also use a lot of examples and stories from their own lives and from other successful people to illustrate their points and make them relatable. I liked how they balanced the theoretical and scientific aspects of emotional intelligence with the concrete and actionable steps for improving it.

The book is not only informative but also empowering. It encourages us to take charge of our own emotions and use them as a source of strength rather than weakness. It also reminds us of the importance of connecting with others emotionally and building positive relationships. It is a book that can help anyone who wants to improve their personal or professional life.

Overall I think that this book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to improve their emotional intelligence. It is not a book that tells us what to do but rather a book that shows us what we can do. It is a book that will make us think differently and act differently. It is a book that will make us emotionally smarter.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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