The measure of your emotions

Success rests on a multiplicity of factors. There is no single trait that in itself sufficiently predicts success. While most self-help books stress productivity, efficiency, getting things done, there is more to living a fully actualized life than raw power. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, also plays a surprisingly important role.

EQ is a term that has been on the up and up for the past few decades. While IQ has a firmly established pedigree in social science, EQ is somewhat more nebulous. This makes sense. After all, it is easier to measure and quantify the capacity to learn or to problem solve. It is a much harder thing to put a number on the grace and ease with which some people are able to navigate social situations and control their own emotions.

That being said, research into EQ has come a long way since Abraham Maslow first introduced the concept in the 50s. This is where Emotional Intelligence 2.0 comes in. First written in 2009 by social scientist Travis Bradberry, it is still an excellent introduction to the concept of emotional intelligence and practical ways to improve your own EQ.

There are two basic ideas that undergird the rest of the book. First, that the brain is structured in such a way that we respond to events emotionally and reflexively before conscious decision making kicks in. Second, that while intelligence and personality are essentially predetermined from early childhood, emotional intelligence can be worked on and improved.

The book then breaks down the four key skills of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The first step is to “Know thyself,” to understand what your emotions are, what they want, and how to assert your rationality over your emotional impulses. Once you understand your own emotions, you can look to things like body language, tone of voice, and relationship dynamics to see how emotions play out in others.

The book is well researched and clearly written. The authors provide a lot of different exercises and practices meant to help you train the different EQ skills. These can range from the fairly helpful to the gimmicky and basic. The ones relating to body-language, observing, and learning from others are particularly intriguing.

On the whole, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a useful and actionable book. It is not life-changing, but it is a solid introduction to a key aspect of self-improvement that is all too often overlooked.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry is available for purchase here.

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