Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves

Most of the business books that we take a look at have quotes from thought leaders and high-profile celebrities, but there aren’t many of them that have a quote from The Dalai Lama. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 does, though – His Holiness said that it “succinctly explains how to deal with emotions creatively and employ our intelligence in a beneficial way.”

What makes this book different is that it has a single, simple purpose: to help you to increase your EQ (emotional quotient). It does this by providing what the authors describe as “a step-by-step program to harness the power of the #1 predictor of professional success and personal intelligence”. It even includes 66 proven strategies to increase self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. (Check out the audio version on Audible and get a second audiobook FREE – click hereOpens in a new tab.)

On top of that, the two authors have worked together before on their bestselling The Emotional Intelligence Appraisal. The book even includes a foreword by Patrick Lencioni, the author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, as well as a new and enhanced version of what the authors describe as the world’s most popular emotional intelligence test.

So as you can see, there’s a lot to love here, and we’ve only just scratched the surface. And so with that in mind, let’s dive on in and take a look at a few of the ideas that the authors have to share.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

The book kicks off with a story about a shark attack, which the authors use to explain the way in which we feel and think: “The physical pathway for emotional intelligence starts in the brain, at the spinal cord. Your primary senses enter here and must travel to the front of your brain before you can think rationally about your experience. But first they travel through the limbic system, the place where emotions are experienced. Emotional Intelligence requires effective communication between the rational and emotional centres of the brain.”

But why is emotional intelligence important in the first place? For a start, the two authors point to studies that show that “people with the highest levels of intelligence (IQ) outperform those with average IQs just 20% of the time, while people with average IQs outperform those with high IQs 70% of the time.”

How could this be? Surely the more intelligent people should outperform those who are less intelligent – unless some other factor is at play. The idea is that emotional intelligence is this other factor, and that the 70% of people with average IQs more than likely had above average EQs. Unfortunately, part of the reason why this result is so surprising in the first place is that emotional intelligence is often undervalued, and Bradbury and Greaves dedicate the rest of the book to addressing it.

Understanding and Managing Emotions

“Despite the growing focus on EQ,” the authors explain, “a global deficit in understanding and managing emotions remains.  Only 36% of the people we tested are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen. This means that two thirds of us are typically controlled by our emotions and are not yet skilled at spotting them and using them to our benefit.”

This brings us on to a more comprehensive definition of emotional intelligence as the ability to “recognise and understand emotions in yourself and others” and “to use this awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships”. Put in this way, it’s easy to see how emotional intelligence could be useful in the workplace, whether you’re dealing with clients and co-workers or whether you’re talking to your customers.

As for what emotional intelligence actually looks like, the authors point to four key skills:

Skill #1: Self-Awareness: The ability to accurately perceive your own emotions in the moment and to understand your tendencies across situations.

Skill #2: Self-Management: This depends on your self-awareness and refers to your ability to use your awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and to direct your behaviour in a positive way.

Skill #3: Social Awareness: Your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and to understand what’s really going on with them.

Skill #4: Relationship Management: This skill often taps into your abilities in the first three skills and refers to your ability to use your awareness of your own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully.

And if you’re struggling with self-awareness, the authors have you covered with a 15-point list of self-awareness strategies to get you going:

15 Self Awareness Strategies
1. Quit treating your feelings as good or bad
2. Observe the ripple effect from your emotions
3. Lean into your discomfort
4. Feel your emotions physically
5. Know who and what pushes your buttons
6. Watch yourself like a hawk
7. Keep a journal about your emotions
8. Don’t be fooled by a bad mood
9. Don’t be fooled by a good mood, either
10. Stop and ask yourself why you do the things you do
11. Visit your values
12. Check yourself
13. Spot your emotions in books, movies and music
14. Seek feedback
15. Get to know yourself under stress

Like cars on the street

The authors explain that information heads between the rational and emotional centres of your brain in a similar way to how cars work on a city street. When you get your approach just right, traffic flows smoothly in both directions. “Increases in the traffic strengthen the connection between the rational and emotional centres of your brain,” they say. “Your EQ is greatly affected by your ability to keep this road well-travelled. The more you think about what you’re feeling – and do something productive with that feeling – the more developed this pathway becomes.”

The book also includes a comprehensive set of EQ tools that are designed to help you to better understand your emotions and to put them to use, but we’re not going to cover that here. It also includes a comprehensive set of self-management strategies:

17 Self-Management Strategies
1. Breathe right
2. Create an emotion vs. reason list
3. Make your goals public
4. Count to ten
5. Sleep on it
6. Talk to a skilled self-manager
7. Smile and laugh more
8. Set aside some time in your day for problem solving
9. Take control of your self-talk
10. Visualise yourself succeeding
11. Clean up your sleep hygiene
12. Focus your attention on your freedoms, rather than your limitations
13. Stay synchronised
14. Speak to someone who isn’t emotionally invested in your problem
15. Learn a valuable lesson from everyone you encounter
16. Put a mental recharge into your schedule
17. Accept that change is just around the corner

“As you master each of the strategies and incorporate them into your daily routine,” the authors say, “you’ll develop an increased capacity to respond effectively to your emotions. Of course, no matter how skilled you become in managing your emotions, there are always going to be situations that push your buttons. Your life won’t morph into a fairy tale devoid of obstacles, but you will equip yourself with everything you need to take the wheel and drive.”

By this point, it becomes pretty obvious that the majority of the rest of the book is dedicated to the practical strategies that you need to boost your emotional intelligence, with topics galore for each different chapter. For example, the authors’ self-awareness strategies include:

17 Social-Awareness Strategies
1. Greet people by name
2. Watch body language
3. Make timing everything
4. Develop a back-pocket question
5. Don’t take notes at meetings
6. Plan ahead for social gatherings
7. Catch the mood of the room
8. Clear away the clutter
9. Live in the moment
10. Go on a 15-minute tour
11. Watch EQ at the movies
12. Practice the art of listening
13. Go people watching
14. Understand the rules of the culture game
15. Test for accuracy
16. Step into their shoes
17. Seek the whole picture

“To build your social awareness skills,” the authors explain, “you’ll find yourself observing people in all kinds of situations. You may be observing someone from afar while you’re in a checkout line, or you may be right in the middle of a conversation observing the person to whom you’re speaking. You’ll learn to pick up body language, facial expressions, postures, tone of voice, and even what’s hidden beneath the surface, like deeper emotions and thoughts.”

Relationship Management Strategies

This last major section in the book deals with our relationships with other people, and as you might expect it comes with a checklist of tools and strategies to help you to make the most out of your interactions with other people:

17 Relationship Management Strategies
1. Be open and be curious
2. Enhance your natural communication style
3. Avoid giving mixed signals
4. Remember the little things that pack a punch
5. Take feedback well
6. Build trust
7. Have an “open door” policy
8. Only get mad on purpose
9. Don’t avoid the inevitable
10. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings
11. Complement the person’s emotions or situation
12. When you care, show it
13. Explain your decisions, don’t just make them
14. Make your feedback direct and constructive
15. Align your intention with your impact
16. Offer a ‘fix it’ statement during a broken conversation
17. Tackle a tough conversation

“In the end,” the authors explain, referencing the famous John Donne poem, “no man is an island. Relationships are an essential and fulfilling part of life. Since you’re half of any relationship, you have half of the responsibility of deepening those connections.”

What’s next?

With the major sections of the book out of the way, the final chapter is an epilogue which focusses on the latest studies and development in the field of emotional intelligence. It’s not exactly required reading, but there is a decent amount of information there which can help you to further understand why emotional intelligence is so relevant – and why it’s so important for modern businessmen.

For example, he notes that during the recession, the number of emotionally skilled workers dropped from 18.3% in 2007 to 16.7% in 2008. “In other words,” they explain, “we lost 2.8 million highly skilled soldiers in the battle for a more emotionally intelligent society. That’s 2.8 million people who could have been guideposts showing others the way to more emotionally intelligent behaviours, but are instead struggling to keep their own skills sharp.”

But ultimately, there’s so much evidence to show that focussing on emotional intelligence is a good idea that we could never cover it all here. Besides, by now you should be convinced – and the real challenge is actually developing the emotional intelligence you need. The good news is that this summary should have helped you to get off to a good start.


Now that you know just the highlights of what you can learn from Emotional Intelligence 2.0, it’s over to you so that you can put what you’ve learned today into practice. It’s also worth picking up a copy of the book if you can, especially when you bear in mind that there are 66 different strategies inside and there’s no way that we could cover them all in detail.

In the meantime, we hope that the tips and tricks we’ve shared today have helped you to rethink your approach to business. We also hope you get a chance to try out the emotional intelligence test, because it can help to give you a unique understanding of the way that your mind works. Once you have a better understanding of your emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to make specific decisions based on the lessons that you’ve learned to guide your business in the right direction.

Emotional intelligence has never been more important, and it’s the businesses and businesspeople who understand this who’ll become the most successful in the years to come. The board room is no longer a battlefield, and the aggressive styles of 1980s Wall Street are an easy way to get yourself fired and to lose customers. We’re entering an EQ-based age, and if you don’t adapt to it then you’re quickly going to get left behind. Good luck.

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