Emotional Intelligence has been identified since the 1990s as one of the key areas influencing our ability to succeed. We are a social species and our relationships help define us. There has been a lot of excellent research in the field — but knowing the theory and knowing how to apply it can be two different things. Emotional intelligence programs are a growing part of training and development for many companies, and TalentSmart has been in the business for a decade. Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, offers TalentSmart’s program for the first time in book form. The book has an accessible and practical self-contained program to identify and improve skills to enhance emotional intelligence, and I recommend it highly.
There are different definitions and models of emotional intelligence, or EQ, and the approach in this book is best described by the emotional competencies (mixed) model, popularized by Daniel Goleman. Goleman identified four critical areas to social competence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Key to this theory is that these traits can be learned and therefore improved. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 offers a very practical approach to evaluating our own levels of competence in these areas and learning strategies to improve.
The first step is to take TalentSmart’s on-line EQ appraisal. I was a little unsure how useful an on-line test would be, but the process was actually very interesting. Because the evaluation gives you a grade for each of the four competencies, based on comparisons to a normed sample, you can compare your grades to different populations. Best of all, having identified your areas of weakness, you get a customized learning program to illustrate how to improve in those areas. The program includes short video clips from films for you to analyze in terms of emotions and then points you to the relevant section of the book to learn more.
However, you do not have to take the test to find the book useful, though the process of honestly asking yourself the test questions is a helpful step. The chapters are well laid out, with examples of both good and poor skill sets in action. After explaining the four competencies, the authors give an action plan with specific strategies to increase each area.
The chapters are short and the advice is practical, so the narrative is lively and easy to read. The advice is based on current research and consists of such tactics as identifying your trigger buttons for emotional flooding, seeking feedback and going people-watching to increase your ability to read non-verbal clues. Nothing seemed groundbreaking or new — the value of the book is in how it provides context as it breaks down each skill to really understand how to grow it.
TalentSmart is in the business of teaching emotional intelligence to companies and that focus is evident in this program. All of the stories illustrating various points are set in white collar office environments, and the theme of job advancement and leadership is woven throughout the volume. However, the skills the authors describe would be useful anywhere, so as long as the business setting does not put you off, the advice does translate to different environments.
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 has succinct and practical advice on how to perceive and manage emotions to foster better relationships, and it is a smooth read. That’s a great combination, and I recommend it.