Woman in a cardigan reading a book by a window

Let’s take a beat to talk about something we often overlook when talking about intelligence: emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to process and manage your own emotions, while also being able to understand the feelings of those around you. It requires mindfulness of what you’re feeling, as well as social awareness of what others may be feeling.

These things can be a real challenge—sometimes our feelings are so big it seems like it might be better to shove them down, lock them up, and never look at them again. Right?

The truth is, putting in the time to develop your emotional intelligence has big benefits. It can help you achieve greater success in both your personal and professional life. It makes 

relationship management a hell of a lot easier, which leads to ease in your friendships, relationships, and business partnerships.

So, how do you develop this killer tool in your arsenal? One of the best ways to understand and develop emotional intelligence is through reading books about it. This way, you can learn more and reflect on what you’ve learned. That’s why today, we’re rounding up all the best emotional intelligence books!

Best Books on Emotional Intelligence


13 Best Books on Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

One of the key points of this book is that the factors that make up emotional intelligence—including self-awareness, self-management, and empathy—are all factors that can be strengthened throughout adulthood. Unlike IQ, which tends to stay the same throughout our lives, our emotional intelligence can continue to develop as we get older. When we invest into our emotional strengths and weaknesses, we grow and get better. 

In this bestselling book, Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, dives into research showing insight into our “two minds” (the rational and the emotional) and how they might work together.  

Looking for ways to flex those emotional intelligence muscles? These 7 Trainings of Emotional Fitness from The Blonde Files can help you develop that emotional beach bod. 

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

Looking for tools to help you manage, adapt, and stand out in your competitive workplace? This book has the tools for you. This book provides practical applications of four core emotional intelligence skills: 

  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
  • Social Awareness
  • Relationship Management.

By investing into these four skills, you can boost your EQ, or your emotional intelligence quotient—think IQ, but for feelings. 

Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

This book underscores the extreme importance of emotionally intelligent leadership. It draws from decades of research showing that great leaders have something called “resonance.” Resonance is the ability to drive emotions in a positive direction to get results, as well as using different leadership styles as required by each situation they encounter.

This book redefines the expectations of successful leadership to not only be skilled and smart, but to use emotional intelligence competencies like self-awareness and empathy to get the job done. 

Author Annie McKee also wrote a helpful quiz for the Harvard Business Review to determine if you lead with emotional intelligence. After you’re done reading, jump into some of the best Dear Media podcasts on leadership including Work Party, The Dream Bigger Podcast, and The Career Contessa

The Power of Emotions at Work by Karla McLaren

You’ve probably heard that you want to avoid showing your emotions at work, but that’s advice for an older age. Why? Suppressing your emotions leads to a loss in productivity, decreased creativity, and job dissatisfaction. NOT GOOD STUFF. 

Instead, you want to be an emotional entrepreneur, using your emotions to your advantage in the workplace. The Power of Emotions at Work can show you how to co-create a healthy social environment in the workplace, how to identify your emotional role and the roles of others, and how to support those responsible for emotional labor in your workplace.

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown

If you haven’t heard of Brené Brown and you’re looking to learn more about emotional intelligence, it’s time to get to reading. Brown does research on emotional intelligence and specific emotions like shame and grief. This research can change how we see work, life, and each other.

In Atlas of the Heart, Brown maps out eighty-seven of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. She provides skills and an actionable framework for meaningful connection through putting a name and language to our feelings, allowing us to be brave and vulnerable.

Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is a leader in the field of emotional intelligence, especially when it comes to applying emotional intelligence to pillars of leadership. This book is Goleman’s first comprehensive collection of his key findings on leadership. Reading this book can help boost management, performance, and innovation.

The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships by Jeanne Segal

If you’re looking for easily applicable tools for raising your emotional IQ, look no further. Jeanne Segal has put together a practical, ready-to-use guide for building your emotional muscles. This book provides the reader with five essential tools to develop emotional competence in order to benefit your relationships in the workplace, at home, and in your social life. 

Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work, and Connect Across Differences by Helen Reiss

Love a research-based, neuroscience approach to feelings? Then check out the Empathy Effect. Helen Reiss discusses how we are all in constant, natural resonance with one another’s feelings. Reiss aims to provide a definitive resource on empathy, engaging with the science behind how it works, new research on how it develops, and tools for building your capacity for empathy. This book increases your ability to create an authentic connection with others in any situation.

Set of book covers on emotional intelligence

The Color of Emotional Intelligence: Elevating Our Self and Social Awareness to Address Inequities by Farah Harris

This book explores how emotional intelligence might be used to break barriers to equity. Psychotherapist and well-being expert, Farah Harris, uses personal stories, anecdotes, and insight to help readers understand the fundamentals of emotional intelligence and why it’s so hard to apply. It also examines different types of stressors, which may lead to people relying on skills other than emotional intelligence. 

Self-Awareness (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series)

Self awareness, one of the four core components of emotional intelligence, allows you to see your talents, shortcomings, and potential. The goal of this book is to help you understand your own thoughts and emotions to spark more productive and rewarding relationships with coworkers, employees, and bosses. This volume includes the work of emotional intelligence thought leaders like Daniel Goleman, Robert Steven Kaplan, and Susan David. It was compiled by the Harvard Business Review.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

Another book by Brown makes the list, as the power to be vulnerable is an important aspect of emotional intelligence. In this book, Brown uses 12 years of pioneering research to dispel the myth that vulnerability is weakness. News flash: It’s not! 

Instead, Brown argues the vulnerability makes us stronger, and it is our most accurate measure of courage. Vulnerability is the core of difficult emotions, but it is also the thing that gives us the ability to feel joy and belonging. She writes: “When we shut ourselves off from vulnerability, we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.” That’s a damn good quote!

For more on vulnerability listen to the episode of Him & Her called Peak Performance, How To Achieve Your Goals, Vulnerability, & How To Recover During Tough Times.

EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence by Justin Bariso

This book brings the concept of emotional intelligence into the now—where social media and more threatens to complicate relationships. EQ Applied teaches you to channel your strong, “negative” emotions in a way that helps you to improve your relationships by breaking down barriers. 

We love that this book explains how thoughts and habits affect emotions, and then teaches you how to replace bad habits with better ones. Lastly, you’ll learn how people use emotions to manipulate you, and how you can guard against that. 

Emotional Agility by Susan David

Emotional Agility examines the path of those who are successful and finds that many find they are detoured along their path to success. This book argues that “emotional agility” is the difference maker between success and failure. Big whoa! 

Emotional agility is a science-based approach that supports us through life’s twists and turns—even when there are so f*cking many of them. This book encourages accepting those twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind. Susan David wrote this book after studying emotions, happiness, and achievement for over twenty years, so you know she knows her sh*t.

Another set of book covers on emotional intelligence

How’s your emotional IQ?

Wherever it is, these books show us that our emotional IQ is something that can grow and change. So whether you’re a brilliant EQ baddie, or you’re adding every book in this list to your cart, emotional intelligence is something that can help you thrive in your everyday life. SO why not give it an investment? It’ll make everything easier!

Now that you’ve got all this reading to do, you might need something to help carry your books around. Try this tote that doubles as a mindfulness reminder to appreciate the beauty around you!

When you’re done flexing your EQ muscles, head over to the blog for more psychology and pop culture!