21 Best Books On Emotional Intelligence (Reviewed 2022)

Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your own emotions and respond to the emotions of others in a positive way. It was first studied in the 90’s by researchers Salovey and Mayer.

However, it was a psychologist by the name of Daniel Goleman who made the concept of emotional intelligence famous when he wrote his book, Emotional Intelligence, in 1995. Since then, many other books have been published on the topic.

The concept of emotional intelligence has received a lot of traction because those who have studied and written about it claim that it is more important for success in life than IQ. Authors of books on emotional intelligence also claim that while IQ is thought to be stable over a person’s life, emotional intelligence can be developed with practice.

In this article, you’ll find some of our best picks for developing emotional intelligence in your personal and work life.

Personal development top picks

Workplace top picks

Emotional intelligence books for personal development

The books in this list will be helpful if you want to develop your emotional intelligence from a personal development perspective. You’ll become more self-aware and learn how to manage your own emotions better. The skills you’ll learn from these books will help you in all aspects of your personal life, from managing stress better to improving your communication skills and relationships.

Top pick for understanding what emotional intelligence is

1. Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman (4.4 stars on Amazon)

With over 5 million copies sold since it was first published in 2005, the value that this book offers is unquestionable.

In this book, Goleman dissects the research on emotional intelligence and presents his insights in an easy-to-understand way. Goleman helps the reader understand why emotional intelligence is more important for success in life than general intelligence.

By the time you’ve reached the end of this book, you’ll know:

  • What emotional intelligence is.
  • How emotional intelligence develops.
  • Why you handle your emotions the way you do.
  • Why being aware of your emotions and managing them effectively is the key to better relationships, health, and work performance.

Buy this book if:

  • You’re interested in learning more about emotional intelligence, especially how it develops and why it is important.
  • You’re interested in the science behind emotions.

Do not buy this book if:

  • You’re looking for practical steps on how to improve your emotional intelligence.

Top picks for a quick, basic overview of emotional intelligence

2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0, by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves, & Patrick Lencioni (4.5 stars on Amazon)

Emotional Intelligence 2.0. is a quick, easy read that not only explains what emotional intelligence is but also includes ways to help you build it.

The authors break emotional intelligence down into 4 key skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. They claim that mastering these skills using their step-by-step method can help you attain success in all aspects of life.

The book also provides access to a free questionnaire that measures emotional intelligence, so you’ll get to learn about how you’re functioning on an emotional level and what areas you need to work on most.

Buy this book if:

  • You’re looking for a basic overview of emotional intelligence.
  • Your social skills are at a very basic level.
  • You want a quick, easy read.

Do not buy this book if:

  • You’re already somewhat familiar with the idea of emotional intelligence, and you’re looking for a book that goes into more depth.

Disclaimer: some readers seem to have had an issue with the passcode for the questionnaire.

3. Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook: Little Exercises for an Intuitive Life, by Gill Hasson (4.5 stars on Amazon)

The Emotional Intelligence Pocketbook was written by Gill Hasson, an author, and teacher in the mental health and wellbeing space.

In this pocketbook, Hasson provides a practical guide for understanding your own and others’ emotions better. She includes tips on how to become more assertive, how to have better relationships, and how to handle anxiety.

Read this book if:

  • You want a simple overview of emotional intelligence and quick, easy tips.
  • You want a book you can take with you anywhere that can fit in your pocket!

Do not read this book if:

  • You’re looking for in-depth knowledge about emotional intelligence.

Top pick for parents, teachers, and leaders

4. Permission to Feel, by Marc Brackett (4.7 stars on Amazon)

This book by Yale University professor Marc Brackett comes highly recommended. Brackett has studied the science behind emotion for 25 years, and he runs the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

In Permission to Feel, Brackett explains what emotional intelligence is using a powerful combination of up-to-date research and his own personal experiences. Readers love Brackett’s compassionate and humorous style, which makes the book a fun and engaging read.

Whether you’re looking to improve your life at home, school, or work, Brackett’s got you covered. He provides practical tips to help you improve the way you function in all areas of life through emotional mastery.

Brackett also invented the ruler system: an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning which helps schools build a positive climate for children.

Buy this book if:

  • You’re a leader, teacher, educator, or parent.
  • You need help reducing stress and burnout.
  • You work at a school and need help creating a positive climate.
  • You’re looking for a proven system for enhancing social and emotional learning that works.

Top pick for a comprehensive collection of books on emotional intelligence

5. The power of self-discipline: achieve the life you want by overcoming codependency and anxiety in relationships. Manage your emotions and increase willpower to change your habits. By Charles Clear & Mike Peace (5 stars on Amazon)

With a 5-star rating on Amazon and zero bad reviews, it’s hard to criticize this collection of books. The authors claim that this collection of books will help you:

  • Manage your emotions
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve relationships
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Master self-discipline
  • Build habits that will enable you to live the life of your dreams

The authors use successful people as examples of how to behave and what to do to increase your emotional intelligence.

Buy this collection of books if:

  • You want a deep dive into the topic of emotional intelligence.
  • You want to cover additional topics like self-discipline and habit formation.

Top pick for improving your mindset

6. Mindset: The new psychology of success, by Carol Dweck. (4.6 stars on Amazon)

Technically, this is not a book on emotional intelligence. However, it does speak to something similar that is equally important for success in life: mindset. In this book, reputable psychologist and author Carol Dweck talks about how the way we think influences our behavior in a negative or positive way.

Dweck teaches that with the right mindset, our potential for success is unlimited! In this book, you’ll learn the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, and how the latter can help you lead a more fulfilling life.

Buy this book if:

  • Mindset is a new topic for you.
  • You’re a teacher or parent who wants to know how to help your children develop a healthy mindset.

Do not buy this book if:

  • You do not like to read a lot of anecdotes.
  • You are looking for a book to help you resolve a more deep-seated mental health issue that can cause a negative mindset.

Top pick for practical activities

7. Emotional Intelligence for Dummies, by Steven J. Stein (4.5 stars on Amazon)

This book was written by clinical psychologist and founder of a global behavior analytics company, Steven Stein. Stein’s work has been published in academic journals and has also been featured on TV, radio, and in newspapers.

In Emotional Intelligence for Dummies, Stein provides practical tips to help you become more emotionally intelligent. The aim is to help you improve your relationships, increase your confidence, and become happier overall.

Buy this book if:

  • You want a way to assess your emotional intelligence.
  • You’re looking for lots of activities to try.

Top pick for research-driven advice on developing emotional intelligence

8. Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, by Susan David (4.6 stars on Amazon)

This best-selling book was written by psychologist Susan David who developed the concept of “emotional agility” after studying emotions, happiness, and achievement for 2 decades.

In her book, David uses her research on emotional agility to provide readers with the tools needed for success in life. Among other topics, she addresses positive self-talk, adapting to your circumstances, and embracing challenges.

Read this book if:

  • You’re interested in the science and psychology behind emotional intelligence.
  • You want to feel empowered to change.

Emotional intelligence books for the workplace

The books listed below are our top picks for books on developing emotional intelligence in the workplace. There are books that are helpful for leaders specifically and others that are relevant to anyone who wants to advance in their career. There is also one industry-specific book for salespeople.

Top pick for improving workplace communication

1. The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, 3rd Edition by Steven Stein & Howard Book (4.5 stars on Amazon)

In The EQ Edge, Stein and Howard do a great job of showing what emotional intelligence looks like in the real world. Using case study examples, they introduce 15 core skills that make up emotional intelligence. They also include practical exercises to help the reader develop each skill.

Many readers recommend this book for its usefulness in the workplace. Readers claim that the book can help improve workplace communication because it teaches you how to express your emotions effectively. It is also claimed that this book can help HR determine which employees should be placed in leadership roles based on their level of emotional intelligence.

Buy this book if:

  • You want to improve communication in your company.
  • You’re looking for activities to build emotional intelligence that you can use in a group setting.
  • You’re looking for good, real-life examples of useful skills in action.

Top picks for becoming a better leader

2. Guide to Emotional Intelligence, by Harvard Business Review (4.6 stars on Amazon).

This book by Harvard Business Review focuses on the importance of emotional intelligence at work. It covers the basics of emotional intelligence, including how to become more aware of your emotions and how to manage them better. It also talks about how to tap into and influence the emotions of other people.

Many readers recommend Guide to Emotional Intelligence as a useful aid for leadership development at work. They regard the book’s teachings as helpful for managing and influencing colleagues, negotiating, and tackling common workplace challenges.

Buy this book if:

  • You want to learn how to lead people by tapping into your own and others’ emotions.
  • You want to become a better leader overall.
  • You’d like to improve your emotional intelligence in the context of work.

3. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence (with featured article “What Makes a Leader?” by Harvard Business Review (4.7 stars on Amazon)

This book, also published by Harvard Business Review, is a collection of some excellent articles on the topic of emotional intelligence in the workplace. The articles focus mostly on workplace leadership.

Harvard Business Review promises that these articles will teach you how to master your emotions, make good decisions as a leader, and manage conflict in teams like a pro.

Read this book if:

  • You’re a leader at a large company and want to improve your emotional intelligence at work.
  • You want to be more aware of your management style and how it can help or hinder your success at work.

4. Emotional Intelligence for the Modern Leader: A Guide to Cultivating Effective Leadership and Organizations by Christopher Conners (4.6 stars on Amazon)

Conners, the author of this book, is a well-known speaker and executive coach for leaders. In his daily life, Conners helps leaders improve their emotional intelligence and build successful organizations.

His book is aimed specifically at leaders who want to grow their emotional intelligence. He introduces the pillars of high emotional intelligence in leadership and shows how successful leaders have demonstrated emotional intelligence in the past. He also helps the reader figure out their leadership style and talks about how it can impact an organization’s success.

Buy this book if:

  • You want an introduction to leadership theory.
  • You’re just getting started as a leader.
  • You have or want to start your own business.

Do not buy this book if:

  • You’re looking for advanced tools to improve your leadership.
  • You’re an already established leader looking for help to advance.

5. Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis (4.6 stars on Amazon)

In this book, Goleman and Boyatzis discuss the importance of emotional intelligence in business and leadership. This book comes highly recommended and is a resource often used by universities and professional training programs.

Read this book if:

  • You want advice for corporate leadership specifically.
  • You’re looking for good examples and case studies.

Do not read this book if:

  • You’re looking for practical steps you can implement.

6. Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (4.7 stars on Amazon)

This book is a collection of articles that summarizes Goleman’s findings on emotional intelligence in leadership. They include “What makes a leader,” “Managing with heart,” “The group IQ,” and “Leadership that gets results.” These articles make up a good toolbox for all leaders, including coaches, managers, educators, and HR professionals who need help managing and supporting others.

Read this book if:

  • You want access to some of Goleman’s best articles on emotional intelligence in leadership in one place.
  • You need help leading and developing others.
  • You want to know how to connect better with the people you lead.
  • You’re interested in insights from neuroscience and psychology.

7. Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness by Annie McKee, & Richard Boyatzis (4.6 stars on Amazon)

This book was written by two experts in the fields of leadership and organizational psychology, McKee and Boyatzis. Becoming a Resonant Leader is informed by two decades of longitudinal research and practical experience working with leaders from all parts of the world.

Through real-life stories and practical activities, McKee and Boyatzis show readers how to build their emotional intelligence for personal and professional success.

Read this book if:

  • You want practical activities that will help you build your emotional intelligence as a leader.
  • You’re in the business of developing leaders.
  • You’re seeking personal and professional growth.
  • You’re ready to do the work to improve yourself.

8. At the Heart of Leadership: How To Get Results with Emotional Intelligence by Joshua Freedman (4.4 stars on Amazon)

This book’s author, Joshua Freedman, has his own consulting company and runs successful programs for organizations and leaders around the world. At the Heart of Leadership introduces Freedman’s 3 step process for developing emotional intelligence at work. His aim is to help you excel as a leader.

Read this book if:

  • You want practical help for increasing your emotional intelligence at work.
  • You enjoy learning from case studies.
  • You want easy-to-follow strategies.
  • You want to improve your interactions with others at work.

Top pick for emotional intelligence in the workplace (comprehensive)

9. EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence by Justin Bariso (4.6 stars on Amazon)

This book was written by one of the top voices in management and workplace culture, Justin Bariso. In EQ Applied, Bariso explains the science of emotional intelligence and uses real-world examples to bring theory to life. Bariso teaches you how to handle your emotions better and stop bad habits that get in the way of you attaining success at work.

Buy this book if:

  • You want in-depth knowledge of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
  • You’re looking for a lot of examples and context.
  • You want a practical, easy read.
  • You want a book that’s grounded in research.

Top picks for quick and easy reads on emotional intelligence in the workplace

10. Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: How to Use EQ to Build Strong Relationships and Thrive in Your Career by Mark Creamer (4.6 stars on Amazon)

This book is based on the work of leadership coach Mark Creamer. In his work as a leadership coach, Creamer helps organizations develop great leaders and improve overall workplace communication. He focuses on building emotional intelligence in leaders and employees alike.

In his book, Creamer offers practical tips to help develop emotional intelligence in the workplace. He covers everything from how to make good decisions, manage stress, deal with conflict, and develop positive work relationships.

Buy this book if:

  • Emotional intelligence is a new concept to you.
  • You’re a leader needing help in understanding your employees better.
  • You’re looking for practical examples of emotional intelligence in action.
  • You want to assess your level of emotional intelligence.
  • You’re looking to improve your interactions with people at work.

11. Quick Emotional Intelligence Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Team Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes by Adele Lynn (4.3 stars on Amazon)

This book was written by Adele Lynn, a speaker, and consultant specializing in emotional intelligence at work. In her book, Lynn introduces activities to help leaders and teams improve communication by learning to express their emotions and handle conflict in healthy ways.

Read this book if:

  • You want to improve the way teams in your business work together.
  • You want to know how to approach common problems in the workplace, especially in team environments.
  • You want simple strategies.

12. The Emotionally Intelligent Manager: How to Develop and Use the Four Key Emotional Skills of Leadership, David Caruso & Peter Salovey (4.5 stars on Amazon)

This book teaches you how to manage your emotions as a leader in the workplace so that you can make better decisions, solve problems, cope with difficulties, and be successful. The authors introduce a 4-level hierarchy of emotional skills and show readers how to develop and use these skills effectively at work.

Read this book if:

  • Emotional intelligence is a new concept to you.
  • You enjoy reading stories and case studies.
  • You’re looking for an easy read.

Top pick for emotional intelligence for the sales industry

13. Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success: Connect with Customers and Get Results by Colleen Stanley (4.7 stars on Amazon)

This book was written by sales expert Colleen Stanley, president of a company that specializes in sales and sales management training.

In her book, Stanley shares the importance of emotional intelligence for sales success. She offers tips for increasing your emotional intelligence as a salesperson. Her tips cover a range of skills, including listening and asking better questions. She also explains how to be more likable, trustworthy, and empathetic so that you can close more deals.

Read this book if:

  • You want to know how to be more successful at all stages of the sales process.
  • You want to improve your sales communication skills.
  • You enjoy reading about case studies.
  • You want actionable tips.

Kirsty Britz has a Master’s degree in Psychology from the University of New York in Prague, Training in Person-Centered Counselling, and a Career Coaching Certification. Read more.

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