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Fifteen books to help you understand emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence develops with a clear understanding of our own emotions. Our team of experts recommends books that can teach you the basics. 

There have been various books written on EQ: that help people understand themselves better
There have been various books written on EQ: that help people understand themselves better (Unsplash)

Emotional intelligence is a term that is used quite freely in today's world. If one were to try and unpack the word, it would be linked to an understanding of feelings related to situations we experience ourselves or observe others experiencing. Emotional intelligence develops with a clear understanding of our own emotions - how they develop, what makes them visit us, what makes them stronger and weaker. When we understand our own emotions, it gets easier to develop an emotional understanding of other people.

There have been various books written on EQ: these books stand out since they are focused on helping readers develop a better emotional understanding of themselves, which, in turn, help build a better understanding of other people. Furthermore, these are written by practitioners who have researched these areas before presenting helpful tools or techniques.

Riona Lall

RE-CBT and EMDR Counsellor, Mumbai

Riona Lall
Riona Lall (Special Arrangement)

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman introduced the term to the mainstream, spoke of different theories of intelligence and highlighted the importance of emotional intelligence. He also writes about optimism and dealing with tragedy and how putting in words what we are experiencing can be helpful in understanding emotions.

Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett

Marc Brackett is the founding director of the Center for Emotional Intelligence at Yale University. In this book, he writes about the five-step method he has developed: RULER - an evidence-based approach to better understand social and emotional learning. He outlines the five-step method with examples so that readers can practise these techniques to develop better emotional regulation. He also writes about a Mood Meter, which can help us identify and define the feelings we are experiencing in different situations.

Courage to Feel by Andrew J. Seubert

The book's focus is on emotional honesty and how by listening to our emotions and what they are trying to tell us, we can communicate better what we are experiencing and be more compassionate with others around us. In addition, there are practical tools suggested which can be used as one navigates challenges one may encounter in daily life.

Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch

This book by Guy Winch focuses on dealing with emotional injuries: loss, failures, rejection etc. Using case examples and citing research, the author explains how emotional setbacks can impact our mental health and other aspects of our lives and provides insights on how we can heal these injuries.

Also read: What Burari death memes tell us about the state of mental health awareness in India

Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

This book focuses on organisational relationships, leadership management styles, and how to balance the head and heart and improve workplaces.

Panna Kamaljit

Counselling Psychologist, Institute For Psychological Health (IPH), Mumbai

Panna Kamaljit
Panna Kamaljit (Special Arrangement)

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

This list would be incomplete without the mention of the pioneer in this field – Daniel Goleman. This book focuses on understanding the brain and its mechanisms of logic and emotion, the art and science of balancing emotion and rationality in our relationships with people and society.

The Stress-Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity by Melanie Greenberg

The central premise is that we can all learn to rewire our brain and its emotional responses over time. Though the title focuses on the word 'stress', the same logic applies to all other negative emotions we experience.

Get Smart about Emotion: A Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence by David Walton

This one is a short, interactive book with questions and quizzes to keep the reader interested. It focuses on increasing emotional awareness, empathy and how emotional intelligence manifests in different areas of our life.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves

This book covers aspects like Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. It also comprises specific tools and strategies for enhancing emotional intelligence in all of them.

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

This book focuses on resilience and emotional flexibility in the face of challenges and uncertainties. It tells us how we tend to get stuck in repetitive patterns in a fast-paced life and how to navigate through them.

Aditi Kumar

Counselling Psychologist, Delhi

Aditi Kumar
Aditi Kumar (Special Arrangement)

Dibs In Search Of Self by Virginia Axline

This book is everything about a child who is non-verbal and labelled "trouble maker", goes through the process of play- therapy but at the same time struggles to find his comfort and safe people. It's an excellent book for both parents and self to explore our inner language, how we speak to our children, and for that matter, how we talk to ourselves.

Obsessed: A Memoir Of My Life With OCD by Allison Britz

"You have OCD, stop with your OCD" "UFF, I am feeling my OCD crop up," - this is how the obsessive-compulsive disorder is now understood as, and being used loosely to categorise a general need to be organised or rearrange things. This book encapsulates a teenager's start with symptoms, how it changed everything for her, the pain, the acceptance. It also touches on what really goes on regarding thoughts and emotions with people dealing with this disorder. It gives great insights and also increases sensitivity regarding how difficult the healing journey is.

Quiet by Susan Cain

It's about being an introvert in an extroverted world, which I think is valuable for everyone because it gives you a real insight into how people that are different from you work. So, in my opinion, that's a really important piece of being better at conversation, extending empathy when required, not overstepping boundaries— fully listening to the people with whom you are conversing and making a real attempt at understanding where they're coming from.

The Body Keeps Score by Bessel van der Kolk M.D.

It's a comprehensive book regarding how trauma seeps into our minds and thoughts and physically manifests in our bodies. It talks in-depth about post-traumatic stress disorder in an easy, comprehensive way and also demystifies it. The book also talks about the devastating repercussions to society in general due to inadequate treatment and gives insights on the large population that actually suffers from PTSD.

Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This is a great book to try and understand thought patterns, behaviours, and our "comfort" thoughts. Basically, the principle of why we do what we do has been explained beautifully in this book. The book takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery with factual findings related engagingly. It is an essential book in understanding yourself so that you can understand others too.

Also read: How Pilates is great for your mind and body

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