23 Best Emotional Intelligence Books That Will Change Your Life

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Are you new to emotional intelligence? Want to learn more about how emotional intelligence can help you or are you a seasoned therapist looking to “hone your skills,” then this list is for you.

As the inventor of Wheel Potential app an eight-time international award-winning self-help tool that tracks your average feeling, and improves your emotional intelligence. I’ve studied and read many books about thought philosophy, feelings, moods, and emotions over the last 20 years, and taught EI skills with my current and past clients.

I’m sharing twenty-three of my best book recommendations that will help you enhance your emotional intelligence skills in Health, Wealth, Love and Fulfillment.

Table of Contents

This was the first book I read in 1997 regarding emotional intelligence. Dr. Goleman studied some earlier work of Peter Salavoy and John Mayer –this is where doctor Goleman became familiar with the term emotional intelligence.

Dr. Goleman would later name his book using the words Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ book helped me understand my feelings and wellbeing.

I learned that in order to improve my own emotional intelligence I had to employ four key elements of Self Awareness-understanding my own feelings; Self-Management-managing my own feelings; Social Awareness– know how to read other people’s feelings; Social Skills– Handling other people’s feelings. A good book to have in your library.

When I started out over twenty years ago I had thought and feeling disagreement, which meant my thought and feeling didn’t agree. I had a positive thought with a negative feeling and didn’t even know it!

This would normally create conflict, and left unchecked, would give me headaches, stiff necks, and irritability. I don’t know about you, but have you ever had conflicts in your own head?

I came across Emotional Intelligence 2.0 a few months ago and I learned that in this book there are 66 skills to master over time, and Emotional Intelligence Appraisal you can take to measure your emotional intelligence.

Take the Emotional Intelligence Appraisal to give you a baseline and a head start on improving your emotional intelligence.

I know before you go off on, “Why doesn’t this book have a title of emotional intelligence in it?” Because it’s the actionable side of emotional intelligence. By employing the basic principles you are using emotional intelligence.

This book was originally published in 1936 to help people reduce worry by following the three-C’s. Don’t CriticizeDon’t Complain and Don’t Condemn. Dale Carniege used many other ideas as well such as the Golden Rule Book.

A small gold color pocket size booklet designed to fit in your pocket highlighting the major principles of daily living. Dale Carniege principles are taught and followed every day since 1936. I am a Dale Carniege graduate and a testament to the everyday principles.

These daily principles helped me form my own life coaching exercise called, “Discovering Your Four Core Values.” Can you narrow down your four core values? This book has stood the test of time and is worth reading.

Okay since our beliefs control our feelings, moods, and emotions this book speaks volumes about how personal beliefs affect business beliefs. Ari co-founded the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses over 30 years ago in 1982 with a very unique business model, which has endured the test of time.

Here’s how it works: There are fifteen businesses connected to the Zingerman’s name, however, they are all owned by individual managing partners, who buy and sell products from each other and who also sell to the community as well.

I know Ari personally and have worked with him individually while doing my internship at the Bake House owned by Frank Carollo and Amy Emberling-two managing partners. In this book, you will find the beliefs of several business owners-including Ari’s.

If you’re an entrepreneur or just want to learn about other people’s beliefs it’s a must-read.

Although this book offers a foreword from doctor Goleman it focuses on childhood emotional intelligence and how to develop it. The focus is to teach children how to navigate emotional intelligence in a social environment and at home.

First, they identified the stressor and strategize on how to handle it. A stressor is defined as something in the environment causing stress and strategy is defined by finding a way of handling the stressor.

When I was working with children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder Scale two things we focused on was distraction and redirection back to the task at hand. It was a relatively controlled environment with minimal distractions or stressors.

If you have children or about to have children this book will give you valuable insight on how to raise emotionally intelligent people.

A book I came across while looking for more material on emotional intelligence. Justin would come up with the twelve commandments of emotional intelligence.

Something very unique in the emotional intelligence world straying away from the four pillars of EI; self-awareness, self-regulation, social awareness, and social regulation.

I was intrigued by the twelve EI Commandments. Here are the first six:

  1. Thou Shalt Ponder My Feelings;
  2. Thou Shalt Learn From Others Perspectives;
  3. Thou Shalt Learn To Pause;
  4. Thou Shalt Practice Empathy;
  5. Thou Shalt Praise Others;
  6. Thou Shalt Apologize.

When I read these I was amazed at how many I was doing every day. I’m not perfect but even doing one or two a day will take your Emotional Intelligence to a whole new level. To learn what the other six are and understand what they mean read this book!

Chip and Dan Are known to virtually twist things around to identify two brains Logical and Emotional. The logical brain takes time to look at information, collect some data then make a decision. While the emotional brain is impulsive with quick reactions. So the logical brain is responsive and the emotional brain is reactive.

I tend to agree with this two brain method because we have thoughts and we have feelings both serve each other to keep one another in check. Like the Yin and Yang, they either work in harmony or against each other.

Logical part of the mind says, “If you overeat you could gain weight” while the emotional side says, “Go ahead and overeat what’s a little weight gain”

The key to balance is to find a satisfactory agreement between the logical brain and the emotional brain. I believe we all have experienced this disagreement at some point. If you want an increase in brain harmony and agreement read this book.

This book is actually a compilation of many ideas, authors and philosophies. I like the fact there are many different perspectives on the subject of EI.

In this review, I will focus on item 23 Practice Self-Compassion authored by Christopher Germer. As you recall whatever we think, do, and say begins with ourselves. What does this mean? “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

Christopher uses George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as examples. He mentions that good old George had to overcome his fiery temper before he could become a public role model. Abraham had to overcome deep feelings of sadness in order to display bravery and a calm demeanor to address others.

I’m a firm believer when you can integrate different concepts, ideas, and methodologies and link them together to create something greater than what is currently present you will change yourself and others around you.

If you want to learn more about yourself and how to improve your own EI then read this book.

I like this book because it is also about using different theories of social learning with children. As you recall Social Learning has two components Social Awareness-learning how to read other’s feelings and Social Regulation-knowing how to handle other people’s feelings.

For instance, one theory can be used to target a particular group while another can identify useful implementation strategies. For instance, the first theory selects a particular group that would receive the most benefit, in this case, age group, and the second, measure children’s outcomes to see how the program is working.

The main focus of the book is how to develop social-emotional learning (SEL) with children in grade schools. If you want to improve social skills and learn new information on how to improve SEL in schools it’s a must-read.

Originally written in 2011 this book has a unique approach to Stress Management. One question that is asked is how Flexible are you to change? Are you a blade of grass that can bend with the wind or a rigid tree that snaps like a twig when a strong wind comes along?

The one main important aspect of the theories in this book is the Emotional Intelligence Skills Assessment (EISA). EISA is designed to improve the awareness of your feelings, manage and perceive feelings, and improve your understanding of how they affect you and others.

The assessment is free if you buy the ebook. I’ve taken a similar assessment which helped me understand my feelings. If your ready to understand how your feelings are affecting you and others around you then get this book.

Is a children’s book that simplifies the use of feelings through storytelling. It also uses images to help bring the story of feelings to life. Brilliantly written with simplicity, authenticity, and genuineness to help explain what feelings are and how to express them. Each page demonstrates a few feelings represented by the color of grouped feelings.

The last two pages represent all the feelings that were previously mentioned. I love this book because it is simple, authentic and non-threatening to the reader. It speaks to me in a gentle voice with tremendous meaning.

If you have children or about to be a parent, this book is a must-read for your child every night before bedtime. Put your child on the road to learning about Emotional Intelligence early on in life. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity adults can learn a thing or two as well.

Read it here:

YouTube video

We think in either fast mode or slow mode. The fast mode is automatic, fast and reactive, and slow mode is subjective, thoughtfulness and with concentration.

For example, in the fast mode if you saw a happy face you would jump to all kinds of conclusions about why the person is happy without even confirming with the person if it’s true. The slow mode may jump to a conclusion but would go ask the person why they are smiling.

So, what does this have to do with feelings and emotional intelligence? The fast mode is usually feelings first then logic second. The reactionary phase without brakes. It begins with, “I feel…?”

Slow mode is still working but uses logic as a reserve working in the background. The cool thing I like is that we use both systems at the same time. When in fast mode the slow mode is on the back burner and while in slow mode fast mode is the back burner.

If you want to learn and understand more about how your burners are working read this book!

I like this book because it explains much about how I think and understand about distractions. If you can take yourself out of your head you would relieve yourself of feelings and thinking stress.

What are distractions made of?

How do they affect the way we think and feel?

Distractions are anything that takes our mind away from we are currently doing, and they affect us by holding distractions in our mind using up valuable mental space and mental fuel (Calories).

The ideas helped me by getting top of mind things out of my head, and either writing them down on a paper, notebook, whiteboard, flip chart, tablet or my phone helps free up space for more thinking and feeling. Do you want to free up more space in your head then read this book!

Although the title of the book puts a sour tasting lemon front and center the point is your sour tasting self-talk does! I like one of Dr. Cornwall’s method’s which is self-talk, even if you are aware of the sour talk or not.

The majority of us do use self-talk to work through specific challenges, questions or practice before a presentation. In either of these cases, it’s still self-talk.

The key is what the self-talk is saying? Does it help you move forward? Keep you stuck? To find out look at what your behavior is creating in the physical world!

Most often SOUR self-talk is unconscious and out of our awareness. This book is perfect for anyone wanting to listen to their self-talk and learn from it. Is self-sour-talking holding you back?

One of my favorites because it outlines 4 actionable steps that a person can learn to help improve their emotional intelligence. They are Elastic-capacity to regulate stress, Glue-using core feelings to communicate, Pulley-wordless communication (Body language) and The Ladder-Pleasure in interactive play (Playfulness and humor).

I lean more towards being Elastic and The Ladder because without being malleable while using humor change is very difficult? This answers the question are you teachable? or trainable?

Without humor or playfulness life is lifeless and dull! How does it make you feel when you laugh especially hearing something funny or witty?

However, I employ all four concepts at various times and degrees but focus on Elastic and The Ladder as my top two. Are you rigid or flexible? Find out by reading, learning and implementing the concepts listed in this book.

This book primarily concentrates on how to help children five years old and up to express feelings, but the applications apply to parents and teachers too.

Children are looking for their parents on what is safe and not safe and cues about how to feel and communicate with themselves and others. They are intuitive, intelligent, full of life, and ready to learn.

My heart longs to help children express what they want to express when they want to. Because the expression is not right nor wrong it just is. A child does not live in a world of absolutes, but we pigeonhole them into believing absolutes exist!

If you are a parent, going to be a parent, teacher, or in training to be a teacher this book would be a great reference tool to have on your desk or kitchen table. Use it wisely use it often!

Well believe it or not your child’s emotional intelligence training begins at home according to Dr Gottman. I tend to agree because I admit my wife and I were parent type #3 Laissez-Faire-we acknowledged and empathized our daughter’s feelings while growing up but didn’t set limits to her behavior.

Now I’m seeing the effects of it as a nineteen-year-old. I didn’t know what I know now 20 years ago. As a nineteen-year-old now, I still acknowledge and empathize with her and also ask what will she do to help the situation next time.

The other two styles are #1 Dismissing Parents– disregard, ignore or minimize negative feelings, and #2 Disapproving Parents– who are critical for showing negative feelings and use punishment and reprimand to the child.

Can you identify with one of the three types of parents you are? If so, this book would be an awesome addition to your everyday book library. Because as your emotional intelligence improves so will your child’s.

I really like this book it takes emotional intelligence and simplifies into three action steps something I work with every day. Because without action the great ideas we have remain in our heads! When I first came across this book it was easy to read and use.

The three concepts are know yourself, choose yourself and give yourself.

  1. Know yourself-This is the time to dial in and get data on yourself. We all know, just because we think we know, doesn’t mean we actually know.
  2. Choose Yourself-Now that you have data and you know it’s time to reflect first and respond to your actions.
  3. Give Yourself-Now go out with authenticity and genuineness do some actions.

If you want to learn some simple ways to help make your actions more meaningful or take the assessment, The Six Seconds Model.

Here is a book that puts things in a way that says use me! The concept that integrates feelings into thinking! What a concept! Love it! If you’re in a leadership role of any kind this is a must read!

Drop what you’re doing right now and study, learn and use the concepts, and watch your leadership skills soar!

Matter of fact, these concepts complement the six-second skills mentioned above. In this book, the four key areas are: IdentifyUseUnderstand and Manage Feelings.

View model here: Emotional Intelligence Model click on the book to the left and scroll down to model in section eleven (XI).

Nicely written, a must have a reference for human resource managers, hiring managers, headhunters or anyone else in hiring or interviewing role how to spot the emotionally intelligent candidate.

Why is it important to higher an emotionally intelligent candidate? Adaption! Is the person adaptable, trainable and is the right fit for the company? Try these three; Assess the Awareness of Feelings or Thoughts Questions:

1. Tell me about a time you were preoccupied or distracted about something?

  • How did you know?
  • What impact did that have on your performance
  • What impact did it have on others at work?

2. Tell me about a time you were in a good mood at work?

  • What impact did it have on others at work?
  • What impact did that have on your performance

3. Describe a time when you were angry at work?

  • What impact did it have on you at work?
  • What impact did it have on others at work?

How do you hire the right project team to help your mission succeed? How do you motivate and communicate ideas that are clear, concise and succinct?

Anthony says, first begin with your own emotional intelligence and transmit this to your team. The motivation and communication begin with you. The sooner you can clear questions and conflicts the sooner you can get underway with the project.

If the project is moving slowly or begins to stall try using the question method by empowering your team rather blaming them. Such as, When do you think this target will be completed? How long will it take to…? Ask the five W’s and the “H”…Who?, Where?, Why?, What?, When? and How?

This way you keep the direction on the project rather than on one individual person or persons. Remember, it’s a team effort!!

An excellent resource and a must-have for any project manager who wants their project to be completed on time with enthusiasm!

This book connects with me because, being 100% Italian it’s about connecting first, then think and then do after. When we first connect with someone we buy into what’s important to them as human beings.

Marie understands this and knows how to help companies, HR Managers and people help find their UVP-Universal Value Proposition.

Marie says the connection is more valuable than manipulation and goes a long way because it is an empathic (Using + knowing feeling with thinking). Marie goes on to explain if we can learn to be more empathic and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes first, the person, company, HR, etc. will be more likely to want to perform better.

If you are an HR Manager, Supervisor, Manager or any other leader this book is an excellent resource to have on your desk.

We Are Them And They Are Us, The Golden Rule and The Hidden Payoff. These are three of the eleven rules to follow if you want to have a successful company and personnel.

Dev elegantly drives home the message that we are all in this together just like Marie mentioned above with connection. The three main ideas that stood out to me are, We Are Them And They Are Us, The Golden Rule and The Hidden Payoff.

Number Nine: We Are Them And They Are Us– Making a connection to the world looking from the outside in.

Number Ten: The Golden Rule– Ethics and morals are easily increased within an institution when we all walk in the other person’s shoes.

Number Eleven: The Hidden Payoff– It’s true Empathy can drive growth but the ultimate payoff is people will have a greater reason to come to work.


Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. San Diego, CA: TalentSmart.

Bariso, J. (n.d.). EQ Applied: The real-world guide to emotional intelligence. S.l.: Borough Hall.

Carnegie, D. (n.d.). How to win friends & influence people ; How to stop worrying & start living: The groundbreaking best sellers complete in one volume. Hauppauge, NY: Dale Carnegie & Associates.

Caruso, R., & Salovey, P. (2004). Emotionally intelligent Manager: How to develop and use the four key emotional skills of… leadership. San Francisco, CA: Josse-Bass.

Cornwall, M. (2016). Go suck a lemon: Strategies for improving your emotional intelligence. Shelbyville, KY: Michael Cornwall.

Domitrovich, C. E., Durlak, J. A., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Handbook of social and emotional learning research and practice. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Freedman, J. (2012). At the heart of leadership: How to get results with emotional intelligence. Place of publication not identified: Six Seconds.

Goleman, D. (2010). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. London: Bloomsbury.

Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (1998). Raising an emotionally intelligent child. New York, NY: Fireside.

HBR guide to emotional intelligence. (2017). Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2013). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar: Random House US.

Kahneman, D. (2015). Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Lantieri, L. (2014). Building emotional intelligence: Practices to cultivate inner resilience in children. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.

Lynn, A. B. (2008). The EQ interview: Finding employees with high emotional intelligence. New York: AMACOM/American Management Association.

Mersino, A. C. (2013). Emotional intelligence for project managers: The people skills you need to achieve outstanding results. New York: American Management Association.

Miyashiro, M. R. (2011). The empathy factor: Your competitive advantage for personal, team, and business success. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press.

Patnaik, D., & Mortensen, P. (2011). Wired to care: How companies prosper when they create widespread empathy. Place of publication not identified: Distributed by Amazon Digital Services.

Rock, D. (2009). Your brain at work: Strategies for overcoming distraction, regaining focus, and achieving all day long. New York: Collins Business.

Salovey, P., & Sluyter, D. J. (2001). Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications. New York: BasicBooks.

Segal, J., & Jaffe, J. (2008). The language of emotional intelligence: The five essential tools for building powerful and effective relationships. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Stein, S., & Book, H. E. (2011). The EQ edge emotional intelligence and your success. Mississauga, Ont.: Jossey-Bass.

Weinzweig, A. (2016). The power of beliefs in business. Michigan: Zingerman’s Press

Witek, J., & Roussey, C. (2014). In my heart: A book of feelings. New York: Abrams Appleseed.

Editor’s note. 10 more best-selling books on emotional intelligence:

  • Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  • Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman
  • The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships by Jeanne Segal
  • The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
  • Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  • The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights by Daniel Goleman
  • The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work by Adele B. Lynn
  • Destructive emotions by 14th Dalai Lama and Daniel Goleman
  • Emotional Intelligence: For a Better Life, success at work, and happier relationships. Improve Your Social Skills, Emotional Agility and Discover Why it Can Matter More Than IQ. (EQ 2.0) by Brandon Goleman
  • Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

2 best-selling emotional intelligence books for kids:

  1. Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M. Gottman
  2. The Feelings Book by Todd Parr

5 best-selling books for emotional strength:

  1. Inner Strength: Harnessing the Power of Your Six Primal Needs by Tony Robbins
  2. Shake it Off! Build Emotional Strength for Daily Happiness by Rafael Santandreu
  3. Your Inner Will: Finding Personal Strength in Critical Times by Piero Ferrucci
  4. Patience: A Little Book of Inner Strength by Eknath Easwaran
  5. The Strong Mind: The Art of Building the Inner Strength to Overcome Life’s Difficulties by Ryuho Okawa

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Website: B-posi+ive

As a Counselor-Advanced Life Coach, Giuseppe has helped 1,000's people over the last 30 years with career change, health and wellness, relationships, New Year's resolution, habit change, anxiety, and stress relief.

Giuseppe is a Counselor-Advanced Life Coach, level one CBT therapist with the Feeling Good Institute, and the inventor of the life-changing mind-body-sync B-posi+ive app.

He is also the author of Mind, Body and Inner-self and Secrets of a Trim Mind.