Emotional Intelligence 2.0: Summary & Review

emotional intelligence 2.0 book cover

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 discusses the role of emotional intelligence in life and career success.
Bradberry generally aligns with Goleman who initially said that emotional intelligence is a major predictor of career success.
While we don’t disagree with that, we believe that power intelligence is an even better predictor.

Bullet Summary

  • EQ is more important than IQ in life success
  • We are all wired to feel emotions first and logic second: you can’t cut out emotions from good decision making
  • Higher EQ will make for a happier and more fulfilling life

Full Summary

About The Author: Travis Bradberry is an author, business consultant, and entrepreneur. His consultancy provides businesses with emotional intelligence tests and training.

Note About The Test: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 comes with a test. But you need to purchase the book to get the code.

Emotions Control Us

Travis Bradberry says that unless we take deliberate steps to prevent it, we are hard-wired for emotions to control us.

That’s simply human nature, it comes with the territory of how our brain is structured.
Everything coming from our senses indeed travels to the brain through the limbic system -where emotions are produced- before reaching the prefrontal cortex -where our rational thinking takes place-.

That means that emotions happen first, and our brains cannot stop them from forming.

EQ Lies At The Intersection of Rational and Emotional

It’s the communication between the emotional part of our brain and the rational part of our brain that will determine our level of emotional intelligence.

So what does constitute emotional intelligence?

Says Tradberries:

What constitutes emotional intelligence is a good understanding of the emotional side of our brain from the rational side of the brain. Coupled with the ability to either delay action or take action as needed, in spite of the emotions.

EI Outperforms IQ

Daniel Goleman said it already in Emotional Intelligence: IQ does not fully explain the level of success people experience in life.

And after years of research, the author states, emotional intelligence (EQ) emerged as the critical factor to explain and account for success.

And it’s so critical that each one-point increase in EQ leads to an increase of 1.300 dollars in annual salary.

My Note:
This is one of those statistics I would have liked to see fleshed out a bit more in-depth because like that it means little.
See the criticism section for more.

There Are Only 5 Types of Emotions

Travis Bradberry says that of all the people they tested, two-thirds cannot accurately identify their own emotions.

He says that part of the reason is that we have too many words and labels for emotions.
But at the core, there are only 5 of them:

  1. happiness
  2. sadness
  3. anger
  4. fear
  5. shame

IQ Does Not Correlate With EQ

Emotional intelligence leverages your ability to recognize and understand emotions, in yourself and others, to manage your behavior and your relationships.

I was surprised to read the author say there is no connection between IQ and EQ as that’s the opposite of what Daniel Goleman says.

You Can Grow EQ

Contrary to IQ, you can learn and grow your EQ.


Travis Bradberry says that IQ, EQ, and personality are what make up individuals.
Personality traits such as introversion and extroversion. And he says that EQ is the only one you can change and grow.

My Note: 
I disagree here. People can change personalities. I have changed my personality quite a bit

The Four Realms of Emotional Intelligence

There are four emotions that form a quadrant and aggregate along two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

Personal competence means being aware of your emotions and managing your behavior.

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management

Social competence is the awareness of other people’s feelings, moods, and behavior in order to improve the quality of your relationships.

  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management skills

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to perceive and understand own emotions.

Just thinking and knowing about self-awareness increases it.
It makes for a much happier and more fulfilling life because people who can define themselves well know their strengths and can better pick something that interests them, motivates them, and allows them to leverage their strengths.

2. Self-Management

Self-management builds upon self-awareness and it’s your ability to self-control and direct your behavior positively.
Of course, it’s about the most obvious “resisting” rage and strong emotions, but it’s also about keeping an even emotional keel and persevering.

In my opinion, this is where success lies, as Grit by Angela Duckworth shows the ability to stick with things over the long run, even when we don’t feel like it, is one of the keystones to success.

3. Social-Awareness

This is a bit the equivalent of self-awareness but directed toward others. It’s your ability to feel and understand other people’s emotions and moods.

4. Relationship Management

It builds on and leverages social awareness to manage social interactions successfully.

CEOs are Low on EQ

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 measures half a million senior executives and employees (albeit on Forbes he says they were 100.000, which is which?).
It turns out that middle managers are the highest in EQ and CEOs score the lowest.

This is my chart replicating Bradberry’s numbers:

emotional intelligence chart showing EQ does not matter

EQ and Leadership

The authors say that EQ skills are more important to job performance than any other leadership skill.
This is one of the points I highlight in The Godfather’s lack of EQ.

People high in EQ also make better decisions because paying attention to our emotions is the best way to doing the most logical decision.

The most logical decision making pays attention to emotions

The Variables That Influence EQ

There are several variables that influence EQ, including:

  • Age

Self-management skills rise with age, but a conscious effort can cut that time short.

  • Culture (China Beats US)

Chinese executives had higher EQ than their American counterparts, probably because of cultural reasons.

  • Gender

Women score higher in EQ in general, and specifically in social awareness.

emotional intelligence 2.0 book cover

Real-Life Applications

These are my main takeaways from “Social Intelligence 2.0”:

  • Manage Your Self-Talk

Negative self-talk damages your ability to manage your own state and allows for negative emotions to take over.

To eradicate negative self-talk:

  1. Ban words such as “always” and “never”
  2. Replace negative self-talk such as “why am I so stupid” with more factual ones such as “this was a mistake”
  3. Accept responsibility
  4. Look at your mistake as an opportunity to learn something
  5. Use this mistake never to make the same mistake again (the mistake becomes a principle, in Ray Dalio’s words)

Also, read:


I really enjoyed Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
Yet, there were many important points that didn’t convince me at all:

CEOs Are Low on EQ – Wait, What??? Whole Theory Debunked!

In the author’s own data CEOs are the lowest on EQ.

That should throw a monkey’s wrench into the whole theory that EQ is the most important determinant of life’s success.

Yet the author explains it away blaming the system (!). In their Harvard Business Review article, they say that companies are still promoting bosses based on knowledge and length of service.
The author’s message is that “CEOs should do better since EQ is important for job performance”.

Of course, the author is heavily biased because of the training he provides. And, in my opinion, it shows here.

Also, read:

No Mention of Criticism

There is a hot debate in the psychology world on whether or not emotional intelligence is even a psychological trait.

For once, not everyone agrees it can be measured. Jordan Peterson, author of 12 Rules for Life has been a highly vocal critic. Others make claim it does exist, but it does not predict success in life.

Some Big Claims Without References

The authors say that EQ accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs.

Wow, now that’s a statistic that makes little sense to me.
How on earth is that supposed to be even useful when there are jobs that are all about people and some that have very little to do with people?

Also, based on what do they say it? As a critical reader, I want to know, and there was no reference to back up that claim.

Extrapolation Bias Mistakes

The authors make huge generalizations after analyzing just 4 years of data.

In my opinion, this could be a typical fooled by randomness case. We see a trend and believe it’s significant and consistent and it will keep growing over time.
Often, that’s not the case (also read Thinking Fast and Slow).

Intuitive Predictions

The authors make a lot of “intuitive theories”.
Such as, in front of a lack of data, they come up with their own explanation.

For example, when they saw a dip in the EQ results in 2008 they say it was connected to the crisis.
And that could be, but… How can they be sure?

Even worse, they see men “catching up” to women and they say it’s because now men are encouraged to entertain their feelings. Wait, and they say that based on a 4 years time span?

Emotional Intelligence Test Not Open

You can only take the test of emotional intelligence if you get the key from the book.
In my very personal opinion, that’s not a good move. Not even from a marketing perspective.


It Will Help You Lead A More Fulfilling Life 
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 can help increase awareness of social skills and emotional competence.
For many people who still believe “emotions are for the weak”, this can serve to show that no, emotional competence and social skills serve to lead a more fulfilling, happier, and even more successful life.

Some Good Tips
First of all, the message that EQ can be improved is a highly empowering one. And there are some good tips to do just that.
I’d like to add another: watching the YouTube videos on my channel can help you start seeing the social patterns.


First of all, I’d like to tackle the biggest issue with Emotional Intelligence 2.0:

The CEO Conundrum

The data from the author themselves shows that CEOs are very low on EQ.

The author explains it away saying they are not doing a good job. However, they never wonder if being too high in EQ can be a drawback and it’s the CEO role that requires a more decisive approach.

That could happen, for example, if their EQ tests was assigning too high points to high agreeableness, which can be a drawback for leadership positions.
But the authors never ask themselves that.

Overall, this is my opinion: EQ will improve your life. But if EQ means being very agreeable and caring too much about how others will feel, then you must know when to put EQ aside to make the hard decisions, no matter who is unhappy about it.
The authors never say that EQ means becoming paralyzed by emotions and others’ feelings, but in my opinion, their EQ tests score high for people high in agreeableness, which leads to a lack of strong decision-making capabilities.

Final Thoughts

I don’t think “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” does a great job of outlining the current state of scientific research.

I think it can actually muddle the water for most people who want to understand emotional intelligence, life success, and the impact of emotional intelligence on success (and relationships).

It can still be useful in a few ways though, such as in pushing people to listen more to their own emotions.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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