Professional Development

Unlock Your Potential: Top 5 Best Books on Emotional Intelligence for Personal and Professional Growth

Let’s be honest – being book-smart isn’t enough these days. Only about 36% of people have solid emotional intelligence (EQ) skills needed to truly excel. If you want to level up your career and relationships, developing your EQ is a must.

These 5 best books on emotional intelligence. From connecting deeper to leading better, this reading list is step one to unlocking your full potential through emotional intelligence.

5 Best Books on Emotional Intelligence

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman
  2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
  3. Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown
  4. Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett
  5. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence

1. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Golema


Talk about a mind-blowing wake-up call! This groundbreaking 1995 bestseller by Daniel Goleman was the OG book that kicked off the massive emotional intelligence movement. Dropping truth bomb after truth bomb, Goleman basically shattered the long-held notion that IQ alone is the key predictor of success. As USA Today raved, it’s

“a thoughtfully written, persuasive account explaining emotional intelligence and why it can be crucial.”

Instead, he posits that your emotional quotient (EQ) – mastering skills like self-awareness, empathy, motivation and social savviness – is the real secret sauce. Through compelling research from psychology and neuroscience, Goleman builds an ironclad case that people who’ve got high EQ absolutely run circles around their brainiac-but-emotionally-stunted counterparts.

He brings his premise to life with fascinating real-world examples across industries, from the executive who saved a derailing company to the revered school principal cultivating outstanding student performance. You’ll be captivated learning about the science of human connection and emotion regulation.

While the supporting science is a tad dated now, the book’s core philosophies have stood the test of time. Goleman provides tangible steps for hacking your own EQ – a mindset shift that genuinely helps you start showing up better in ALL areas of life. From nurturing deeper relationships to skyrocketing your leadership potential, this book makes an air-tight argument that emotional intelligence isn’t just a “nice-to-have” skill. It’s THE skill that’ll grant you an unfair advantage, no matter your goals.

If you only read one book on cultivating emotional intelligence, make it this seminal work. It’ll revolutionize how you view human behavior, interaction, and success. Just get ready for your perception to be forever disrupted in the most eye-opening way!

Read More: 15 Best Books on Work Ethic Everyone Should Read

2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves


Consider this the modern follow-up to the emotional intelligence bible that started it all. In their research-backed hit, expert leadership coaches Bradberry and Greaves take Daniel Goleman’s revolutionary EQ principles and bring them firmly into the 21st century.

Don’t be fooled by the self-help-esque title – this book is the real deal for unlocking the tangible strategies to level up your “people skills” in a big way. The authors break down exactly what’s happening in your brain physiologically when your emotions run haywire, and more importantly, how to hack your neurological processes to cultivate self-control.

You’ll get access to the authors’ proven, field-tested methods for developing hardcore self-awareness around your emotional patterns and triggers. The book is packed with personalized tips for channeling your EQ strengths while providing no-nonsense ways to improve shortcomings. There are even online self-assessments to pinpoint your current EQ capabilities.

One of the biggest pluses is how relatable and applicable the advice is for all areas of work and life. You’ll learn techniques for sailing through anxiety storms, getting rid of toxic thought patterns, and becoming a great communicator that connects with anyone. The real-world examples and step-by-step guides make the lessons incredibly digestible.

While the original Emotional Intelligence text started the conversation, this book is your modern practical blueprint for mastering the emotional skills that’ll skyrocket your relationships, leadership potential, decision-making, and overall satisfaction. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to future-proof their irreplaceable human advantages in our increasingly AI-driven world.

Read More: 10 Self-Help Books That Actually Help Improve Your Life and Career

3. Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown


Leave it to Brené Brown to take the power of emotional intelligence and distill it into the most practical, relatable guide to understanding ourselves and others. This midcareer masterpiece solidifies Brown’s status as one of the reigning queens of getting emotionally naked in the name of wholehearted living.

With her trademark blend of warmth and no-BS wisdom, Brown walks you through an incredibly rich lexicon for the kaleidoscope of human emotions and experiences we all encounter. You’ll dive deep into clarifying definitions for feeling states ranging from whimsical (“transvoyance”) to soul-crushing (“secondhand-dread”) as you become emotionally fluent.

But Atlas of the Heart is so much more than just a vocabulary lesson. Each insightful entry provides both heartening narratives and empirical research that’ll hit you right in the feels while leveling up your EQ abilities. Brown imparts game-changing mindset reframes for embodying self-management, building resilience, and forging way more meaningful bonds.

Whether she’s unpacking the difference between empathy and pity, exploring the nomadic power of curiosity, or showing you how to honor your authentic self, every page reveals a way for living a far more emotionally intelligent, wholehearted life. You’ll be forever reflecting on these lessons for cultivating self-awareness, emotional regulation, and connections that genuinely matter.

Most importantly, this book is an absolute masterclass in the language of emotional intelligence from one of the leading voices in vulnerability and wholehearted living. With profound empathy and relatable realness, Brown provides a transformative emotional education like no other.

Read More: Top 5 Best Books to Improve Your Communication Skills: Master the Art of Interaction

4. Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett


Feeling emotionally constipated? Like you’ve been holding in a ton of heavy feelings out of some misguided fear or shame? Marc Brackett’s Permission to Feel might just be the emotional laxative you need.

As the director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Brackett is one of the pioneers evangelizing why emotional literacy deserves a place among the best books on emotional intelligence (EI). His central thesis? Giving yourself and others permission to get real about emotions is the ultimate EQ superpower.

Through a blend of hard science, narratives from his work in schools, and personal anecdotes, Brackett makes a persuasive case that bottling up emotions actively makes us miserable. But more importantly, he maps out a practical guide for cultivating emotional mastery so we can thrive.

You’ll pick up tons of tips for strengthening emotional self-awareness, channeling emotions productively, and building resilience – no more avoidance or lashing out. The examples and exercises around emotional agility feel refreshingly doable rather than too woo-woo.

Whether you’re a parent craving more emotionally intelligent kids, a leader wanting higher EI in your organization for better relationship management, or simply someone seeking self-awareness, this book delivers a powerful framework. It’s the ultimate “primal leadership” playbook for letting ourselves feel without judgment so we can connect more authentically.

For anyone looking to get unstuck emotionally and unlock their full human potential, Permission to Feel needs to be on your reading list. It’s an indispensable addition to the Harvard Business canon of essential emotional intelligence literature.

“I cannot recommend Permission to Feel enough… Practical, tactical, actionable. My favorite kind of book. I just loved it!” – Brené Brown

5. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Emotional Intelligence


When it comes to mastering the “soft” skills of emotional intelligence, who better to turn to than the brilliant minds at Harvard Business Review? This concentrated compendium brings together 10 of HBR’s most insightful and influential articles exploring the irreplaceable powers of EQ.

If you’re looking for the CliffsNotes on emotional intelligence from the experts who quite literally wrote the book(s) on it, this handpicked collection has you covered. You’ll gain a rapid immersion into the neuroscience of human behavior and the X-factors separating so-so leaders from emotionally intelligent ones who cultivate cohesive, high-achieving teams.

The editors provide a “greatest hits” of landmark pieces that redefined how we view success. You’ll get a refresher on EQ pioneers like Daniel Goleman, as well as pearls of wisdom from leadership authorities like Robert Sutton and Gemma D’Auria. Whether it’s deep-diving into self-awareness, navigating emotional labor, or building a critical leadership skill like empathy or relationship management, these page-turners break things down in HBR’s trademark smart, practical, and applicable way.

While it’s not quite the exhaustive emotional intelligence bible, this curated roundup is perfect for a crash course on-the-go. It’s packed with evidence-based frameworks and hard-hitting case studies that clearly illustrate the unparalleled power of EQ in action across all industries and environments.

For time-strapped managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders craving a potent EQ primer from the brightest business minds around, these must-read literary utensils have all the ingredients to cook up unprecedented self-mastery and people skills. Keep this book handy for an anytime emotional intelligence booster shot!


There you have it – the best books on emotional intelligence. The heavy-hitting books that’ll level up your emotional intelligence from every angle. You’ve got Goleman’s seminal work that launched the entire EQ revolution, Bradberry and Greaves’ practical modern blueprint, and Brown’s whip-smart atlas for fluency in the language of emotions.

Brackett provides your soul’s “permission to feel” while HBR’s greatest hits celebrate EQ as the cornerstone of phenomenal leadership. These five essentials contain all the wisdom you need to start truly mastering emotional skills – the unbeatable edge for wholehearted living and achieving your grandest ambitions.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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