Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Tips I got from Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

I want to share tips I got from reading Emotional Intelligence 2.0 to help me learn and you to see if you can gain insight from my learnings. I will present my thinking of the tips that stuck to me the most and thoughts why they work.

I hope you learn from my learning and maybe see if Emotional Intelligence 2.0 could be a useful book for you. This article would take you about six minutes to read.


Emotional Intelligence is a short book, less than 400 pages, but full of practical advice. I am weary of books that are short on content but also of books too long, which tend to repeat.

Emotional Intelligence feels like a book I can revisit to continuously improve. I listened and read this book, so that’s how serious I took learning its content. A rare instance for me!

Take the Test!

The great thing about the book is that there’s a test when you buy it, even the Audible version. Ideally, take the test before reading the book just so you can gauge where you are in terms of your current level. Read the book, practice exercises suggested by the test and any that stand out to you, and re-take the test to see how you have improved.

The following are tips that popped out to me from the book that I felt are helping me understand emotions.

Physically Feel the Emotion

I always felt I was “aware” of myself, but when I read this tip, “physically feel the emotion” sounds simple, and yet, elusive.

Emotions come from the limbic part of the brain, after triggered by sensations from the spinal cord. Rationality is in the frontal cortex, at the end of the path.

Sensation Pathway in the Brain

source: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 Bradberry, Travis and Greaves, Jean 9780974320625 p.34

As emotions come though after physical stimulations, so emotions can be connect with physical sensations associated at the same time.

So, when I have an emotion, or I know I’m not my normal self, instead of acting or reacting, sit back and let any of the physical aspects of the emotion to pass through and I notice them.

Don’t let a Bad emotion fool you

I always wanted to “not feel bad”, so whenever I felt bad, I would do whatever I can to get rid of the emotion. I want to get rid of this emotion quickly.

After reading through this tip and understanding that we are emotional creatures that think, not the other way around. I see “feeling bad” is part of the bigger feedback system that’s developed for us.

So, if we are feeling bad, there’s a reason for it, the key take away: don’t let feeling bad (or the desire to not feel bad) consume you. Feeling bad is an instinctual response and it is there to give you feedback. Just let that be. The bad feeling will pass and one does not have to spend all their effort to get rid of the feeling. Embrace and learn from it.

Don’t let a Good emotion fool you either

Just like the Bad Emotion, a good emotion is also just an emotion. Trying to ‘feel good’ all the time is a fool’s errand as the emotion to feel good is just that: an emotion, which will pass and come again.

Make an Emotion Journal

This is simple: take time each day to write down your emotions experienced through the day.

Writing down my emotions has given me a deeper understanding of what’s an emotion and the situations that happen in them.

I have been recording my emotions the past weeks and I have noticed I am able to maintain a steadier state when I would be in a highly emotional situation.

I record my emotional entries in the following format:

  Description Example
Title Overall though of moment Hearing rustling in the kitchen
Situation Specific time, place, environment me, alone, dark, working on computer - then hearing rustling sounds coming from the kitchen
Physical Sensations Sensations I noticed along side emotion heart racing, blood pumping hard to my brain, hearing focused, fingers tingling
Emotion Description of what I was feeling internally scared, alert, ready to fight, guessing, anticipating

I included physical sensation from the physical sensation tip as another marker to confirm the emotion, or at least recognize patterns to previous emotions, or have myself sit down and relive the emotion, separating the emotion from the action I took.

Breathe Right

This also appeared in another course I listened to recently. How does breathing relate to emotion? After learning that breathing well has improvements beyond emotions, I am rethinking how I breathe.

Breathing is the only thing when not done for over two minutes can severely deteriorate your well-being.

Seeing this in two different courses is making me work on this harder.

Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene

Not the first time this has caught my attention. In another guide, having good sleep improved health and longevity. This is not a coincidence!

I am trying to revamp my sleeping strategy now. Trying to get a solid eight hours a night, even with my son, who is an early riser. I have given up activities to focus on sleep. Less is more!

Practice the Art of Listening

This tip surprised me because I felt I was a good listener already. I presented a paper in university on listening. I already have all the key points: I would be quiet, pay attention, summarize and give feedback in the form of a response or acknowledgment.

Notice anything missing?

I don’t, but in Emotional Intelligence, it gave a tip for an additional step:

Wait until the speaker stops speaking.

Doing this recently, I notice I never really listened before, I always formulated answers in my head and/or guessed what the speaker was going to say and kind of interrupt them before they could finish.

Now, I just shut up.

I let the person speak until they stop and I count to seven in my head and if I reach seven, I respond.

I also don’t even write in my notebook, I just want to focus on listening to them instead of trying to “write and listen” at the same time.

This was something I always thought I was doing, but now I know, I was not doing it at all.

Step into their Shoes

This one is important to me because it solves for the situation of:

I wish I knew you felt this way earlier.

I want to solve problems while they are small, because solving small problems are easy; solving big problems are hard. I prefer easy over hard. So, by knowing how they would feel before I ask them, I can keep relationship problems small.

The book mentioned the way to practice this exercise is using your personal history of the person of the shoes you’re stepping into. Using this knowledge answer:

If I were person, I would do this.

Verify your answer by approaching them afterwards and asking them their thoughts.

Practice this with different people to hone your skill and build up your mental model of that person.

Social Awareness Tip: Catch the Mood of the Room

The tip to understand the mood of the room was interesting. There two approaches:

  1. Go with your gut
  2. Bring a guide

Each of these are different.

Go with your gut

When entering a room, feel what does your gut say.

If it’s saying nothing, try to answer these questions:

  1. How are people grouped together?
  2. How animated are people when talking?

High energy is contagious and you can feel it in the room. When there is high energy, there are more groups and people move more.

When the room is low energy, it’s harder to feel, there are fewer groups of people and people that are speaking are not animated.

A comparison I think of is imagine the difference between a wedding and a funeral. Both are formal functions focused on an individual(s) that involve loved ones.

  • How do you imagine groups of people at the event?
  • How animated are different groups of people can you imagine?


Emotional Intelligence is a short book, but its exercises have taught me about emotions not through reading its content on emotion, but on its exercises to learn about emotions.

If you want to learn about emotions, I recommend this book along with the test to understand where you are in your current emotional intelligence level. From there, you can set goals to understand where to improve your emotional understanding.