Emotional Intelligence, a new book series published by the Harvard Business Review Press, provides essential reading on the human side of professional life. Collecting the best articles and essays from the renowned Harvard Business Review magazine, each of the series' four paperback volumes focuses on a different aspect of tending to emotional well-being at work. Contributing to the series are giants in the field of workplace behavior like Daniel Goleman, Teresa M. Amabile and Jack Zenger among many others.

"Emotional Intelligence" offers research detailing how our emotions impact our professional lives and gives practical advice for managing ourselves, difficult people and challenging situations. Insights drawn from the series will make business leaders more productive by enabling them to better manage their own workplace emotions and to understand the complex emotions of their colleagues.

This series of articles will examine each volume individually, starting with Empathy and Mindfulness and following up next time with Happiness and Resilience.


In the volume's first article, "What Is Empathy?" psychologist and author of the 1995 bestseller "Emotional Intelligence" Daniel Goleman explains that empathy is the all-important ability to understand the emotions of others. That's not to say that empathizing is about agreeing with others — it's about having insight into the emotions that drive their opinions. As a leadership trait, empathy can't be beat. Goleman says the best leaders use empathy to influence others: Empathic leaders "are the ones who find common ground, whose opinions carry the most weight, and with whom people want to work."

In "What Great Listeners Actually Do," CEO and author Jack Zenger offers best practices on how to listen in an empathic way. True listening is much more than the passive intake of information. According to Zenger, "good listeners are like trampolines. You can bounce ideas off them, and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking."

Other articles in the Empathy volume explain why leaders often become less empathic as they rise in the organization (and how to counteract this), how organizations can use empathy to design better products and services for customers and what the limits of empathy may be.


This is a fun and fascinating volume focusing on how leaders and professionals can use mindfulness practices like meditation to slow down, de-stress, make wiser decisions and better understand themselves and others. Maria Gonzalez's "Mindfulness for People Who Are Too Busy to Meditate" offers a number of practical tips for slowing your mind in even the most stressful workplace scenarios. She recommends "micro-meditations," which allow you to take quiet moments to focus on your breathing and put your mind back in balance.

Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer explains how to use meditation as a form of self-management to better focus your mind on your goals. When you're mindful, Langer says, "you're more creative. You're able to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves ... You like people better, and they like you better." Articles in this volume describe in detail how to meditate and why it's a great productivity tool, explaining the many scientifically supported benefits of meditation.

While some of the articles in these two volumes are better than others, many are terrific resources for enhancing your own productivity and well-being. They're also thoroughly researched, so the insights offered are based on scientific data, not just personal anecdotes. The essays' generous footnotes are rife with resources, so you can dive even deeper into topics that grab you. All this makes the "Emotional Intelligence" series great for improving work performance.

Read about "Emotional Intelligence" Series Volumes 3 & 4 here.

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Tags: Employee Well-Being Productivity