I was not sure what to expect when I started to read this book. The second author is a psychiatrist and an organizational consultant. The first author, Steven Stein is a psychologist, but also well known for heading up a very successful test publishing company. Was the book going to be an advertisement for his tests? Would his success as a businessperson enhance the credibility of the message?
The book was very easy to get into. The writing is engaging. It starts with a brief history and definition of emotional intelligence (something Goleman avoids in his first book on the subject). It focuses on Reuven BarOn's definition but also includes Peter Salovey and John Mayer's definition - the originators of the concept.
The book, to my pleasant surprise, does not focus on the test (Emotional Quotient Inventory -EQ-i), but on how to gauge yourself (using exercises provided in the book) and work on improving yourself in the 15 specific areas of emotional intelligence. For the most part the exercises are taken from well-validated methods of cognitive-behavior therapy. As a psychologist I have no problem recommending this book to clients. In fact, there is more data behind this approach than what is proposed in many of the "best-selling" books out there. (For the academically oriented professional, please read the EQ-i test manual.)
Most interesting to me were some of the studies in the last chapter. It is very unusual for self-help books, and books on emotional intelligence to include original research on the importance of the concept. This makes the book great for those people you know who doubt the importance of E.I. To see how E.I. has made a difference to the U.S. Air Force, and companies like American Express and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is impressive.
I've actually reviewed the research on the EQ-i, the test that much of the research is based on. The normative group is bigger and better than many tests in the marketplace: almost 42,000 people in 36 countries. There are also some good scientific publications on it. While there is no "perfect" test of E.I., I haven't found anything that even comes close to this one. In fact, I've come across many tests being used by companies that don't even come close to having the research that this one has. But the book is not about the test. You can't even get the test unless you are a psychologist or qualified management consultant or vocational counsellor.
Was the book an advertisement? Not really. The examples, which are very realistic, cover work and home situations.