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Published on November 26, 2018

13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships

13 Best Communication Books for Stronger Social Skills & Relationships

If you are having trouble communicating with your family and friends, you are not alone. Communications, whether it is written or oral, is one of the most complicated and feared skills.

Regardless of how powerful or smart some people may appear, many harbor insecurities around how they write or how they communicate in front of other. But effective communications skills is a must for the individual and the company. In fact, companies are better positioned to thrive when they have a clear message and communications strategy that outlines who they are in the world, what they want to be known for and what sets them apart. And executives who can move others to action with their words are beloved.

Often when we think of skills, we focus on hard skills. But being able to communicate well is one of the most important soft skills you can develop and it is also a key determinant to success. Think of your doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, sitter, or your child’s teacher. Your relationship with these individuals, and your confidence in them, is influenced by how well they communicate.

Arguably, communications can make or break the company or the leader. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources to help you improve in this area. A host of communications books focus on everything from how you write, how you speak, how you communicate with your family and friends, and how you use communications to advocate for issues important to you.

The books are impactful whether you are a born communicator, or whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. They will help whether you are struggling to find and assert your voice in personal or professional relationships or whether you are struggling to maintain appropriate boundaries at work and home. I have broken the list up into books that are especially centered around communicating at work, and books that apply to your communications and social skills at work and at home.

Books on Communicating at Work

1. Never Eat Alone

    Never Eat Alone is one of my favorite books. Author Keith Ferrazi highlights the importance of cultivating mutually beneficial relationships and makes a strong case for how those relationships can propel one to extraordinary success.

    For someone like me, who is part introvert and part extrovert, the book is a reminder to be intentional in building relationships. It is easy to rely on the people with whom I already have a relationship but expanding one’s circle is not only a good idea, it’s essential to career and professional growth.

    What I love most about the book, is Ferrazi not only tells you what to do, he walks readers through “how to do it.” There are several practical tips for cultivating relationships and powerful anecdotes on how doing so can change one’s life.

    Get the book here!

    2. On Becoming Fearless

      Ariana Huffington’s “On Becoming Fearless” was also transformative. She covers everything from becoming fearless in the workplace to passionately pursuing one’s personal calling.

      The truth is fear is a common reality for many of our lives. We allow fear to keep us from reaching for our dreams, keep us from speaking our truth, or remain in unhealthy situations.

      Drawing from her own experiences, Huffington walks readers through strategies for confronting and overcoming fear.

      Get the book here!

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      3. Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide

        If you are interested in learning strategies for promoting your work and ideas, my own book is an excellent resource.

        The book highlights case studies from actual social justice campaigns and the strategies me and my team used to place important issues on reporters’ radars. The book also focuses on how to cultivate relationships with reporters, who can have an outsize impact on how the world, including your audience, views you and your work.

        Get the book here!

        4. How to Win Friends and Influence People

          Written in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is a timeless treasure. It is one of the best selling books ever.

          The book focuses on strategies for creating and maintaining powerful relationships. This is key because your success is directly tied to the relationships you cultivate and the power of those relationships.

          He discusses principles such as appealing to what is in your colleague’s interest rather than focusing narrowly on your own self-interest, the importance of memorizing the names of others, and the lost art of listening.

          Carnegie focuses on the power of being genuinely interested in other people, which is critical. The book is a reminder that people will accept your advice, act on your recommendations if they like you and IF they believe you like them. They will not follow you based solely on your leadership position or your rank in an organization.

          There are so many communications gems in this book, that it deserves an article unto itself. Suffice it to say, this is a book you should buy yesterday. It is seriously that good.

          Get the book here!

          5. Words that Work

            Frank Luntz’s “Words that Work” is the last book I’ve read on communications. It is juicy. Luntz brilliantly describes that people hear what you say through the lens of their own experience.

            Communication is less about what you say, and more about what people hear. It is therefore important to focus on what people are likely to hear to sidestep saying the wrong thing or having your message misconstrued. This is why certain words are deeply triggering for certain communities.

            Once you use triggering or loaded words, nothing else you say matters. Your audience will get stuck and miss your entire message.

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            Again, this book is a must read for all people who value communications and whose job depends on communicating well.

            Get the book here!

            6. Crucial Conversations

              I am learning that we live in a society where telling the truth, especially unsolicited truth, is not always welcome. In fact, it takes tremendous courage to be direct and tell the truth.

              In my profession, I routinely am asked to give feedback when people I work with have media interviews. A person’s ability to improve, with the media or otherwise, is directly correlated to the coaching and feedback they receive, but that doesn’t necessarily make telling the truth easier.

              When commentators, reporters or even political leaders tell the truth as they see it, they sometimes face harsh criticism. However, no relationship works without each party having the freedom and the space to tell the truth in love.

              “Crucial Conversations” is a road map to having difficult but necessary conversations in the workplace and at home. If you are seeking to improve your social skills or communicate unpleasant information, “Crucial Conversations” is a must-read. The fact is most of us are coached not to tell the truth, so training in this area is beneficial.

              Get the book here!

              7. Leadership Presence

                “Leadership Presence” by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar is a gem. I was introduced to this book during an executive coaching session 10 years ago. I was struggling with how to develop gravitas and how to communicate while having force of presence.

                This was one of the books my coach, Sheryl Phillips, recommended. What I appreciated most about this book is the importance of nonverbals in communication and the strategies it offers to develop leadership presence.

                Get the book here!

                Books on Communicating at Home

                8. The Power of Now

                  Eckart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” was transformative. He outlines how to remain present with one’s thoughts and present situations.

                  There have been many times when I have reacted to things that happened in the past or things that could possibly happen in the future. Such ruminations are a major contributor to internal suffering. They also inhibit us from being fully present in the lives of our family and friends.

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                  For this reason, I strongly recommend the age-old and evergreen, The Power of Now.

                  Get the book here!

                  9. Five Love Languages

                    We are all created in the image of God. We express our love and God’s image differently.

                    In Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages,” Chapman explores the importance of understanding not only our own love language, but our family and friends’ love language as well. The book identifies the five love languages as “words of affirmation,” “acts of service,” “receiving gifts,” “quality time,” and “physical touch.”

                    For instance, my love language is two-fold, “quality time” and “acts of service.” If a person wants to communicate their love for me, they should both spend time with me and perform acts of service. My sister on the other hand values time. She is giddy when I invest time with her and her family. When I have attempted to offer gifts in lieu of time, our relationship suffered. The best way for me to express love to her is to offer uninterrupted time. That means time when I am not doing other things such as playing on my cell phone, working or otherwise being physically present but mentally occupied.

                    You cannot have a healthy relationship at work or home without understanding what the people around you need to feel valued and respected. For this reason, I strongly recommend The Five Love Languages.

                    Get the book here!

                    10. Boundaries

                      Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Boundaries” is a timeless relationship book. It is essential because boundaries inform people how they should and should not behave in your life.

                      For persons who have suffered childhood abuse, it can be difficult to establish or know when one’s boundaries have been violated. However, you cannot have a healthy relationship without creating guardrails that keep you safe and inform people how they can show up in your life.

                      Often, anger is an indication that a boundary has been violated. When I have peeled back the onion, I sometimes realize that I was not clear with boundaries.

                      Get the book here!

                      11. The Four Agreements

                        Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” is a must-read for everyone seeking enlightenment and restoration in relationships. It is also essential for persons seeking to end personal suffering caused by endless rumination.

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                        In sum, the four agreements, are to 1. Take nothing personally, 2. be impeccable with your word, 3. don’t make assumptions and 4. always do your best. In addition to the book, the teachings are also available in a compact card deck which offers daily reflections.

                        Get the book here!

                        Books on Written Communication

                        12. On Writing

                          Since I’m a professional communicator, I don’t think it’s possible to write an article on communications and social skills without discussing writing.

                          Regardless of what you do, or who you are, at some point you will need to put ideas and thoughts to paper. From standard office correspondence, to long-form essays, to business documents, and reports, you are bound to write.

                          One of the most inspiring and helpful books on writing I’ve ever read is Stephen King’s “On Writing.” He covers everything from the mechanics of writing to his personal journey with the written word. The book is humorous, easy to digest and inspiring.

                          Get the book here!

                          13. Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life

                            Bell Hooks is one of the most prolific writers of all times. Like Stephen King, she produces full manuscripts the way many of us communicate via text message – nonstop. “Wounds of Passion: The Writing Life” focuses on hooks’s early career as a writer and the process she followed to produce some of her earliest works.

                            Like King’s “On Writing,” Hooks’ book is somewhat autobiographical as it provides insight into her journey and, well, writing life. She documents the trials she experienced, including an abusive relationship, while she was discovering herself as a writer.

                            If you are serious about effective communications, and need help demystifying the process, these books are required reading.

                            Get the book here!

                            While there are several books on this list, I recommend each of them as necessary for developing better social skills and better relationships.

                            Featured photo credit: Josh Felise via unsplash.com

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                            Jennifer R. Farmer

                            An author and public relations expert specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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                            Last Updated on December 2, 2018

                            7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

                            7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

                            When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

                            You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

                            1. Connecting them with each other

                            Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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                            It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

                            2. Connect with their emotions

                            Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

                            For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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                            3. Keep going back to the beginning

                            Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

                            On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

                            4. Link to your audience’s motivation

                            After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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                            Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

                            5. Entertain them

                            While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

                            Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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                            6. Appeal to loyalty

                            Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

                            In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

                            7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

                            Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

                            Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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