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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 June 19, 2019

                            6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

                            6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

                            I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

                            Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

                            It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

                            1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

                            It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

                            Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

                            When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

                            2. Trust the Muse

                            Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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                            When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

                            “The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

                            The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

                            If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

                            The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

                            Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

                            3. Remember to Be Authentic

                            Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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                            How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

                            For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

                            One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

                            Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

                            Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

                            4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

                            I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

                            One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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                            Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

                            A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

                            Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

                            5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

                            It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

                            We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

                            If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

                            You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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                            6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

                            As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

                            The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

                            Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

                            Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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                            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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