Advertising
Advertising

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!

      Advertising

      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.

            Advertising

            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.

                  Advertising

                  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.

                        Advertising

                        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

                            More by this author

                            Jennifer R. Farmer

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

                            9 Powerful Techniques for Building Rapport with Anyone 10 Signs of a Bad Boss and How to Deal with Them 5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You) How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work

                            Trending in Social Animal

                            1 14 Helpful Tips for Single Parents: How to Stay Sane While Doing it All 2 15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work 3 Why Attachment Styles in Relationships Affect Your Love Life 4 How to Maintain Strong Interpersonal Relationships 5 How to Love: 14 Ways to Be a More Loving Partner

                            Read Next

                            Advertising
                            Advertising
                            Advertising

                            Last Updated on August 19, 2019

                            How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

                            How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

                            We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

                            When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

                            In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

                            Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

                            If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

                            According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

                            No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

                            When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

                            Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

                            1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

                            When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

                            Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

                            When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

                            Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

                            In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

                            Advertising

                            It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

                            You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

                            Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

                            What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

                            You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

                            That’s where we all should be.

                            So, answer me this:

                            How are you, really?

                            And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

                            Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

                            Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

                            Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

                            Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

                            It’s taking control.

                            Advertising

                            2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

                            You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

                            You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

                            In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

                            Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

                            You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

                            Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

                            But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

                            It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

                            In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

                            It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

                            Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

                            Change will happen.

                            Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

                            You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

                            Advertising

                            And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

                            You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

                            That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

                            You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

                            When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

                            There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

                            3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

                            Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

                            In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

                            If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

                            Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

                            Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

                            How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

                            Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

                            “Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

                            Advertising

                            Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

                            Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

                            It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

                            Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

                            “If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

                            What would you do if you felt you were enough?

                            By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

                            So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

                            Final Thoughts

                            By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

                            Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

                            When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

                            You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

                            More About Living Your True Self

                            Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

                            Reference

                            Read Next