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10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

10 Books That Will Reshape How You Think About Relationships

This is a list of the top 10 books that I recommend to clients, both in individual and couples counseling.  Each one provides a unique way to better understand who you are and how you typically act within relationships.  You don’t have to be in a relationship for these books to be helpful; in fact, if you read these books before you get into a relationship, you’re much likelier to attract the right person. Even more importantly, you’ll know ways to stay happy and connected once you find the person for you.

1. Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, 20th Anniversary Edition
     by Harville Hendrix.

    getting the love you want

      This book is truly life-changing.  You will finally understand why you picked your partner, even though they often trigger you and may seem like the worst possible choice for you on many levels. Hint: it has to do with repeating familiar patterns from your childhood.  There are wonderful exercises as well, for you and your partner to do together to make you feel closer.

      2. Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
         by Dr. Sue Johnson

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        hold me tight

          Another worldview changer. This book discusses the concept of attachment panic,which explains why you may feel so anxious and off-balance when your partner withdraws or acts distant.  This is a completely normal response for human beings, and Dr. Johnson explains how you and your partner can get out of this “dance” of closeness-withdrawal and genuinely connect on a level you did not think was possible.

          3.Wanting Sex Again: How to Rediscover Your Desire and Heal a Sexless Marriage
             by Laurie Watson

            wanting sex again

              For couples who are struggling with one or both partners experiencing low sexual desire, this is a wonderful, resource-filled book that provides education, clinical examples, and practical ways to jumpstart a fulfilling physical relationship.  Whether your decreased desire stems from boredom, deep seated hurt and lack of trust, or biological reasons, this book can provide you with new hope.

              4. The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You
                 by Elaine Aron

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                hsp in love

                  Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?  Do you need your alone time, hate chaos and loud noise, and feel overwhelmed and stressed when your routine is disrupted?  Whether you are partnered with another HSP or someone who constantly feels that you’re “making a big deal out of nothing” and entreats you to “just go with the flow,” you need this book.  It can help you learn to get the most out of your intimate relationships, while being true to yourself and your needs.

                  5. The ADHD Effect on Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov

                  adhd effect on marriage

                    Since ADHD affects 4 percent of adults, there are many readers out there who want to learn how to deal with this issue within their relationships.  Even if you just suspect your partner may have ADHD, read this book. For spouses of individuals with ADHD, this book can save your sanity.  Finally you see that it’s not just you being hyper-critical; ADHD truly has a devastating impact on marriages if partners do not work together to ameliorate some of its effects.  Also discusses the phenomenon of the hyper-focused courtship, where someone with ADHD becomes focused on the relationship to the exclusion of all else, which feels great for the partner.  Soon after marriage though, focus often switches to something else, and the partner feels bereft. Sound familiar?  Get the book.

                      6. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
                         by Gary Chapman

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                        5 love languages

                          This classic book explain how have partners often  different “love languages,” which means that what is meaningful and loving to one may not what is valued by the other.  It’s wasted effort and harmful to your relationship if you keep giving someone what they don’t want, e.g. planning surprises for a guy who prefers affectionate touch, or doing the dishes for a woman who would rather hear verbal expressions of love.  This book helps you figure out your love language and that of your partner, and how to use this idea to create a closer connection.

                          7. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last
                             by John Gottman

                            why marriages succeed

                              John Gottman is one of the most respected and renowned relationship researchers of our time.  In this book, he guides you through figuring out what you’re doing right and wrong within your marriage, using self-tests (do you love quizzes?  I do) and straightforward advice.  This book is science-based yet easy to understand, and will give you concrete advice to help your relationship thrive.

                              8. The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love by Ty Tashiro

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                                science of happily ever after

                                  Ty Tashiro was a professor on my dissertation committee!  And even if he hadn’t been, I would have loved reading his acccessible, yet research-based book about why we pick our partners.  He discusses why our decision making abilities, so effective in other realms of life, often lead us astray in the area of choosing a partner, and what we can do about this.  And he’s funny too. Singles will have a special preference for this book, because they are still in the choosing-a-partner process.

                                  9. Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel

                                    Why do people eventually stop connecting physically and romantically after a few years or so of being together?  I am coining the word monotogamy to refer to this phenomenon, and although Esther Perel doesn’t mention this word (because I invented it yesterday), she has written a fascinating, un-put-downable book rife with clinical examples that show why relationships fall into a stale and boring pattern, with creative solutions to rekindling your desire.

                                    mating in captivity

                                      10. Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love
                                         by Dorothy Tennov

                                        love and limerence

                                          Did you know that evolutionarily, we are only expected to remain passionate about our lover (the feeling of infatuation or limerence) for two years, so that the couple can stay together long enough to conceive a baby and raise it for it’s first year of life?  We are wired to become virtually obsessed with new partners, particularly when it’s uncertain whether they reciprocate our feelings.  This is truly an eye-opening read about why people become so infatuated with their crushes and new partners.  It was published in 1979, but has become a classic and is just as relevant today.

                                          Featured photo credit: Couple Reading Books via pagesay.com

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                                          Last Updated on April 11, 2019

                                          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                                          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                                          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

                                          I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

                                          I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

                                          Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

                                          How Communication Skills Help Your Success

                                          Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

                                          Create a Positive Experience

                                          Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

                                          When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

                                          What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

                                          Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

                                          As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

                                          Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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                                          Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

                                          Help Leadership Skills

                                          It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

                                          Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

                                          As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

                                          Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

                                          If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

                                          Build Better Teams

                                          Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

                                          In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

                                          If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

                                          When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

                                          Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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                                          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

                                          There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

                                          Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

                                          1. Listen

                                          Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

                                          Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

                                          People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

                                          Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

                                          Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

                                          2. Know Your Audience

                                          Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

                                          Here is a good way to think about it:

                                          Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

                                          You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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                                          3. Minimize

                                          I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

                                          He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

                                          Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

                                          State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

                                          The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

                                          4. Over Communicate

                                          So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

                                          What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

                                          Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

                                          Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

                                          Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

                                          There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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                                          5. Body Language

                                          The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

                                          When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

                                          In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

                                          When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

                                          Conclusion

                                          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

                                          Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

                                          There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

                                          Now go communicate your way to success.

                                          More Resources About Effective Communication

                                          Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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