In my professional development presentation, I recommend several books for developing interpersonal skills. I’m a big believer in always learning, always improving, even in areas I think I do well. So whether you struggle at dealing with other people (I’m a very painful introvert, so I naturally do) or you are the life of the party, there’s always something you can do better. Here is a small set of books I have found helpful in my career:
The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
Everyone is different, but there are some basic ways in which we understand love and praise and there are just as basic ways that we communicate such. While this book is intended for couples, the principles apply to any relationship. Understanding how our worker receives positive feedback from us is important. This book will show you how.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
If you think you understand how people tick, you don’t. That’s what this book reveals. It’s built on a lot of common sense, but what I found surprising is how much I knew but didn’t apply properly. For instance, if hardened criminals can justify in their minds why they aren’t bad folks, do you really think pointing out the shortcomings of your coworkers is going to be effective? This is the first main point and the book is full of many more.
Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture, by John Gottman
Building a successful team is hard work. Building a successful team that grows in strength and capability is even harder, except your team can help you do that. However, it requires mentoring, trust, and accountability. There are right ways and wrong ways to motivate employees along those lines. That’s what this book is about, told in a story like fashion of a young executive who is faced with a lot more authority and responsibility than she thinks she is ready for.
Never Eat Lunch Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi
This was the first book that got me thinking about how I spent my time with business relationships and what I made out of those relationships. It taught me that a lot of what we see out there for advice and tools are bad. Ferrazzi instead insists on building real relationships, not just a contact list on LinkedIn. He intermixes business and personal in a lot of what he does because there aren’t clear cut dividers when the purpose is to get to know folks. There are huge benefits to getting to know folks well, such as they being willing to pass on your information to another acquaintance, being able to ask for help from them, to having someone who truly cases in tough times. But it goes beyond that, and Ferrazzi talks about how relationships, any healthy relationships, enrich our lives. This book also taught me to see conferences more as a means of meeting people and getting to know them, rather than just stuffing myself full of knowledge and my bag full of SWAG.