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25 Books To Sharpen Your Social Skills (And Transform Your Career)

Humans are strange creatures. Luckily, since you are one, you already have all the tools you need for getting along with them. Even though they come so naturally to some people, no one is born with the skills for fitting into society; these skills are learned over time. It’s never too late to improve your ability to meet people, make friends, and communicate.

These 25 books can help you take your social skills to the next level and earn you huge payoffs in both your personal and professional lives:

  1. PeopleSmart: Developing Your Interpersonal Intelligence by Mel Silberman.

    In an easy-to-read style, Silberman lays out practical techniques for developing your “IQ”: your interpersonal quotient. His eight ways to be more effective in your relationships have the backing of scholarly research, just what you’d expect of a Ph.D.

  2. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes.

    It’s not a full 100, but 92 hacks for facilitating dialogue between any other human on the planet ain’t half bad. Smash through the ice of any first meeting, and find common ground with people you’ve never met.

  3. Conversationally Speaking : Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness by Alan Garner.

    After 15 years since its first print run, the tools in this book can’t really be called “new” anymore. But a million or so readers can attest to the effectiveness of Garner’s recommendations for handling criticism, listening, and reducing anxiety in social scenarios.

  4. Talk to Strangers: How Everyday, Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income, and Life by David Topus.

    If you continue to follow the childhood dictum to never talk to strangers, you may be passing up connections that could change your life. David Topus can help ensure your random encounters don’t result in a restraining order.

  5. People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts by Robert Bolton.

    One of the most widely recommended social skills books, People Skills is packed with insightful tips for improving your communication, from using silence to asserting yourself to have your needs met.

  6. Get Off The Bench: Unleashing The Power of Strategic Networking Through Relationships by Sidney E. Fuchs.

    The importance of networking in career success can’t be emphasized enough, especially in a tough economy. Fuchs shows you how to get into the game and what to avoid with practical advice and real-world examples.

  7. Emily Post’s Etiquette by Peggy Post, Anna Post, Lizzie Post, and Daniel Post Senning.

    The descendants of the famous etiquette author bring her legendary wisdom of social etiquette to bear on topics like unfriending people on Facebook and covering up tattoos for job interviews. It’s a fitting tribute to an etiquette icon for a digital generation.

  8. How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People by Leslie T. Giblin.

    Giblin presents the world as it is and shows you how to get what you want without waiting for other people to change. Usually this is win-win anyway, like creating a good impression on others or making the other person feel friendly.

  9. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to talk to anyone about anything? Instead of avoiding big conversations, you’ll learn how to prepare for them in six minutes and turn them into opportunities for getting ahead in life, after you read this book.

  10. The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism by Olivia Fox Cabane.

    This book blows the lid off the longstanding belief that some people just have that it, and there’s nothing someone can do to get it other than be born with it. Cabane shows readers how to learn charisma and how to wield it responsibly.

  11. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

    We put it as low as we reasonably could, but no list about social skills would be complete without this title. Dale Carnegie’s iconic book recently celebrated its 75th anniversary; we challenge you to find another self-help book that’s stood the test of time so well.

  12. Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships by George Fraser.

    Networking is important for business, but connecting is taking relationships to the next level. Fraser shows you how to do just that with his 10 tips, like being the first one to trust, being open to everything, and communicating from the heart.

  13. Golf Rules & Etiquette Crystal Clear by Yves C. Ton-That.

    It may be a cliche to think of major deals being made on the golf course, but it got that way because deals really are made that way all the time. This book will help you navigate the country club with grace.

  14. Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior by Beverly Flaxington.

    Flaxington wrote this book after teaching a graduate course called “Dealing with Difficult People.” Think of this book as just “Dealing with People,” as grasping her five secrets will help you deal with everybody, difficult or not.

  15. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki.

    Former Apple evangelist, venture capitalist, and blogger Kawasaki penned this great book on effecting a change for the better in the people you encounter. If you agree people are enchanted with Apple products, it would be a good idea to take his advice to heart.

  16. Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis by Eric Berne.

    Nearly 50 years ago, Eric Berne pulled the mask off all the little games we all play in our social interactions, and still the game goes on. You’ll fare much better if you read this book and know what exactly it is you’re playing.

  17. The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey.

    If self-help books turn you off with advice that makes you feel like a phony, this is the book for you. Covey lays out the ways to build real trust in your relationships, whether they’re business, friendship, or love.

  18. The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t by Robert I. Sutton.

    It’s not often you see “asshole” and “civilized” in the same sentence. Hopefully you don’t have any jerks at your work, but if you do (or you are one), Sutton’s got the tools to help you survive them (or stop being one).

  19. It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone by Robin Dreeke.

    Dreeke writes from 15 years of experience with the FBI, where he worked as lead trainer for social engineering and interpersonal skills. In other words, he knows people, and he’ll teach you how to communicate with anyone, quickly and with little “filler.”

  20. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

    Although not strictly a social skills help book, Switch is recommended by many readers to help smooth your transition into a more sociable person, especially if the idea of trying to be more outgoing causes you stress.

  21. Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner.

    This bestseller has been updated to incorporate the new class of people no one can stand, who were birthed by the digital age. The Doctors Rick are here to arm you with the communication skills to not be defeated by whiners, close-talkers, or pedants.

  22. Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition; Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman.

    Probably you’ve noticed by now that smarts don’t make the world go round. The people who find true success know how to create and foster healthy relationships, at work and in their private lives, and you can too with the Daniel Goleman’s help.

  23. Small Talk Big Results: Chit Chat Your Way to Success! by Diane Windingland.

    Small talk is often boring, unauthentic, cheesy, and repetitive. It’s also an unavoidable part of living in a society, so you might as well get good at it.

  24. The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership by Lisa Petrilli.

    We didn’t forget you, introverts. While some self-help books for shy people are simply collections of quotes from extroverts saying why it’s great to be outgoing, Petrilli celebrates quiet people. The book has great advice for enhancing your social prowess while staying an introvert at heart.

  25. Personality Plus: How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself by Florence Littauer.

    Littauer is well-known in marriage counseling circles for her books and writings, but she is more generally an expert on personalities. This best-seller can help you understand your own personality type, as well as give you an idea of the other types and how best to deal with them.


This article was first posted on Best Colleges Online.

This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.

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