I Owe My Communication Skills to These 5 Books

Impactful reads to help you get better at public speaking, negotiation, and interpersonal communication.

I Owe My Communication Skills to These 5 Books
Image from the author’s Instagram

Impactful reads to help you get better at public speaking, negotiation, and interpersonal communication.

I’m writing this article from the airport.

It’s 8 PM and I’m flying back home from a work meeting a friend invited me to. He’s a startup founder who asked for my help in pitching his product to one of the country’s most powerful cabinet ministers.

It was one of the most important meetings of his life, and when he asked me to help him pitch, I was shocked. I haven’t the slightest clue of the technicalities his startup is involved in.

“Why me?” I asked.

“You’re so good at public speaking. For this meeting, I need the most talented communicator I know.”

How could I not accept after such an endearing endorsement?

The meeting went well. We extended a 30-minute conversation to two hours, and have our calendars booked for a follow-up meeting next week. At this stage, this is the best we could have hoped for.

But this article isn’t about that.

This article is about how communication is a skill you need to work on, not something you’re born with. Delivering the right message at the right time is an art.

There are plenty of books teaching you how to communicate, and in this post, I’m listing my five favorites. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, but everything that I know about communication, negotiation, and public speaking, I learned from these five books.

1. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

Image: Goodreads

There are times when our emotions flare. We act on our impulses and suffer later. This is something I only recently learned to control after reading Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson.

This book will help you communicate what’s on your mind effortlessly and get the results you want. The tips mentioned here teach you to be persuasive while being respectful. It has several psychological tricks that will help you create a positive impact during any conversation.

The book teaches how to build an environment for a healthy discussion and turn crucial conversations into actionable results. We’ve to accept different people can have different opinions to avoid arguments and start meaningful conversations. Emotions should be under control while having crucial conversations and rash decisions shouldn’t be made based on impulses.

My favorite quotes from Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

“At the core of every successful conversation lies the free flow of relevant information.”
“Respect is like air. As long as it’s present, nobody thinks about it. But if you take it away, it’s all that people can think about. The instant people perceive disrespect in a conversation, the interaction is no longer about the original purpose — it is now about defending dignity.”
“The mistake most of us make in our crucial conversations is we believe that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend.”

2. Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Image: Goodreads

Do you have difficulty setting boundaries or saying no to unwanted requests? If yes, then Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend might help you get better at standing up for what you want.

Not setting clear boundaries with your friends, family, colleagues, and even with yourself leads to disappointment. Some people feel guilty defining boundaries and hesitate to tell others what they’re not okay with. If you suffer from the same, this book will act as a handy guide to transform your life for good.

Boundaries has clearly mentioned different types of boundaries such as

  • physical,
  • mental,
  • spiritual, and
  • emotional

Humans need these boundaries to have a balanced life. The book addresses common problems faced while protecting your personal space and discusses methods to tackle situations when your boundaries are crossed.

My favorite quotes from Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

“True intimacy is only built around the freedom to disagree.”
“If you continue to blame other people for “making” you feel guilty, they still have power over you, and you are saying that you will only feel good when they stop doing that. You are giving them control over your life. Stop blaming other people.”
“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.”

3. Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Image: Goodreads

People listen to you when you can present your thoughts in a way that resonates with them. A master communicator knows how to make the audience feel connected and relate to what they’re saying.

This is the key to meaningful communication.

Resonate by Nancy Duarte will teach you how to influence the audience with presentations that resonate with them. When you mix passion, persuasion, and meaning for the audience, you can lead them to follow your desired call to action. This book is helpful for those who want to try their hands at content creation, public speaking, pitching, and reaching out to larger audiences.

As it’s mentioned in the book, presenting your product or service today is like writing a documentary. Great presentations can persuade audiences to change their minds, make a purchase, or take certain actions. This book showed me the power of presenting and resonating with people. Definitely give it a read if you want to build a strong personal brand and leave a lasting influence on people you meet.

My favorite quotes from Resonate by Nancy Duarte

“The enemy of persuasion is obscurity.”
“Ideas are not really alive if they are confined to only one person’s mind.”
“The audience does not need to tune themselves to you — you need to tune your message to them. Skilled presenting requires you to understand their hearts and minds and create a message to resonate with what’s already there.”

4. Unleash the Power of Storytelling by Rob Biesenbach

Image: Goodreads

Storytelling is a craft everyone should know in this age of distractions. Unleash the Power of Storytelling by Rob Biesenbach is a game changer in mastering your communication. The book teaches the importance of storytelling and is packed with actionable takeaways on how to do it.

No matter how much talent or potential you have, you’ll need to tell your story and connect with the right people to grow your brand. This book is a gem filled with examples and illustrations that teach storytelling for job interviews, meetings, earning a raise, networking, and building trust.

A well-told story has the power to connect, inspire, teach, and sell. Unleash the Power of Storytelling is a book worth reading if you want to tell stellar stories that let you get away with what you want.

My favorite quotes from Unleash the Power of Storytelling by Rob Biesenbach

‘Storytelling is about condensing and interpreting events in order to better ensure audience understanding.’
“There is no greater skill that will positively impact your career as much as becoming a masterful storyteller. Well-told stories have the power to teach, clarify, and inspire.”
“What did you want to be when you were growing up? What does your child think you do? What’s the best lesson you learned from a parent, friend, or mentor? How did you get started? What do you love about your job? How does what you do make a difference to others? What frustrates you? What makes you proud? Who are your heroes and why?”

5. Just Listen by Mark Goulston

Image: Goodreads

Communication involves effectively conveying your points to the other person while understanding what they’re feeling or trying to say. Mastering communication involves mastering the art of listening. If you can’t overcome emotional barricades then the conversation might take a wrong turn.

Just Listen by Mark Goulston helps you deal with clients, family, or colleagues effectively. You can make a strong first impression by cultivating the art of active listening. This skill can diffuse tension with angry colleagues or any aggressive person you encounter. When you listen, you can create a positive impact and turn the conversation in your favor.

Just Listen has multiple tips to help you become an effective communicator. This book taught me the difference between just hearing and actually listening to someone. It teaches you how to make others feel valued and make them respect your case.

My favorite quotes from Just Listen by Mark Goulston

“One absolutely crucial element in moving your brain from panic to logic is to put words to what you’re feeling at each stage.”
“Perpetually needy people suck the life out of you because no matter what you do for them, it’s never enough.”
“Sitting people down and lecturing them rarely works, because it makes them defensive — and when they’re defensive, they hide things from you. Work side by side with them in a cooperative activity, however, and you’ll lower their guard and get them to open up.”

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