This essential reading list is all about getting your mind right for the fight. The books below will improve your people skills, confidence and creativity. People will talk when you listen and believe in your ideas. Life will be less stressful – and a bit more fun.
If you want to be more productive, happier and popular around the office, take a look at these highly recommended titles.
"You need to be yourself. You can’t be no one else." But it's hard, in a world where 75% of people cover up their real personality at work. But if you want to be a big, big success – and keep your sanity – authenticity is the only way to go. Professor Stephen Joseph's experiments will help you feel accepted, understood and valued for who you are.
The author of Eat Pray Love gives us a guide to being brave, free and curious. Which incidentally are not just conducive to creativity, but likability too. Part spiritual, part practical – all helpful. Because the more creative we feel, the happier we feel – and the easier you'll be to get along with.
One of the most insightful books I've ever read. The crux is this: psychopaths have certain evolutionary advantages. Charm, fearlessness, focus. Kevin Dutton has studied SAS hero Andy McNabb for years, and together they've come up with a solid thesis: to be happier and more fulfilled, you need to think a little bit more like a psychopath. Just don't get carried away.
TV hypnotist Derren Brown turns philosopher with this in-depth study of classical wisdom and how it applies today. The chapter on how happiness has changed through the ages is especially interesting. There's loads of practical wisdom to apply to your everyday life, with pithy notes from Greek philosophers and Roman emperors. Everyone should read it. Then we'd all get along better.
Introversion is a spectrum. If you have introvert leanings or you're managing shy types, this is essential reading. High-flying lawyer Susan Cain tells us how introverts have a lower threshold for stimuli. Which causes problems in certain areas, but gives a massive advantage in others (some might say more important areas). A genuinely helpful book.
Got a judgemental inner voice? Course you have! Tame that evil succubus, make peace with your inner self and unhook yourself from unhelpful patterns. Give your brain some breathing space and watch your working relationships thrive.
Be more influential, more persuasive, even inspirational with an extra twist of charisma… powerful advice to make absolutely anyone more charismatic. Awesome if you have it; essential if you don't.
Confidence is sexy. Creative confidence is magnetic. This 5-star book from the honchos behind design giant IDEO is written to make less creative types confident. Still, there are lots to inspire genuinely creative types too – particularly for creative problem-solving in everyday life and interpersonal relationships.
Don't shoot the messenger, but the creative career path you've chosen is fraught with rejection: often daily. Let Guy Winch PhD triage and treat your demons with this helpful, heartfelt book on getting over it – and getting over yourself.
Cognitive psychologist Gary Klein on the complexities and mysteries of human decision-making. It's all about noticing connections, coincidences and curiosities, investigating contradictions, and creating breakthrough solutions. It's a great skills update for both interpersonal relations and creative work. Inspiring.
Oooh, conflict. The driver of all good narratives… but a daunting obstacle to getting things done at work unless you read Robert Boltons PhD’s classic 1986 guide to being just assertive enough while reducing defensiveness and aggression in others.
Everyone loves funny people. There are quite a few guides out there claiming to help drier souls be funny, but this one might work. It could help a better office communicator by using appropriate humour… or you might jack it all in and pursue stand up.
Straight-talking guide to asking all the right questions… Mr Stanier has the perfect question for every occasion. Kickstarting a conversation, keeping one on track, questions that save time and get right to the heart of the matter – it could change the way you communicate.
Promising "92 little tricks for big success", this book helps you work a party like a politician works a room, and become a genuine insider in any group — essential reading for introverts.
Be yourself, just with a better understanding of the social conventions that make you appear normal. BOLD is an easily digestible summary for self-reflection, with 212 practical ideas to try.
A useful concise guide to getting over barriers to listening properly that you probably didn't even realise was a problem – until you find yourself saying "that's me, I do that". Follow these teachings, and you'll listen with genuine empathy, which will make you a better problem solver, rapidly.
Veteran psychiatrist and business coach Mark Goulston enlightens us with simple, proven techniques for moving people from resistance to consensus. Includes sections on making a client "feel felt" and if someone is kicking off, chilling them down to a more receptive state. Priceless.
Dr Bernstein's got some crazy theories but I like them… Lying coworkers? Buy into their lies and watch what happens. Coworkers who don't like you? Feed them! Simultaneously fun and practical, this is an excellent book for understanding people and working through differences.
This ground-breaking research on how we judge and persuade each other helps you come out of potentially hazardous interpersonal skirmishes looking and feeling good.
Public speaking goes way beyond the podium. Adopting best practices for telling stories, getting buy-in and motivating others will help you every time you pipe up. A hefty 5-stars on Amazon.
Powerful tips on presenting to audiences large and small. A big help with covering nerves, using humour and staying away from 'sinful' body language. Five stars.
Emotional intelligence is the cornerstone of soft skills. This seminal 1996 book will help you understand people, notice what makes them tick and help you balance your own rational/emotional thought. Essential reading.
The art of 'pre-suasion' is a sort of verbal ninjutsu where subtle turns of phrase, seemingly insignificant visual cues and unimportant details of location can prime people to say "yes" even before they are asked. Put that on your CV and flog it.
War Reporter and Good Morning America host who endured a panic attack live on air gives us a pragmatic's guide to meditation. Brave, funny, insightful… and cheap. Only £1.49 on Kindle.
Fancy a non-fiction self-help book that'll make you laugh out loud? The writer and illustrator pulls it off with aplomb. It's not a joke book; it's a serious guide to contemporary etiquette that happens to be very funny. Love it.
Learn the neuroscience of information overload and coping strategies to keep you daydreaming. As daydreaming is where both good ideas and fresh conversation starters come from, it's a powerful tool for getting your mindset for creative office life… full of sensible, practical advice.
All this self-improvement is going to take a lot of willpower, so why not try this excellent scientific guide to the discipline, grasshopper? Smash procrastination in the face. Be a better, more reliable colleague for it!
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