The 12 best books on communication

Communication is an essential human skill. Every single day, we engage in conversation. We send emails, chat with coworkers or give presentations. But do you know that the impact of your words and messaging relies heavily on the communication skills you learn and practice?

Developing your communication skills can significantly improve your life, but being an effective communicator isn’t easy. If you’re ready to upgrade your skills, we have a list of the best books on communication to get you started. 

Check out the 12 best books on communication to begin your journey to improving your current communication style. This list has every type of book you need to become a better communicator, covering everything from business and negotiation to public speaking and active listening.

The best books for building relationships

A great communicator is someone who can create connections between themselves and the people around them. Authenticity and vulnerability help achieve this goal – but knowing how to master these skills can be a challenge.

With this in mind, here are some of the best books for anyone looking to improve their relationship-building communication skills:

How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes

Being well-liked is essential for a great communicator. With the help of How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this skill.

Containing 92 “little tricks” designed to help you succeed in any type of relationship, this book has a wealth of knowledge for anyone struggling to find common ground with acquaintances or even strangers on the street.

This helpful resource shares advice on everything from how to make a great first impression to how to command a room like a popular celebrity.

Use this book to gain confidence, meet new people and leave a lasting impression.

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Headlee

Do you find yourself struggling to connect with your coworkers?

Voted NPR’s best book of 2017, We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Headlee is a powerful advice book that will change how you think about electronic communication and the importance of face-to-face connection.

This book, based on the author’s now-famous Ted Talk, shares helpful advice about being present, checking your existing biases and removing distractions to improve your ability to truly connect and communicate with people.

Use this resource to tackle disconnect and isolation in your relationships and become a more effective communicator.

It’s an easy and enjoyable read!

Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer

Deescalation and remaining calm during times of stress are important skills for anyone in a position of power or responsibility. If these are areas that you find yourself struggling with, Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach To Nonviolent Communication by Oren Jay Sofer is a great resource to explore.

This book is a helpful guide to make you more confident in conversations while reducing anxiety during confrontation. You’ll find helpful examples and techniques to become a better communicator under pressure.

This is useful reading for managers, C-suite executives or anyone working a high-pressure job who wants to learn how to remain cool and calm under pressure. It’s great for anyone who often finds themselves getting defensive during conflict.

The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane explores the underlying science behind being instantly likable. It’s a unique and insightful book that will help you break down communication barriers that prevent you from being more appealing. It contains a mix of stories, scientific experiments and actionable advice.

This book will give you the tools to better understand why some people seem to radiate charisma and charm. It will also help you harness its power to become a more effective communicator and collaborator in your own right.

The best books for business communication

Professional communication can be a tough style to crack, especially if you’re new to a job or industry. 

Ranging from topics about self-advocacy in the workplace to improving your cultural literacy, here are a few must-read business communication books worth checking out:

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss

When many of us think about negotiation, confrontation, discomfort and stress come to mind.

But, according to Chris Voss in his incredibly insightful book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It, knowing how to successfully negotiate is actually a valuable (and learnable) skill.

The author is a former FBI agent with a flair for teaching. His book includes a mix of real-life hostage situations with practical, usable advice to make you a more effective negotiator. For example, simply shifting the tone of your voice is an easy trick to influence negotiations.

The book helps you in a range of situations, including tackling important negotiation moments like buying a car, asking for a raise and even your kids’ bedtime. It’s an enjoyable, easy read that will make you feel more confident and prepared for the next time you need to advocate for yourself.

Think Faster, Talk Smarter by Matt Abrahams

Do you struggle with knowing what to say in spur-of-the-moment social situations?

Think Faster, Talk Smarter by Matt Abrahams is a masterclass in learning how to sound confident in surprise or impromptu social situations. It’s an excellent resource for people who find themselves tongue-tied when they don’t have a chance to prepare.

This book shares science-based insights about managing stress and anxiety and teaches you how to read a room’s energy. With what you learn, you’ll be able to effortlessly contribute to the conversation in a confident and memorable way.

This is a must-read for people working in client-facing roles.

Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great by Carmine Gallo

There’s a big gap between being a good communicator and being a great one. By reading Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great by Carmine Gallo, you can be well on your way to making the transition.

Written by the same author as the international bestseller “Talk Like Ted,” this book explores how you can improve your communication skills to sell, persuade and convince your audience about the importance of your ideas.

Gallo has included interviews with the world’s leading experts in neuroscience, economics and history. It’s a powerful guide that will inspire you to take control of your narrative and communicate your ideas in more effective and persuasive ways.

Tell Me Who You Are: A Road Map For Cultivating Racial Literacy by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi

Looking to improve your cultural literacy to better connect with the people around you? If so, Tell Me Who You Are: A Road Map For Cultivating Racial Literacy by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi is the resource for you.

This book shares stories of a cross-country experience across America, diving into building connections and learning people’s stories from all walks of life. It explores the societal understanding of race and ethnicity to share how deep listening and leaning into our differences can be the bridge to building a more unified and appreciative world for everyone.

This is particularly helpful for people in management and leadership roles. Learning how to connect with people about their unique experiences is the best way to be an effective leader.

The best books for learning how to listen

Listening is an essential (and often overlooked) part of being an effective communicator and leader.

Master the skills and techniques of active listening and become a better communicator by exploring these must-read books:

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

How much are you missing out on by not being an effective listener?

Written to tackle this question and explore the benefits of becoming a true active listener, You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy tackles this question and explores the benefits of becoming a true listener. It’s a valuable resource for reshaping your view on the importance of really listening.

This book combats the common narrative that we all need to project our thoughts and opinions to be valuable communicators. It focuses on how our modern digital age has taught us to deprioritize listening and connection, leading to increased feelings of isolation.

Murphy explores the many different facets of listening in an accessible and humorous way to provide an excellent read for anyone looking to become a more empathetic, compassionate leader and communicator.

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston

Being able to connect with absolutely anyone is no easy task. Just Listen: Discover the Secrets to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston is a great place to start if you want to tackle this challenge.

Goulston, a business coach, psychiatrist and consultant, shares his advice on using listening techniques to turn even the most closed-off and difficult people into your friends and allies.

Throughout the book, you’ll learn essential listening techniques that you can use in your professional and personal life, including how to make anyone feel understood and valued and how to move an angry person into a more rational, calm and open mindset.

The best books for public speaking

Effective public speakers understand that presenting and casual conversation require different communication skills.

Get better at public speaking before your next big pitch or presentation by reading these valuable resources on the topic:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini  

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini is one of the most prolific books in its category. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to level up their public speaking skills.

Influencing your audience to support your cause is an important skill. Cialdini’s helpful resource deep dives into the science behind persuasion. It provides insights that will help you become an ethical and effective communicator with a mission.

Discover the author’s principles of persuasion: reciprocation, commitment, consistency, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity and unity. You’ll develop the confidence to be a more persuasive communicator in both your professional and personal lives.

The Definitive Book of Body Language: The Hidden Meaning Behind People’s Gestures and Expressions by Allan Pease

Did you know that body language is an essential part of effective communication?

Allan Pease’s international bestseller, The Definitive Book of Body Language: The Hidden Meaning Behind People’s Gesture and Expressions, is a book about nonverbal communication that’s worth reading.

Body language – the silent behaviors that your posture, gestures and actions convey – significantly impacts your ability to be an effective public speaker.

This book offers a humorous and educational way to help you better understand how to use or read other people’s body language and build stronger connections. The author breaks down the hidden secrets your body may be communicating without you even knowing.

Use this resource to learn how your audience may interpret things like handshakes, gestures, smiling and fidgeting. You’ll also find out how to harness the power of body language to better share your message and create an impact.

Invest in your communication skills to get results

Interested in improving your communication practices?

Communication is an essential, learnable skill. Whether you want to become a better public speaker, influence others or get better at connecting with new people, there are plenty of valuable communication resources that can help you achieve your goals.

Become a better communicator and expand your communication techniques with Pip Decks. Explore our entire collection of communication resources.

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