15 helpful books for boosting your communication skills at work

15 helpful books for boosting your communication skills at work

In Reading Lists by Molly Hurford

15 helpful books for boosting your communication skills at work

Clear and effective communication is one of the most useful skills you can master. Think about it: Whether you’re preparing a sales pitch, negotiating a raise, or trying to appease a very PO’d customer, you need to be able to get your message across firmly and tactfully. 

But while a lucky few may be born with the gift of confident and clear gab, some (yours truly included) might find themselves tripping over their words with all the grace of a bull in a china shop. That’s where these top recommended books for effective communication come in handy. 

My personal favorite is Never Split the Difference. Voss, a former FBI negotiator, shares the principles that guided his extraordinarily high-pressure work. While I won’t be handling any hostage situations anytime soon (god forbid), I found that his advice and tactics can be applied to everyday life in the office or at home. 

Learn how to say what you mean and mean what you say with the best books on communication in the workplace and beyond.

1. Think Faster, Talk Smarter by Matt Abrahams 

If the thought of public speaking makes you sweat, spontaneous public speaking probably leaves you in a puddle. 

An impromptu presentation at work, an unexpected question at a job interview, a request to give a toast at a social gathering — these dreaded, unplanned situations can arise anytime, anywhere. 

Make sure you’re at the top of your game with Abrahams’ comprehensive road map that transforms stage fright into confident communication. A combination of techniques to organize thoughts and create script structures will help you know what to say and how to say it the next time all eyes are on you. 


2. Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Emily Gregory

Worried about an upcoming chat with your boss or struggling to speak your truth with friends? Multiple New York Times bestselling authors have the solutions. In Crucial Conversations, they explain how to navigate high-stakes, important conversations while keeping your cool.

As uncomfortable as it is to have tough conversations, they don’t have to be a barrier to moving forward. Healthy communication, including giving and receiving feedback, is essential for personal development. 


3. Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

For over 20 years, people from all walks of life have turned to Rosenberg’s revolutionary guide to learn the language of nonviolent communication. The ultimate goal of this acclaimed communication book is to replace judgment with compassion and understanding. 

With an emphasis on personal responsibility, empathy, and compassion, Rosenberg teaches skills that can be applied to any situation, whether it’s a disagreement in the workplace or a family dispute. 


As hard as we might try to avoid them, it’s not always possible to avoid dealing with difficult people. Rather than expend valuable energy dodging office bullies, suck-ups, irate customers, and credit hogs, have the right tools in your pocket so you can tackle conflict resolution head on. 

With Evenson’s scripts, best practices, and tactics for handling other people’s less-than-ideal behavior, you can diplomatically navigate tricky conversations while keeping your relationships intact. 


5. Communicating Your Value by Nita Singh Kaushal

There is no one else at work who can be a better advocate for you than yourself. So why is it so hard to speak up for ourselves and get rightful recognition when recognition is due? 

Nita Singh Kausha, the founder of Miss CEO, knows that this can be a struggle and barrier to advancement, especially for early-stage professionals and women. Learn how to effectively communicate your value in the workplace with Kaushal’s reflection exercises and messaging advice.


Voss knows a thing or two about the art of negotiation. As a former hostage negotiator for the FBI, he has quite literally negotiated as if a life depended on it. He brings his years of experience in handling high-stakes, high-pressure situations to the table in an extraordinary guide that at times reads like a breathtaking thriller

While you may never have to negotiate with terrorists or kidnappers, his advice about tactical empathy can be applied to all situations. Learning how to get what you need — whether it’s a raise, promotion, or something related to a personal issue — is a skill that will carry you far in life. 


7. Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson 

Myers-Briggs personality types. Hippocrates’ temperaments. The noble houses of Hogwarts. 

There’s a great deal of research that supports the categorization of people based on personality traits. So it stands to reason that it’s possible to group people based on the way they communicate.

In Surrounded by Idiots, Erikson breaks down communicators into four different types (Reds, Greens, Yellows, and Blues) and explains how each color operates in the business world. He also shares how to most effectively communicate with each in a fun, accessible way. (And no, the answer is not to treat everyone around you like they’re an idiot.) 


8. Business Communication by Harvard Business Review 

For a straightforward business communication book that’s focused on getting your message across to potential customers and getting co-workers on board with your ideas, this nine-step guide from the Harvard Business Review delivers. 

It contains recommendations for all types of communication, from public speaking to drafting a proposal that will actually get read to sending emails that will garner speedy replies.


9. Just Listen by Mark Goulston 

Maybe the key to effective, efficient business communication isn’t about how you speak to someone or craft an email: It’s about how you listen. 

Goulston, a psychiatrist, business consultant, and coach, argues that listening is the secret to smooth business communication. Make your boss, co-worker, or client feel heard and understood, and you’ll be better positioned to effectively communicate your ideas.


10. Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo 

Prepping for a big presentation at work? Gallo has studied and interviewed the top TED Talk speakers to figure out their secret sauce when it comes to delivering a short, compelling presentation that effectively communicates big ideas. 

No matter how good your idea is, your ability to sell it is what’ll give it traction. Gallo outlines a simple, step-by-step method to help you emulate the greats and present with confidence and purpose. 


11. Small Talk by Aston Sanderson 

At first glance, small talk doesn’t seem like an important part of business communications. But being able to make casual conversation before a meeting or at a corporate event can do wonders for your career. It can also make work a little more fun.

 In this quick read, Sanderson explains how to relax into small talk and make conversation in any situation. It’s practical and includes things you can do to enhance small talk without actually talking. Body language, listening techniques, and reading your conversational partner are all important facets of making great small talk.


12. We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee 

Struggling to have that conversation with your boss? Whether you want to make a case for a raise, file a complaint, or put your name in the ring for a big promotion, it can be hard to just start the conversation. 

Headlee gets it: Her TED Talk on the topic has garnered over 10 million views. In We Need to Talk, she helps people get to the root of why we shy away from tough conversations, and learn how to make them happen. 

One tip: Put down your phone and stop multitasking if you want to plan for and have a meaningful conversation.


13. No Explanation Required! by Carol Sankar 

“I’m sorry.” 

“Does that make sense?” 

“This might be a bad idea, but…” 

These are such simple words but they have the power to undermine your hard work. Thanks to society’s deeply entrenched roots in a male-dominated hierarchy, women are more likely to use language that weakens their credibility and authority. In reality, women don’t need an explanation or preface to share their opinion.

However, it’s easier said than done to catch these sneaky self-sabotaging phrases. Sankar offers some practical tips for better, firmer communication that will allow your expertise to shine through, including some great advice for negotiations at work.


14. The Elevated Communicator by Maryanne O'Brien

In The Elevated Communicator, O’Brien focuses on leveling up your communication skills in the office. There’s no secret vocabulary to learn, though. She argues that authenticity and letting your personality shine are key to building trust with employees and employers alike. 

Good communication isn’t just a productivity tool, it’s essential for a healthy, thriving workplace where people are actually happy. Through that lens, it’s clear that work communication matters for more than just the bottom line.


15. Effective Communication at Work by Vicki McLeod 

Communication now extends far beyond how you speak to your coworkers. Written communication has replaced most of our work chatter: Emails have eliminated the need for meetings and watercooler gossip now takes place over Slack. 

Given this cultural shift, McLeod’s guide discusses writing just as much as it delves into speaking. She doesn’t assume all writing is created equal: Effective emails look different from effective texts. She also has advice for cultivating strong relationships when you don’t share an office, which is more relevant than ever.

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About the Author: Molly Hurford

Molly is a writer and bookworm in love with all things wellness related. When not playing outside, she’s writing or podcasting about being outside and healthy habits for The Consummate Athlete. She also writes books, including the Shred Girls series. In her spare time, she runs, rides bikes, and hikes with her mini-dachshund and husband.