Popular Self-Help Books for Improving Interpersonal Skills

Social skills self-help books are a good option for those with social anxiety disorder (SAD) who want to improve their interpersonal functioning. These books cover a wide range of topics including body language, effective speaking and general people skills. Just like self-help books for anxiety, those for interpersonal skills should be chosen carefully.

In a 2008 study, it was determined that the best self-help books have similar qualities. These include being grounded in science (what we call "evidence-based"), realistic in terms of what you are promised (should not promise a "cure"), detailed in the guidance that is offered, and not providing any inaccurate or false information (what's called "doing no harm").

1
How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

Leil Lowndes' How to Talk to Anyone book cover
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Author Leil Lowndes has dedicated her life to teaching the art of successful communication. In How to Talk to Anyone, she offers 92 strategies for success in dealing with people in a way that will naturally attract others to you.

Tips cover topics such as first impressions, small talk, body language, and rapport. Lowndes writes in an entertaining and direct way, even giving her tips catchy names so that you will remember them, such as "Rubberneck the room."

2
PeopleSmart: Developing Your Personal Intelligence

People Smart book cover
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PeopleSmart is a practical guide to improving your interpersonal effectiveness in both professional and personal relationships. This book presents a four-step plan for improving eight key interpersonal skills using examples, tools, and exercises.

3
How to Instantly Connect with Anyone

How to Instantly Connect with Anyone book cover
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In How to Instantly Connect with Anyone, Leil Lowndes describes how to harness the power of a concept known as an emotional prediction for success in business and personal relationships. Research-based techniques are provided to help you make an impression and command respect in all areas of your life.

4
Conversationally Speaking

Conversationally Speaking book cover
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Conversationally Speaking by Alan Garner offers tips for improving your conversation skills and reducing social anxiety. Advice covers areas such as the different types of questions that you can ask during a conversation, how to listen well, and how to receive compliments.

5
The Fine Art of Small Talk

The Fine Art of Small Talk book cover
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The Fine Art of Small Talk offers tips from communications expert Debra Fine about making better small talk. Included are strategies and techniques to help you avoid awkward silences, improve your listening ability, and start conversations. While this book veers into etiquette territory, it will still be useful for those suffering from social anxiety.

6
People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others and Resolve Conflicts

People Skills book cover
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People Skills by Robert Bolton is a communication skills handbook geared towards helping you navigate relationships successfully.

The author examines the 12 most common barriers to communication that damage relationships and how to overcome them. Strategies offered cover areas such as listening skills, assertiveness, conflict resolution, and how to use silence effectively (yes, it's sometimes a tool rather than the result of anxiety).

7
The Definitive Book of Body Language

The Definitive Book of Body Language book cover
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The Definitive Book of Body Language is a guide to understanding and learning how to better manage nonverbal communication behaviors. Included are tips on how to read other's emotions and thoughts through their body language and how to ensure you are sending the right signals with your own body language. As most of what you say is transmitted through your body and tone of voice, mastering the art of body language should be top on your list when working on interpersonal skills.

8
Dale Carnegie's Lifetime Plan for Success

Dale Carnegie's Lifetime Plan for Success book cover
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This volume combines two of motivational author Dale Carnegie's best-selling books: How to Win Friends and Influence People and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. If you are going to purchase any books on this topic, Carnegie's works have stood the test of time and are well worth a read.

How to Win Friends and Influence People handles topics such as dealing with people, becoming a better speaker, and attracting friends.​

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living explores how to avoid  emotional upset and reduce worry in your life. Though written over 60 years ago, both books are still relevant today.

Source:

Redding, R. E., Herbert, J. D., Forman, E. M., & Gaudiano, B. A. (2008). Popular self-help books for anxiety, depression, and trauma: How scientifically grounded and useful are theyProfessional Psychology: Research and Practice, 39(5), 537-545.

A Word From Verywell

Where should you start? That depends on where you want to end up. Perhaps begin with Dale Carnegie or Leil Lowndes, depending on whether you want big-picture ideas or specific tips and tricks. From there, you can move on to different aspects of interpersonal skills such as body language and small talk. Whatever you do, be sure that you actually try to practice what you read in these books. While it may be tempting to revert back to your previous behavior, going back to old habits won't help you move forward. Make it a game if you have to, and give yourself a reward every time you use a strategy out of one of these books.

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