The most recommended interpersonal communication books

Who picked these books? Meet our 59 experts.

59 authors created a book list connected to interpersonal communication, and here are their favorite interpersonal communication books.
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Book cover of Someone To Talk To: How Networks Matter in Practice

Janice M. McCabe Author Of Connecting in College: How Friendship Networks Matter for Academic and Social Success

From my list on complicated friendships and meaningful connections.

Who am I?

I’ve been studying friendships for over 20 years. As a sociologist, I use social science research methods, particularly interviewing and network analysis, to better understand who people are friends with and how friendship ties help us. As a professor at Dartmouth College, I’m particularly interested in how friendship ties help college students academically and socially and how they get in the way academically and socially. My first research on friendship was a group project in a Women’s Studies course at Tulane University focused on undergraduate women’s close friendships. The best part of that study was developing close friendships with each other, some of which have lasted more than two decades!

Janice's book list on complicated friendships and meaningful connections

Janice M. McCabe Why did Janice love this book?

While friends are important in many ways, so are “weak ties” within our networks. In this non-fiction book, sociologist Mario Luis Small analyzes interviews with a group of graduate students, investigating who they turn to for support about a range of topics, including love, depression, and finances. Because of the obligations that close friends and family entail, Small finds that people often avoid turning to these close ties and instead rely on the convenience of people in their orbits. I’m drawn to this book because it contradicts what we think we know about who we talk to about important matters and because it’s such a rich investigation of people’s social ties and under what circumstances they actually turn to the people closest to them.

By Mario Luis Small,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someone To Talk To as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the James Coleman Award for Best Book from the Rationality and Society section of the American Sociological Society
Winner of the Outstanding Recent Contribution from the Social Psychology section of the American Sociological Association
Winner of the Best Publication Award from the Mental Health section of the American Sociological Association
Honorable Mention, PROSE Book Award, Cultural Anthropology and Sociology, from the Association of American Publishers

When people are facing difficulties, they often feel the need for a confidant. How do they decide on whom to rely? In Someone To Talk To, Mario Luis Small follows a group of…


Book cover of Stop the Fight!: An Illustrated Guide for Couples: How to Break Free from the 12 Most Common Arguments and Build a Relationship That Lasts

Joanna Faber and Julie King Author Of How to Talk When Kids Won't Listen: Whining, Fighting, Meltdowns, Defiance, and Other Challenges of Childhood

From my list on to create strong connections in their families.

Who are we?

Joanna Faber is the daughter of Adele Faber, a pioneer of the internationally acclaimed best-selling How To Talk series that has helped millions of parents worldwide. Joanna joined forces with her childhood friend Julie King to provide support for parents and educators of the 21st century. Each draws on her own experiences – Joanna as a bilingual teacher in West Harlem, Julie as a specialist in helping parents of children on the autism spectrum – to lead workshops and speak to parent groups, teachers, doctors, and librarians worldwide, including online sessions to support parents during Covid lockdowns and afterwards. Together, Joanna and Julie have written two best-selling How To Talk books

Joanna and Julie's book list on to create strong connections in their families

Joanna Faber and Julie King Why did Joanna and Julie love this book?

Having children can put stress on a relationship. You COULD make an appointment to see a couples' therapist. Or, you could read Michelle Brody's insightful book.

Her explanations and whimsical diagrams, illustrating how conflicts between couples can escalate, will leave you chuckling with recognition and give you the tools to resolve your differences peacefully.

By Michelle Brody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stop the Fight! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Illustrated Guide for Couples Ends 12 Hurtful Arguments Once and for All!

Conflict within relationships is complex and challenging to overcome. In her 20 years of working with couples, clinical psychologist Michelle Brody found a way to make change simpler. Her secret: clear and lighthearted illustrations that help couples literally see what’s driving their battles and blocking their bond, so they can chart a course together to stop the fights.

The Money Fight
“You’re such a cheapskate!”
“You spend way too much!” The Sex Fight
“Not tonight. I’m not in the mood.”
“You haven’t been in the mood since…


Book cover of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People

Kurt Mortensen Author Of The Laws of Charisma: How to Captivate, Inspire, and Influence for Maximum Success

From my list on how to inspire, influence, and become more charismatic.

Who am I?

Kurt Mortensen is an international authority on charisma, negotiation, and influence. Kurt has spent over 20 years researching influence, leadership, sales, persuasive presentations, and he teaches at the university level. Kurt is the author of Persuasion IQ, Laws of Charisma, and the best-selling book Maximum Influence. His books have been translated into 28 languages. He is also the host of the popular podcast Maximize Your Influence. Mortensen teaches that professional success, personal relationships, and leadership all depend on the ability to persuade, influence, and motivate others. The key is to get others to want to do, what you want them to do and like doing it. 

Kurt's book list on how to inspire, influence, and become more charismatic

Kurt Mortensen Why did Kurt love this book?

Vanessa calls herself a human behavior investigator. She talks about the formula for charisma and how to read people. These critical influence tools help people adapt their ability to bond with people and persuade them how they want to be persuaded. This book gives you the hacks to influence better and faster. I love how she focuses on first impressions. We all know that the first impression is critical to having charisma and connecting with people.

By Vanessa Van Edwards,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Captivate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Do you feel awkward at networking events? Do you wonder what your date really thinks of you? Do you wish you could decode people? You need to learn the science of people.
 
As a human behavior hacker, Vanessa Van Edwards created a research lab to study the hidden forces that drive us. And she’s cracked the code. In Captivate, she shares shortcuts, systems, and secrets for taking charge of your interactions at work, at home, and in any social situation. These aren’t the people skills you learned in school. This is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on…


Book cover of We Can't Talk about That at Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics

Barbara B. Adams PsyD Author Of Women, Minorities, and Other Extraordinary People: The New Path for Workforce Diversity

From my list on workforce diversity that won’t piss you off.

Who am I?

I don’t have a passion for the diversity, equity, and inclusion topic. I have an obligation. When I didn’t see or understand the horrific injustice of systemic oppression, I couldn’t do anything about it. Now that I see it, I cannot ignore it. I’ve become an expert through my work in organizational development. I work with technology, healthcare, financial services and educational services clients around the globe, and in 2016 I founded GAR (Gender, Age, Race) Diversity Consulting. Prior to GAR, I was a director in the National Diversity and Inclusion office at Kaiser Permanente, and I worked for many years as a global management and technology consultant with American Management Systems, Inc (now CGI). 

Barbara's book list on workforce diversity that won’t piss you off

Barbara B. Adams PsyD Why did Barbara love this book?

In the age of Black Lives Matter, and the racial, political, and structural tensions that permeate society, Mary-Frances Winters has written a gift of a book that helps us understand why polarization occurs and how to manage conversations about topics often seen as taboo. She is nothing short of brilliant in explaining how culture embeds itself in people’s perceptions and beliefs. This small yet powerful book provides everything leaders and managers need to learn to create spaces of safety and facilitate dialogue that is meaningful, insightful, and often profound. This is the book we have been waiting for!

By Mary-Frances Winters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Can't Talk about That at Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Instead of shutting down any mention of taboo topics, Mary-Frances Winters shows how to structure intentional conversations about them, so people can safely confront biases and stereotypes and create stronger, more inclusive organizations.

Politics, religion, race - we can't talk about topics like these at work, right? But in fact, these conversations are happening all the time, either in real life or virtually via social media. And if they aren't handled effectively, they can become more polarizing and divisive, impacting productivity, engagement, retention, teamwork, and even employees' sense of safety in the workplace. But you can turn that around and…


Let's Talk about Hard Things

By Anna Sale,

Book cover of Let's Talk about Hard Things: The Life-Changing Conversations That Connect Us

Angie Marie Author Of The Cycle Syncing Handbook: Identify Hormonal Patterns, Build Holistic Habits, and Embrace the Power of Your Menstrual Cycle

From my list on books for women who want to live more creatively/with more creativity.

Who am I?

In my 20s, after always doing what I was “supposed” to, I found myself trapped in a relationship I wanted out of, in a job that barely paid the bills, and in a mindset of scarcity. After my birth control almost killed me, I dove into the mind-body connection that’s often stifled by sexism and societal expectations, becoming fascinated with pushing against the status quo and living more adventurously. I realized I needed to sincerely take my life decisions into my own hands. Since then, I’ve run ultramarathons, become an entrepreneur, and taught countless menstruators how to listen to their own bodies so they can build a life they love.

Angie's book list on books for women who want to live more creatively/with more creativity

Angie Marie Why did Angie love this book?

When my friend’s dad died suddenly from a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, I had no clue how to help. It felt incredibly awkward, risky, and confusing: Do I text her? Give her space? Ask if she wants a hug. Or say the common, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do” (which, it turns out, is not helpful).

Later, I devoured the stories Anna collected about the 5 topics we tend to be hush-hush about death, sex, money, family, and identity. Reading a diverse set of snapshots from the most challenging aspects of being a human made me no longer want to tread lightly around tough conversations. In fact, I want to welcome them.

When my partner’s friend died young, as awkward as it felt to talk about it initially, I knew it was crucial to allow a space to share memories, expose feelings, and verbally process the events. When…

Let's Talk about Hard Things

By Anna Sale,

What is this book about?

From the host of the popular WNYC podcast Death, Sex, & Money, Let&;s Talk About Hard Things is an invitation to discuss the tough topics that all of us encounter.

Anna Sale wants you to have that conversation. You know the one. The one that you&;ve been avoiding or putting off, maybe for years. The one that you&;ve thought &;they&;ll never understand&; or &;do I really want to bring that up?&; or &;it&;s not going to go well, so why even try?&;

Sale is the founder and host of WNYC&;s popular, award-winning podcast Death, Sex, & Money, or as the…


Book cover of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well

Lawrence E. Susskind Author Of Good for You, Great for Me: Finding the Trading Zone and Winning at Win-Win Negotiation

From my list on negotiating for mutual advantage.

Who am I?

I am a Professor at MIT and co-founder of both the inter-university Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School and the not-for-profit Consensus Building Institute that provides help in resolving some of the most complex resource management disputes around the world. I have been teaching negotiation and dispute resolution, doing research about the circumstances under which various negotiation strategies do and don’t work, and offering online training for more than four decades. Given the many negotiations I've observed, I’m convinced that negotiating for mutual advantage is the way to go -- avoid unnecessary conflict, get what you want in all kinds of negotiating situations, and walk away with good working relationships and a solid reputation.

Lawrence's book list on negotiating for mutual advantage

Lawrence E. Susskind Why did Lawrence love this book?

Doug and Sheila start with the assumption that we all want to learn and grow, but at the same time, we also want to be accepted just as we are. That means, we don’t want to be on the receiving end of evaluations, advice, criticism, or coaching that highlight our flaws. Most of us believe that feedback is essential for ensuring healthy relationships and ensuring our professional development, but as they point out, “we dread it and often dismiss it.” They see feedback as a step in the larger process of negotiation. When I try to convince you of something, I need to offer not just a demand, but an argument or evidence that makes sense to you and backs up what I’m saying.

Doug and Sheila have suggestions for how to avoid the traps (“triggers,” they call them) that get in the way of our accepting or even seeking…

By Sheila Heen, Douglas Stone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Thanks for the Feedback as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The coauthors of the New York Times-bestselling Difficult Conversations take on the toughest topic of all: how we see ourselves

Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen have spent the past fifteen years working with corporations, nonprofits, governments, and families to determine what helps us learn and what gets in our way. In Thanks for the Feedback, they explain why receiving feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, offering a simple framework and powerful tools to help us take on life's blizzard of offhand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited input with curiosity and grace. They blend the latest insights from neuroscience and…


Book cover of An Effort to Understand: Hearing One Another (and Ourselves) in a Nation Cracked in Half

Tim Muehlhoff Author Of Winsome Conviction: Disagreeing Without Dividing the Church

From my list on to avoid an argument with someone close.

Who am I?

For the past 30 years I’ve focused on one question: Can individuals who have deep differences come together to cultivate common ground, compassion, and civility? Even with deep differences can we still engage in productive conversations? As an author, professor, and co-director of the Winsome Conviction Project my attempt to answer this question continues. The books I’ve listed have given guidance to not only come up with an answer but more importantly, live it out with those close to me. To hear me put theory into practice, listen to my Winsome Conviction podcast (with co-host Rick Langer) which tackles divisive issues with the hope of bringing diverse people together to talk.  

Tim's book list on to avoid an argument with someone close

Tim Muehlhoff Why did Tim love this book?

As the co-director of the Winsome Conviction Project, I am committed to re-introducing civility back into our public disagreements. However, civility is often a misunderstood concept. Murray does a wonderful job pointing out what civility is not—mere niceness without purpose. He reminds us that civility is not the ultimate goal in our disagreements. Rather, it is a means of communication—rules we can agree on—that allows us to dig deep into the issues which easily separate us. If you find that politics are putting emotional distance between you and those close to you, then this is the book for you.  

By David Murray,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Effort to Understand as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An insightful book packed with wonderful writing, practical advice, and hope for a better, kinder future." —Jonathan Eig, author of Ali: A Life

You're ready to give up. Throw up your hands and walk out the door. You don't know what else to say—to some dear family and close friends, let alone the crazy strangers that seem to populate half the country.

Congratulations: You're ready to read An Effort to Understand.

But don't worry. This is not a book about civility.

Instead, David Murray (blogger, speechwriter, rhetoric authority, and professional curmudgeon) is urging readers to join him in a near-spiritual…


Book cover of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships

Pavini Moray Author Of How to Hold Power: A Somatic Approach to Becoming a Leader People Love and Respect

From my list on creating business relationships that feel alive.

Who am I?

As a human, I struggle with staying connected during conflict. Because conflict naturally shows up in all relationships, I had to figure out how to do it better, or die alone! My path has woven through studying conflict resolution, becoming a relationship therapist, doing deep learning within my own life partnership, and exploring the realm of somatic psychology in my doctoral work. I long for a world where we have the skills we need to work through conflict without resorting to violence. In my dreams, the world is able to coexist with love and conflict. Our relationships thrive when we speak our full truth, and embody our values in action.

Pavini's book list on creating business relationships that feel alive

Pavini Moray Why did Pavini love this book?

The teachings of NVC are essential for those wishing to deepen their compassionate hearts.

NVC has helped my partner and me navigate many difficult conversations while remaining connected, present, and caring. Instead of communication breakdown, NVC teaches a focus on identifying needs and expressing emotions before making a doable request. The skills of this practice are essential building blocks for kind and honest communication. 

By Marshall B. Rosenberg,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Nonviolent Communication as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


5,000,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE • TRANSLATED IN MORE THAN 35 LANGUAGES

What is Violent Communication?
 
If “violent” means acting in ways that result in hurt or harm, then much of how we communicate—judging others, bullying, having racial bias, blaming, finger pointing, discriminating, speaking without listening, criticizing others or ourselves, name-calling, reacting when angry, using political rhetoric, being defensive or judging who’s “good/bad” or what’s “right/wrong” with people—could indeed be called “violent communication.”
 
What is Nonviolent Communication?
 
Nonviolent Communication is the integration of four things:
 
• Consciousness: a set of principles that support living a life of compassion, collaboration, courage, and…


Book cover of Fighting For Your Marriage: A Deluxe Revised Edition of the Classic Best Seller for Enhancing Marriage and Preventing Divorce

Peter Fraenkel Author Of Last Chance Couple Therapy: Bringing Relationships Back from the Brink

From my list on how to improve couple and family relationships.

Who am I?

I’m a Ph.D. clinical psychologist and tenured associate professor at The City College of New York, where I teach couple and family therapy, multicultural issues in psychotherapy, and research methods. I've conducted research on a couple's distress prevention program. I’ve been a licensed therapist for 30+ years working primarily with “last chance couples” – those on the brink of dissolving their relationship. I attended the New England Conservatory of Music, Boston University, where I received my B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy, and obtained my doctorate at Duke University. I have also been on the faculty of Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical Center, and the Ackerman Institute for the Family. I lecture internationally.

Peter's book list on how to improve couple and family relationships

Peter Fraenkel Why did Peter love this book?

This bestselling classic book is designed especially for happy, newlywed or otherwise newly committed couples to teach them research-based communication and problem-solving skills, how to address “hidden” or broader issues like power and control, closeness and caring, respect and recognition, integrity, commitment, trust, and acceptance, which fuel specific conflicts around money, sex, childrearing, housework, in-laws, and others. 

It also provides tips on increasing fun, friendship, and intimacy.  Based on the authors’ decades of testing the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP©), it provides a simple guide to essential ideas and skills that maintain a healthy marriage – skills that many people do not learn in their families growing up. 

I trained with Drs. Markman and Stanley way back in the 90s and brought PREP to NYU Medical Center and ran many couple workshops, and I’ve seen how effective these relationship tools can be for happy couples eager to…

By Howard J. Markman, Scott M. Stanley, Susan L. Blumberg

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fighting For Your Marriage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thorough revision with a new DVD of couples in action, using the PREP method for strengthening marriage and avoiding divorce court The third edition of the best-selling classic on marriage enhancement and divorce prevention, features the latest research and changes of heart in our culture and society. New and revised, Fighting for Your Marriage is based on the widely acclaimed PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program) approach. Groundbreaking studies have found that couples can use the strategies of this approach to handle conflict more constructively, protect their happiness, and reduce the odds of breaking up. The book is based…


Book cover of Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

Richard Newton Author Of The Freelance Consultant: Your Comprehensive Guide to Starting an Independent Business

From my list on for freelance consultants and management consultants.

Who am I?

I am one of those people who has several careers going on at once. I am widely known as a professional writer and have written 18 books, mostly professional and business books, but I have also written in the self-help genre and some fiction. In parallel with this, I am an independent consultant and have run my consultancy business Enixus Limited for almost 20 years helping large organisations worldwide with complex change programmes. Most of my business books weave together my love of writing with my professional interests and experiences.

Richard's book list on for freelance consultants and management consultants

Richard Newton Why did Richard love this book?

Over a number of decades, Schein has been one of the guiding thinkers in professional services and consultancy. His books are always worth reading as the advice is sounds and practical. In this book he talks about how it is better, and more productive, to help people by the practice of asking questions rather than giving answers. The model in the book goes completely against the stereotype of the consultant as a brash and overconfident individual pretending to be an expert who can tell anyone the answer to any question. Instead, Schein proposes a model that would be more familiar to those with a coaching background. It is brilliant advice.

By Edgar H. Schein, Peter A. Schein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Humble Inquiry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This worldwide bestseller offers simple guidance for building the kind of open and trusting relationships vital for tackling global systemic challenges and developing adaptive, innovative organizations—over 200,000 copies sold and translated into seventeen languages!

We live, say Edgar and Peter Schein, in a culture of “tell.” All too often we tell others what we think they need to know or should do. But whether we are leading or following, what matters most is we get to the truth. We have to develop a commitment to sharing vital facts and identifying faulty assumptions—it can mean the difference between success and failure.…