In reverse order, these are my selections for the best books on influencing others:
# 5 – The Speed of Trust (Covey, 2008)
Trust is so integral to our relationships that we often take it for granted, yet in these crazy times, we need to nurture and value trust more than ever. Drawing on anecdotes and business cases from his years as CEO of the Covey Leadership Center, the author effectively reminds us that there’s plenty of room for improvement on this most essential of all traits. Covey outlines 13 behaviors of trust-inspiring leaders, such as demonstrating respect, creating transparency, righting wrongs, delivering results and practicing accountability. In my mind, this is a perfect primer for influencing others – after all, getting people to do what you want them to do is pretty hard without trust.
# 4 – Influencing Others (Silberman & Hansburg, 2000)
This is probably the most “how-to” of the books on this list. The authors have written numerous books on a variety of business relationship-oriented subjects. This book provides practical advice for managers and leaders who have to influence up, down and across the organization.
# 3 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Cialdini, 2006)
Don’t be too fooled by the “psychology” term here – this is a practical book with great advice for anyone in business. Cialdini introduces you to six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. Each principle is backed by social scientific testing, and is filled with examples and anecdotes that you’ll recognize. Influencing really is persuading, when you get right down to it, and this book paints a broad picture of how to effectively persuade others.
# 2 – Crucial Conversations (Patterson, et al 2002)
Crucial conversations are interpersonal exchanges at work or at home that we dread having but know we cannot avoid. This popular book offers a seven-point strategy for achieving productive conversations that inevitably arise in our professional and personal lives. The techniques in this book are geared toward getting people to lower their defenses, create mutual respect and understanding, increase emotional safety, and encourage freedom of expression. Among other things, readers also learn about the four main factors that characterize crucial conversations; I include it here because I think influencing others starts with getting your own foundation firmly set, and this book helps you work through any high impact situation with confidence.
# 1 – How to Win Friends & Influence People (Carnegie, 1998)
This is the grand-daddy of all self-help books, first published in 1937. It was an overnight hit, eventually selling 15 million copies, and is just as relevant today (this is an updated version of the original) as it was over 70 years ago. Carnegie believed success was 85% due to “the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people.” He teaches underlying principles of appreciation and influence and offers lessons that could have been written today such as “seeing the situation from the other person’s point of view.” As fascinating as it is to read for its timeless advice, it’s also just a really sensible book on the subject.
There you go – that’s the list. Let me know if I missed one!