20 Books on Communication in the Workplace

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Communication in the workplace is what we all do, day in, day out. Our ability to communicate with colleagues makes the difference between people taking us seriously, doing what we ask (without too much hassling) and our ability to influence others.

So it is worth spending some time thinking about how to improve your communication skills for work. Books are a great way to learn different techniques and see how others use their skills.

Here are my suggestions of the best books on communication in the workplace.

1. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler (McGraw-Hill)

With over 5 million copies sold, and thousands of reviews on Amazon, this one is probably already on your manager’s shelf.

You might think from the title that it’s just about having difficult conversations at work with other people but there is also a section on how to respond when someone starts a crucial conversation with you – always best to give some thought to how you might react!

Make sure you get the latest edition of this book as it has been updated to reflect communication via digital tools.

Best for: Learning how to keep a conversation on track, even when it doesn’t go the way you want

2. Message Not Received: Why Business Communication is Broken and How to Fix It

Phil Simon (Wiley)

My copy of this book is well-thumbed and it’s a fact-packed, well-researched book. Simon focuses on making sure you understand how to translate jargon into words that people can actually understand and use.

The section on life beyond email is still relevant, but your workplace might feel collaborative in different ways since the pandemic that began in 2020.

Best for: Understanding why communication in the workplace is failing and what you can do about it

3. Shut Up And Listen: Communication with Impact

Theo Theobald and Cary Cooper (Palgrave Macmillan)

This book will help you understand the kind of communicator you are. It covers listening, persuasion, reading, writing and talking but probably more about writing than any other kind of comms. Given how much writing we do for communication at work, that’s probably a good thing.

The book’s chapter on ‘rules of the tools’ feels a bit dated now, but the vast majority of the book is solid, practical ‘how to’ style advice that will help you communicate with confidence.

Best for: Practical ‘how to’ tips

4. Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work

Roberta Chinsky Matuson (Kogan Page)

This book outlines how to create the right conditions for a worthwhile and meaningful discussion – even when the stakes are high and workplace conversations are tricky. It includes examples and tips from people who have navigated difficult conversations and made it out the other side (as well as examples from people who didn’t).

Consider this book your guide to preparing, starting and having those tricky conversations at work.

Best for: Preparing for difficult conversations

5. Human-Centered Communication: A Business Case Against Digital Pollution

Ethan Beute and Stephen Pacinelli (Greenleaf)

If you spend a lot of time on Zoom or Microsoft Teams then you’ll be familiar with virtual working. The noise from these platforms can distract from the meaningful conversations we have to have at work.

This book argues that the only way to build relationships and secure revenue for the organization is to be more intentional and personal. The authors provide guidance on how to do that with a range of colleagues, stakeholders and customers so you can be more successful with your workplace communication.

Best for: Learning how to be clearer and more confident in a virtual environment

6. Neurodiversity at Work: Drive Innovation, Performace and Productivity with a Neurodiverse Workforce

Theo Smith and Amanda Kirby (Kogan Page)

This isn’t strictly a book about communication in the workplace, but it is a book about people and how to make sure your workplace is accessible to all.

Often, the way we communicate prevents some individuals from doing their best work, because the workplace is not set up to support different ways of working and thinking. This book opened my eyes to the needs of my colleagues. Hopefully it has made me a better communicator.

Best for: Understanding diverse communication needs

7. How to Fix Meetings: Meet Less, Focus on Outcomes and Get Stuff Done

Graham Allcott and Hayley Watts (Icon Books)

So much workplace communication takes place in meetings, so it is worth taking a bit of time to understand how to get the best out of them. In short, Allcott and Watts recommend having fewer meetings and they provide techniques and strategies to help achieve that.

If you find yourself in back-to-back meetings all day this book will give you back some time in the week by helping you rethink how you use your time.

It includes the best meeting agenda template I have ever seen, so that will definitely help you communicate expectations about meetings effectively!

Best for: Running effective meetings

8. Ultimate Presentations : Master the Art of Giving Fantastic Presentations and Wowing Employers

Jay Surti (Kogan Page)

I have read a lot of books on presentation skills. This one really is comprehensive, covering the use of presentation skills for job interviews and speaking on the phone as well as presentations at work, as pitches and on a ‘big’ stage.

I found the book easy to read and I learned some tips.

Best for: Communicating via presentations of all kinds

9. Effective Communication at Work: Speaking and Writing Well in the Modern Workplace

Vicki McLeod (Rockridge Press)

This book covers why communicating well at work is important (doh), speaking and writing professionally as well as how communication helps you build workplace relationships and connect with others. There are self-assessment tools built in to help you understand your own communication style and that of your company.

Best for: General introduction to communication at work

10. The First Minute: How to Start Conversations That Get Results

Chris Fenning (Alignment Group)

You’ll know that first impressions are made in an instant, and how you start off a conversation is important too. I know that stumbling through the first sentences of a phone call puts me on the back foot for the whole discussion, so getting it right from the beginning makes a difference to how confidently you can talk to others.

We also spend a fair amount of time talking to busy people: senior execs and colleagues who don’t have time to listen to waffle. Learn how to get to the point with this book, by being action-focused in your communication.

Best for: Learning how to prepare and get to the point quickly

11. How to Write Clearly: Write with Purpose, Reach Your Reader and Make Your Meaning Crystal Clear

Tom Albrighton (ABC Business Communications)

There are no secrets, no tricks and no shortage of books about writing, but this one is a good one. It’s reassuringly unfluffy and I appreciate the recognition of the fact that language has changed. We need to use the right words to explain new ideas and relate to our readers.

This is a clear, easy-to-read book (as you’d expect) about business writing that focuses on clear thinking as the driver to being understood.

Best for: Improving your written communication

12. Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage and Influence

Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann

Make sure you get the latest edition of this bestseller, because it has been updated for virtual teams. If you are leading a virtual team in any capacity, communication will be how you spend most of your day.

This book is aimed at leaders and has the goal of helping them develop a communication style that is strategic yet actionable. In other words, how to help your team do their best work by not getting in their way with waffle and hard-to-understand directions.

Best for: Team leaders and managers

13. Surrounded by Idiots: The 4 Types of Human Behaviour and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)

Thomas Erikson

This book was recommended to me, and it’s not one I’d want to leave on my desk at work!

If you struggle to make yourself understood and you can’t connect with your colleagues, then this book is for you. It introduces a simple way of assessing personalities and will help you identify four personality types. Once you understand what personality type most closely matches your difficult colleague, you’ll be able to adjust how you communicate to be more effective.

There are also tips on body language and team dynamics, so it’s an all-around useful book for people working with teams at work.

Best for: Finding common ground with your colleagues if you can’t seem to get your message across

14. Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond

Jay Sullivan (Wiley)

This is quite an old book now, but it’s still popular. It’s full of guidance and tips that will help you get your message across. The underlying point the book makes is that if you focus on your audience and not on yourself, you can be a more powerful communicator. It’s not rocket science, and a lot of the titles in this list of books on communication in the workplace share that message.

However, this book might be a good match for you and it’s a good introduction to making sure your messages get across at work.

Best for: Understanding how to present complex messages

15. How to Own the Room

Viv Groskop (Bantam Press)

Given that the author is a stand up comedian, this book is fun, meaningful and will change how you think about showing up to speak in any situation. It covers creating presence, pace, speaking with conviction and more, using famous women to highlight communication skills that anyone can develop.

Get the latest version as that includes a section on ‘how to own the Zoom’ which is a crucial skill for people who spend a lot of time in virtual meetings!

Best for: People who want to communicate at work without anxiety

16. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation

Deborah Tannen (William Morrow)

This book is positively ancient now, but it was a New York Times bestseller and one of the most influential books on my reading list at university. I remember chunks of it now, many years later, and unfortunately most of what I recall still happens in workplace conversations. Women are still interrupted more than men, for example.

This is a classic book and while it’s not specifically about work, it will help you understand some of the linguistic differences you see with colleagues so you can recognize, manage and sometimes call out what is happening when men and women talk together.

Best for: Understanding communication styles between men and women

17. Being Present: Commanding Attention at Work (and at Home) by Managing your Social Presence

Jeanine W Turner (Georgetown University Press)

This book about communication at work presents the interesting idea that we are multicommunicating now. As a parent who is often trying to answer a child, have a conversation with my spouse, and do some other kind of phone-based message at the same time, I know what she means!

The book will help you understand the challenges in professional communications when we are ‘always on’ and there is no break from the virtual environment. The author helps you understand the options for a healthier relationship with online communication so you understand your communication choices and how to apply them.

It’s full of tips and strategies as well as the theory, and you’ll come away from the book having reflected on your social presence and how to navigate it.

Best for: People addicted to their phones!

18. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

Amy Cuddy (Orion)

This is a book about body language, which is a crucial part to confident workplace conversations. It’s a book that helps you realize that how you feel changes how other people see you. By redirecting your thoughts, you can influence how others perceive your communication style and confidence levels, even if you say nothing different.

If you haven’t watched Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on power poses, watch that first, and then if you think her style resonates with you, get the book.

Best for: Understanding body language and its influence on positive communication

19. Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication

Vanessa Van Edwards (Penguin)

No, this isn’t a book about how to find your life partner at work. It’s about the cues you give off during communication that other people interpret as a sign of warmth and confidence (which is Van Edwards’ formula for charisma).

Learn how to send cues purposefully to create impact. It covers a mixture of verbal, visual, and vocal cues, which makes it an interesting book to partner with Amy Cuddy’s body language book. Read it to get some insider tips on how to convey power, leadership, likability, and trustworthiness.

Best for: Levelling up your communication skills

20. How to Talk to Anyone at Work

Leil Lowndes

This book is filled with 72 easy to implement tips on communication at work. It covers confidence, caring, clarity, credibility, coexistance. It is filled with real life examples and stories.

Best for: Anyone at any level looking to improve their communication at work


You’ve got to the end of my list of books on communication skills at work, so I hope you’ve found something that will be your next buy! Find me on Instagram (@rebelsguidetopm) and let me know which one you are reading next!

Where to find all the books

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

Learn how to keep a conversation on track, even when it doesn't go the way that you want.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Message not Received: Why Business Communication is Broken and How to Fix It

Understand why communication in the workplace is failing and what you can do about it.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Shut Up and Listen: Communication with Impact

Practical how-to tips on communication in this book by Theo Theobald and Cary Cooper.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Can We Talk? Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work

This book by Roberta Chinsky Matuson is perfect for preparing for difficult conversations.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Human Centered Communication - A Business Case Against Digital Pollution

Learn how to be more clear and confident in digital meetings from this book by Ethan Beute and Stephen Pacinelli.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Neurodiversity at Work: Drive Innovation, Performace and Productivity with a Neurodiverse Workforce

This book by Theo Smith and Amanda Kirby will help you understand diverse communication needs.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
How to Fix Meetings: Meet Less, Focus on Outcomes and Get Stuff Done

Learn how to run effective meetings with this book by Graham Allcott and Hayley Watts.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Ultimate Presentations : Master the Art of Giving Fantastic Presentations and Wowing Employers

Learn how to communicate through presentations of all kinds in this book by Jay Surti.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Effective Communication at Work: Speaking and Writing Well in the Modern Workplace

This book is great for understanding your communication style and that of your company.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
The First Minute: How to Start Conversations That Get Results

This book by Chris Fenning teaches you how to prepare and get to the point quickly.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
How to Write Clearly: Write with purpose, reach your reader and make your meaning crystal clear
£14.95

This is a clear, easy-to-read book (as you’d expect) about business writing that focuses on clear thinking as the driver to being understood.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
12/03/2022 04:50 am GMT
Mastering Communication at Work: How to Lead, Manage and Influence

This book is aimed at leaders and has the goal of helping them develop a communication style that is strategic yet actionable.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Surrounded by Idiots: The 4 Types of Human Behaviour and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life)

This book by Thomas Erikson is great for finding common ground with your colleagues if you can’t seem to get your message across.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond

This book by Jay Sullivan will help make sure your messages get across at work.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
How to Own the Room

Learn how to communicate at work without anxiety.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation

This is a classic book and while it’s not specifically about work, it will help you understand some of the linguistic differences you see with colleagues so you can recognize, manage and sometimes call out what is happening when men and women talk together.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Being Present: Commanding Attention at Work and at Home

The author helps you understand the options for a healthier relationship with online communication so you understand your communication choices and how to apply them.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges

This book by Amy Cuddy will help you understand body language and its influence on positive communication.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
Cues: Master the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication

Level up your communication skills with this book by Vanessa Van Edwards.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad
How to Talk to Anyone at Work: 72 Little Tricks for Big Success Communicating on the Job

This book by Leil Lowndes is perfect for anyone at any level looking to improve their communication at work.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you #ad

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