Cortlandt Software

Recommended Books on
"People Skills"

And the rest is "Intuitively Obvious"

Technical professionals tend to avoid books on so-called 'soft topics'.   And not without reason.  Too many books, articles, and presentation on communication and people skills make several mistakes.    Some offer good advice without much 'down and dirty' content.   Others seem to be written by and for folks from the HR (human relations) department.   Finally, most sources are weak on practical, actionable direction on what to do and say.  

Professionals of all kinds are right to be suspicious of advise that is not actionable.   Books like Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessions in Personal Change, for example, rate as only so-so by my criteria.    Practical and actionable content weighs heavily in my recommendations.

How do you develop "people skills"?


Quality Software Management:  (Volume 3)  Congruent Action

by Gerald M. Weinberg

I often read and hear the exhortation to "develop people skills".    Employers put "good communication skills" in their job requirements.   This is sound advise to computing professionals. Only one element is left out.   Exactly how does a computing professional go about developing people and communication skills?  Jerry Weinberg suggests that the process starts with knowing oneself and acting consistently with yourself, that is, congruent action.   Congruent action has surprising results.  In difficult situations, congruent action frees up the mind to think more clearly about technical problems.

This is a solid book on an important topic.  Weinberg writes from the perspective of one who has been in the trenches.  Weinberg combines a Ph.D in psychology with a years of experience as a programmer and technical project manager.   No matter however well the book is written the topic is a uncomfortable and unfamiliar one to technical professionals.  I predict that most professionals will not read this kind of book.   That's not all bad.   The need is so large and the supply so small that any computing professional who merely starts down this path will be way ahead of the pack.    - reviewed by Cortlandt Wilson

What difference does Choice make?

It seems that some marketers recognize the importance of choice in human relations.   I have not read this book (yet) but's review of Permission Marketing said:
"Today consumers are bombarded by marketing messages almost everywhere they go. If you want to grab someone's attention, you first need to get his or her permission with some kind of bait--a free sample, a big discount, a contest, an 800 number, or even just an opinion survey. Once a customer volunteers his or her time, you're on your way to establishing a long-term relationship and making a sale. "By talking only to volunteers, Permission Marketing guarantees that consumers pay more attention to the marketing message," he writes. "It serves both customers and marketers in a symbiotic exchange." 
I am not recommending the book at this time but I believe the ideas are important.

coverPermission Marketing : Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers
by Seth Godin,  forward by Don Peppers 



On my "to read" list

First, Break All the Rules : What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently
by Marcus Buckingham, Curt Coffman

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Last Updated: April 06, 2006 05:35