As part of my own journey into being a better version of me I have been reading quite a few books. These are words that, a couple of years ago, I never thought I would say. I read audio books but I do also buy some of the ones I really like so I can flick back for reference. Not the most money savvy way of reading but it works for me.
There are so many books out there on self development and a lot of them make some pretty ‘out there’ claims to change your life. A lot of the books I have read have been written by some amazing people, some experts in their fields. This has really given me a better understanding around what personally holds me back and advice on how to change.
I think it’s important to always remember that just reading the book is just that, just reading the book. It may open your mind and give you very exciting ideas to how your life would look when you make these changes but no amount of reading, on its own, will change anything. We need to actively implement and make these changes. In reality these things which may read as simple can in fact be very challenging.
The books I have read have really given me some useful insights in to changes to make but also a better understanding of what stops me from becoming the person I want to be…. That person namely being me. Not all of what I have read has helped me and not all that I have read will help you, but I don’t think there has been a book that I have read so far, where I haven’t learnt something from.
I thought it would be useful to share some of these book reviews for any of you who are also looking into reading books around self development from a novices (me again) point of view.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (LINK)
This was a book that I had heard about years ago but I was a little put off by knowing that it was written in 1937. After recently going back to university it is ingrained in you that most papers more than 10 years old are basically too old and classed as invalid for reference. Normally books that have been written that far back have been revised to a much more updated version taking in to account more valid research. This book however has basically been left untouched. Could a book this old really have a place when learning about modern day social interactions? Especially knowing how far we have come with modern day technology and written in a day when you didn’t have the brain frazzling dilemma of interpreting what an ‘emoji’ actually means at the end of a text message.
With all this in mind I read it and without sounding a bit ‘OTT’ it has changed the way that I interact and socialise with people completely and the results have been amazing. It takes you back to basics, so basic in fact that it is just common sense. How did I not realise how important some of these basic social skills were? I realised that some of its content I just took for granted. I didn’t realise the importance of remembering somebody’s name for example, but then I thought back to times when somebody I didn’t expect to remember mine actually greeted me on a first name basis and how highly I thought of them for it.
I had always wondered how my friend Neel managed to go into a bar or club and come out with several contacts. He would always know the guy on the door or the manager on such a personal level, even after just a short interaction, that it would only take a quick phone call to one of them and you could get into places that without him would normally be a no go. It had always fascinated me as to what he actually did. Yes, he is an extremely warm and sociable person and spends more money than sense on tequila but there had to be more than that. Then I read this book and realised that he basically is the book.
An encounter like this happened to me not long after reading this book. A year or so ago I had a make over done at Mac, the make-up artist was called Erin and she made me look amazing. But the reason I remembered her name wasn’t purely because of that, it was actually because that name is the name I want to call my child (It’s a bit embarrassing but I am a girl). Then a year later I went into Bobbie Brown for a concealer and a make-up artist came to help me and it was Erin. I looked at her and said ‘Oh hi, its Erin isn’t it’, she was so taken a back she nearly lost the colour in her perfectly made up face. She asked how I knew her and I went on to explain that a year earlier she had done my make-up and it was incredible. Surprised, she could not believe that someone she had such a brief interaction with had taken the time to remember her, and even more so that she had moved shop since and I still remembered. She then sat me down and basically gave me a full makeover, even though I was only buying a concealer, put me on her VIP customer list and offered to do my makeup for my forth coming birthday. When I returned for the birthday makeover she had then made the effort to remember my name and gave me the makeover for free. All because I had remembered her name. Madness!!
The book also talks about how to talk to people about things that they are passionate about and how to word things in a way that sounds like you are doing someone else a favour but actually getting what you want instead.
These are only a few things that this book covers but it is an essential guide for anyone, for networking, business or social relationships. This is a book that I will go back to and reference for the rest of my life. I truly believe it has made me a better nurse with better and more effective relationship with my patients. An absolute must read.
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman (LINK)
I was interested to read this book as Daniel Goleman is an expert in the field in emotional intelligence. He has spent his life researching and studying social interactions. He talks about truly believing that emotional intelligence is a greater asset than academic intelligence.
As I have stated before, I listen to audio books and Ill be honest in saying that listening to this audiobook wasn’t the easiest or most enjoyable of reads. Mainly because the audio version sounds like an American post war radio broadcast and it is very dense in psychological theory with a lot of words I had to google to understand. It is also a very long audiobook taking nearly 14 hours to complete so I do feel you need to have a particular interest in the subject matter to follow it through to the end.
The content of the book did however give me a greater understanding into my own emotions, why I got frustrated and upset around things that the logical part of my brain told me were trivial. It helped me to understand why I had particular fears and how and why they were due to learnt experience and how you can overcome these – a useful tool.
It also hit a particular poignancy for me when it talked about how schools focus so much on academia and don’t teach children to fully understand their own emotions and of those around them. I know this from personal experience working in hospitals. Due to the emotive nature of my job there have been times where some of the health professionals I have worked with have been less trusted by patients, not because of their lack of knowledge but because they fail in interacting with patients and understanding their feeling or anxieties.
I have often been there to pick up the pieces of a failed social interaction between health professional and patient where the patient has been given very accurate and factual information but the information hasn’t been given in either a sensitive manner or given in a way that the patient doesn’t actually understand. This is often because the person giving the information hasn’t gauged the person they are talking to or their current emotional state.
By having a greater emotional intelligence and understanding people better can go a long way to opening doors professionally as well as helping us to succeed in our personal relationships.
This book has helped me to understand the way the brain works for emotions and ways to be more in control of both mine and others emotions as well, adapting myself to the person I am talking to. I believe that some people are naturally better at emotional intelligence but I also believe that it is something that can be learnt. Really interesting as a book but not a light hearted read put it that way.