A "reading recipe" for a relationship in trouble combined with a desire to improve my emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
1. The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute
Amazon.com Review: What if conflicts at home, conflicts at work, and conflicts in the world stem from the same root cause? And what if individually and collectively we systematically misunderstand that cause, and unwittingly perpetuate the very problems we think we are trying to solve?
Through an intriguing story of parents struggling with their troubled children and with their own personal problems, The Anatomy of Peace shows how to get past the preconceived ideas and self-justifying reactions that keep us from seeing the world clearly and dealing with it effectively. Yusuf al-Falah, an Arab, and Avi Rozen, a Jew, each lost his father at the hands of the other's ethnic cousins. As the story unfolds, we discover how they came together, how they help warring parents and children to come together, and how we too can find our way out of the struggles that weigh us down. The choice between peace and war lies within us. As one of the characters says, "A solution to the inner war solves the outer war as well." This book offers more than hope — it shows how we can prevent the conflicts that cause so much pain in our lives and in the world.
2. Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
Amazon.com Review: Using the story/parable format so popular these days, Leadership and Self-Deception takes a novel psychological approach to leadership. It's not what you do that matters, say the authors (presumably plural--the book is credited to the esteemed Arbinger Institute), but why you do it. Latching onto the latest leadership trend won't make people follow you if your motives are selfish--people can smell a rat, even one that says it's trying to empower them. The tricky thing is, we don't know that our motivation is flawed. We deceive ourselves in subtle ways into thinking that we're doing the right thing for the right reason. We really do know what the right thing to do is, but this constant self-justification becomes such an ingrained habit that it's hard to break free of it--it's as though we're trapped in a box, the authors say.
Learning how the process of self-deception works--and how to avoid it and stay in touch with our innate sense of what's right--is at the heart of the book. We follow Tom, an old-school, by-the-book kind of guy who is a newly hired executive at Zagrum Corporation, as two senior executives show him the many ways he's "in the box," how that limits him as a leader in ways he's not aware of, and of course how to get out. This is as much a book about personal transformation as it is about leadership per se. The authors use examples from the characters' private as well as professional lives to show how self-deception skews our view of ourselves and the world and ruins our interactions with people, despite what we sincerely believe are our best intentions.
While the writing won't make John Updike lose any sleep, the story entertainingly does the job of pulling the reader in and making a potentially abstruse argument quite enjoyable. The authors have a much better ear for dialogue than is typical of the genre (the book is largely dialogue), although a certain didactic tone creeps in now and then. But ultimately it's a hopeful, even inspiring read that flows along nicely and conveys a message that more than a few managers need to hear. --Pat McGill
3. Getting Real by Susan Campbell, Ph.D.
Amazon.com Review: Everyone values honest communication, yet few people possess the requisite skills. Susan Campbell provides simple yet practical awareness practices culled from her 35-year career as a relationship coach and corporate consultant that require individuals to let go of the need to be right, safe, and certain. Such questions as In what areas of my life do I feel the need to lie, sugarcoat, or pretend? help guide the reader toward self-realization. The ten truth skills include Letting Yourself Be Seen, Taking Back Projections, Saying No, Welcoming Feedback, Expressing Taboo Thoughts and Emotions, Revising an Earlier Statement, Holding Differences, Sharing Mixed Emotions, and Embracing the Silence of Not Knowing.
4. Mind Performance Hacks by Ron Hale-Evans
Amazon.com Review: You're smart. This book can make you smarter. "Mind Performance Hacks" provides real-life tips and tools for overclocking your brain and becoming a better thinker. In the increasingly frenetic pace of today's information economy, managing your life requires hacking your brain. With this book, you'll cut through the clutter and tune up your brain intentionally, safely, and productively.
5. Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
Amazon.com Review: Working With Emotional Intelligence takes the concepts from Daniel Goleman's bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, into the workplace. Business leaders and outstanding performers are not defined by their IQs or even their job skills, but by their "emotional intelligence": a set of competencies that distinguishes how people manage feelings, interact, and communicate. Analyses done by dozens of experts in 500 corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide conclude that emotional intelligence is the barometer of excellence on virtually any job. This book explains what emotional intelligence is and why it counts more than IQ or expertise for excelling on the job. It details 12 personal competencies based on self-mastery (such as accurate self-assessment, self-control, initiative, and optimism) and 13 key relationship skills (such as service orientation, developing others, conflict management, and building bonds). Goleman includes many examples and anecdotes--from Fortune 500 companies to a nonprofit preschool--that show how these competencies lead to or thwart success.
Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can keep growing--it continues to develop with life experiences. Understanding and raising your emotional intelligence is essential to your success and leadership potential. This book is an excellent resource for learning how to accomplish this. --Joan Price
6. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John M.Gottman and Nan Silver
Amazon.com Review: According to most relationship books, the key to a solid marriage is communication, communication, communication. Phooey, says John Gottman, Ph.D., author of the much-lauded Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. There's much more to a solid, "emotionally intelligent" marriage than sharing every feeling and thought, he points out--though most couples therapists ineffectively (and expensively) harp on these concepts.
Gottman, the director of the Gottman Institute, has found through studying hundreds of couples in his "love lab" that it only takes five minutes for him to predict--with 91 percent accuracy--which couples will eventually divorce. He shares the four not-so-obvious signs of a troubled relationship that he looks for, using sometimes amusing passages from his sessions with married couples. (One standout is Rory, the pediatrician who didn't know the name of the family dog because he spent so much time at work.)
Gottman debunks many myths about divorce (primary among them that affairs are at the root of most splits). He also reveals surprising facts about couples who stay together. They do engage in screaming matches.
And they certainly don't resolve every problem. "Take Allan and Betty," he writes. "When Allan gets annoyed at Betty, he turns on ESPN. When Betty is upset with him, she heads for the mall. Then they regroup and go on as if nothing's happened. Never in forty-five years of marriage have they sat down to have a 'dialogue' about their relationship." While this may sound like a couple in trouble, Gottman found that they pass the love-lab tests and say honestly that "they are both very satisfied with their relationship and they love each other deeply."
Through a series of in-depth quizzes, checklists, and exercises, similar to the ones he uses in his workshops, Gottman provides the framework for coping with differences and strengthening your marriage. His profiles of troubled couples rescued from the brink of divorce (including that of Rory, the out-of-touch doctor) and those of still-happy couples who reinvigorate their relationships are equally enlightening. --Erica Jorgensen
7. Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship by John M. Gottman, Julie Schwartz Gottman, Joan Declaire
Amazon.com Review: In 1994, Dr. John Gottman and his colleagues at the University of Washington made a startling announcement: Through scientific observation and mathematical analysis, they could predict—with more than 90 percent accuracy—whether a marriage would succeed or fail. The only thing they did not yet know was how to turn a failing marriage into a successful one, so Gottman teamed up with his clinical psychologist wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, to develop intervention methods. Now the Gottmans, together with the Love Lab research facility, have put these ideas into practice. In Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, the Gottmans share this vital information so that couples can develop the skills to turn their relationship problems around and create strong, lasting unions.
What emerged from the Gottmans’ collaboration and decades of research is a body of advice that’s based on two surprisingly simple truths: Happily married couples behave like good friends, and they handle their conflicts in gentle, positive ways. The authors offer an intimate look at ten couples who have learned to work through potentially destructive problems—extramarital affairs, workaholism, parenthood adjustments, serious illnesses, lack of intimacy—and examine what they’ve done to improve communication and get their marriages back on track.
Giving an insider’s view of the Love Lab, the Gottmans take the reader step-by-step through the couples’ conversations, before and after they are counseled. The authors also provide an analysis of the couples’ interactions, identifying their core problems and offering suggestions for resolving them. By “listening” to the discussions in this way, you will learn to detect the most common stumbling blocks of a relationship and—most important—how to avoid them.
Hundreds of thousands have seen their relationships improve thanks to the Gottmans’ work. Whether you want to make a strong relationship more fulfilling or rescue one that’s headed for disaster, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage is essential reading.
8. 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married by Linda and Charlie Bloom
Amazon.com Review: With the divorce rate spiking at a dizzying 60 percent, it’s safe to assume that young couples and experienced partners alike may lack the skills and understanding necessary to sustain a committed relationship. Psychotherapists Linda and Charlie Bloom present 101 techniques delivering practical guidance and make it clear that, regardless of past experience, anyone can develop the basic strengths, skills, and capacities needed for a great relationship. Each lesson is presented as a simple, one-line thought followed by an explanation using real life examples — from the authors' own experiences in sustaining their marriage of 31 years to those of the thousands of couples they've professionally counseled or who have taken the Blooms' life relationship seminars. This book demonstrates how anyone can find ways out of a painful relationship, and how couples can enrich their own relationships through working through love's challenges.
9. Receiving Love - Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself by Loved by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. and Helen LaKelley Hunt, Ph.D.
Amazon.com Review: Harville Hendrix has illuminated the paths to loving, long-lasting relationships in his New York Times bestsellers Getting the Love You Want and Keeping the Love You Find. Now, with coauthor and wife Helen LaKelly Hunt, he brings us to a new understanding about one of the most complicated issues facing couples today: Receiving Love.
Many men and women know how to give love, but many more undermine their relationships by never having learned how to accept it. We don't always realize the ways in which we reject appreciation and affection, help and guidance from our romantic partners. And, according to Hendrix and Hunt, until we are able to understand the meaning behind our behavior, our relationships stand to suffer.
10. And Baby Makes Three by John M.Gottman, Ph.D. and Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D.
Amazon.com Review: Congratulations! You have a new baby. Don’t forget you also have a marriage.
Having a baby is a joyous experience, but even the best relationships are strained during the transition from duo to trio. In And Baby Makes Three, Love Lab™ experts John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman teach couples the skills needed to maintain healthy marriages, so partners can avoid the pitfalls of parenthood by:
• Focusing on intimacy and romance • Replacing an atmosphere of criticism and irritability with one of appreciation • Preventing postpartum depression • Creating a home environment that nurtures physical, emotional, and mental health, as well as cognitive and behavioral development for your baby
Complete with exercises that separate the “master” from the “disaster” couples, And Baby Makes Three helps new parents positively manage the strain that comes along with their bundle of joy.
11. Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D.
Amazon.com Review: Love is Letting Go of Fear remains one of the seminal works in the transpersonal movement. Gerald Jampolskys timeless message may be even more timely today: the only thing that stands between us and the awesome energy of love is fear. To live without fear, we must stop analyzing it, stop agonizing over it, stop fighting with it, and let it go. Here are 12 daily, progressive lessons for personal transformation.