Our Communications & Publicity Manager, Emily Porter, dives into the Personal Development & Human Behavior Longlist selections.
We move through the world impacting the lives around us, whether they be in our personal lives or within our professional lives. So, it is crucial to be able to see the world through others’ eyes and to better see our own self, not only for our businesses we work in but for the world we call home and for our communities. This category looks at the way we can develop our inner selves, and how we can impact the world around us and other lives by understanding our peers’ perspectives and behavior—and our own. If ever there were a time to dive into these books, the time is now. All the books below gave me a thump in my heart while reading, and the voices authoring these powerful books cover issues and topics that will guide us in our personal development and allow us to understand human behavior. I genuinely believe that all businesses and individuals should pick up these books to broaden their minds. They all impacted the way I look at the business world, showing a more human approach—looking within ourselves and our businesses and seeing the raw humanity of being, well, human.
An Ordinary Age: Finding Your Way in a World That Expects Exceptional by Rainesford Stauffer, Harper Perennial
Being an adult today can be incredibly difficult, especially for those who are new to the title. Today, that includes those labeled Millennials and Gen Z, which includes me, my peers, and many of my colleagues. From past generations, we are taught to work harder than everyone else, to do what we need to do to climb to the top, but also to find something we love so we never have to work a day in our life. All these lofty and conflicting expectations taken together can be too much. How do you make sure you have enough experience to find your way to your dream job, while paying off your bills and making rent to survive, when order to get that experience, you’re told you need an internship that does not pay? It is an impossibility unless you have someone else sending you money, which includes very few of us. While this book sheds light on the almost impossible expectations that are laid out for the generations coming up, it is also a book that allows the generations working with the ones coming behind them to see through their eyes. Stauffer explains the difficulties and hardships of coming into adulthood in an age where everything is expected to be perfect, from one’s resume to their Instagram. But who do we become when we release all the titles we have been given (or are chasing) and allow ourselves to be who we are, while growing into and who we want to be without the suffocating script? Rainesford Stauffer will have Gen Z’s and Millennials nodding along, and will give all other generations a greater understanding of the stresses their coworkers, peers, and children are handling.
Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It by Ethan Kross, Crown
For better or worse, during lockdown many of us found the volume of our inner voice amplified. Ethan Kross, a professor at the University of Michigan and a leading expert in controlling the conscious mind, dives deep into the ins-and-outs of what makes our inner voice so important and how to harness it to have a more meaningful life. Working inward can be the most trying obstacle in the relationship we have with ourselves. Our inner voice, or “chatter,” is the basis of our existence. It helps us navigate our relationships, establishes our confidence level and our sense of self, and can even impact our health. It also effects the way we communicate and act outwardly at work and elsewhere, including on social media. And, of course, this year our inner voice is guiding us in how to overcome the trauma of the past two years and how to become more social beings once again as we reconnect with the wider world outside. Chatter is an eye-opening, instructional book that pushes us to think about how we can change our impact on the world by being more mindful of the chatter within ourselves—by listening to and harnessing our inner voice.
Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust & Connection, No Matter the Distance by Erica Dhawan, St Martin's Press
Everyone has opened an email or text that immediately triggered their anxiety, requiring a careful rereading of each word to decipher the tone and decide how to respond. In our digital age, where working and communicating remotely are a part of the everyday working environment, we miss the subtle cues—like tone of voice and body language—that signal others’ mood and intent. Time and time again I have had a friend or colleague ask me for advice, or felt the need to ask their advice, about a cryptic or indecipherable email or text that someone rushed off to us. It can easily snowball into a half-hour-long discussion of the relationship we have with the sender and their personality, as we attempt to make a sound judgement before sending a dreaded response out into the ether. Erica Dhawan has graced us with a guide on how to go about correcting that problem in our digital communications by improving our digital body language. Through examples of everyday predicaments that most of us have experienced, we learn how to compose ourselves through our digital devices, which allows us to build easier understanding, respect, and trust. Reading through the examples she shares was eye-opening, and her advice made me look hard at how I communicate with my own colleagues and loved ones. Taking the extra time to type out a thorough and clear response can save anxiety for the reader, but also sends an underlying message of respect. Digital Body Language is a book that will help individuals in business and in everyday life bridge the communication gap between our digital and in-person lives.
The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change by Michelle MiJung Kim, Hachette Go
We live in a world quick to criticize people who get things wrong, especially on the topics of race and gender bias. And while outright bigotry should be called out when we see it, none of us is perfect in our understanding, even those of us who consider ourselves educated on the reality of these subjects. People make mistakes, and we all have a lot to learn. Seeking the knowledge and learning that enables us to become more well versed on everyday forms of oppression, and to better understand those around us, is important for us all. Michelle MiJung Kim, CEO and Co-Founder of Awaken, an organization that helps “empower leaders and teams to lead inclusively and authentically,” has an ample amount of experience in facilitating such understanding and bringing clarity to why we must address such things at work—in ways both big and (seemingly) small. For example, many companies have added preferred pronouns to their email signatures but, if asked, would an individual on staff or even the company itself know why they do this? It is important for acts like these to be based in an understanding of why they are necessary. The best weapon for fighting ignorance and oppression is the act of acquiring such knowledge. This book is full of information I was ignorant to before. And I believe that everyone and every company can learn a thing or two (or twenty) by reading this necessary text on how to navigate the world with the many wonderful and diverse people who reside in it. All we need to do is wake up.
The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t by Julia Galef, Portfolio
We humans can be closed-minded and set in our ways. Even when facts to the contrary appear, we often persist in what we want to believe instead of accepting the hard facts staring us in the face. We believe in our own rationale, not seeing the potential flaws and holes in our thinking or the information we are taking in—or taking the time to consider information that might challenge it. Julia Galef, host of the Rationally Speaking podcast and acclaimed rationality expert, dives into how and why we will do everything in our power to support our existing beliefs rather than accept objective reality. We have seen this play out in the wider world these past few years, but it also something that stunts our growth as individuals and in our relationships at work and at home. Galef believes it is essential to understand how and why we are programmed into a “soldier mindset,” and with that knowledge learn to live with a “scout mindset” to help us understand our own mind and other individuals. In the book, we venture through the evolutionary impetus for the “soldier mindset,” which is when we are stuck in our ways, unwilling to back down from our core principals or beliefs. Then we learn how to cultivate “scout mindset,” with which we invite in information that can alter our map of what we know to be real, welcoming current ideas and forming an opinion without being stuck in previous beliefs. This book helps us understand, on a deeper level, the deep divides in our world today. Those who pick it up will leave with more open eyes and minds.