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People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts
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People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,537 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Improve your personal and professional relationships instantly with this timeless guide to communication, listening skills, body language, and conflict resolution.

Maybe a wall of silent resentment has shut you off from someone you love. Maybe you listen to an argument in which neither party seems to hear the other. Or maybe your mind drifts to other matters when people tal
Paperback, 324 pages
Published June 6th 1986 by Touchstone (first published January 1st 1979)
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Bob Selden
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Although “People Skills” was first published in 1986, I feel obliged to review it as the principles and lessons espoused by Robert Bolton are timeless. In fact it is probably one of the most used books in my collection (I even have the paperback version covered in plastic and it’s never far from my desk).

“People Skills” is not a book that one sits down and reads from cover to cover. It’s a book where you might read a chapter that relates to one of your underused skills (such as assertion) for y
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-care
Great book. Thorough, useful, and clearly written. Highly recommended for improving communication skills.

Highlights / Summary of contents:
Chapter 2: Barriers to Communication
1) Judging: Criticizing, Name-Calling, Diagnosing, Praising Evaluatively
2) Sending Solutions: Ordering, Threatening, Moralizing, Excessive/Inappropriate Questioning, Advising
3) Avoiding the Other's Concerns: Diverting, Logical Argument, Reassuring

Chapter 3: Listening
1) Attending Skills: A Posture of Involvement, Appropriate
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociologytypes
apparently the 80's is when all the good psych books were written. i've tried to apply the practical skills found in this book to my daily life, rephrasing what people say to assure understanding, keeping a watchful eye on my emotional space to protect it from intruders, etc. 2 weeks later and i still have friends, so the book can't be all bad. ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Update 2: Have read it several times. still good. (2018)

Update: Re-reading it every two years. Still good. (2013)

Original Review: This book is so full of good stuff, it's hard to get through. I started reading every page twice. I feel like I need to read it once a year or something.
I agree with everything this guy says and the book has prompted me to think that telling the truth all the time is okay. And to tell people when I don't like what they're doing, etc.
Emily Yu
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
It you want to explore the different aspects of having good people skills, this book will deliver on that. Good examples and scenarios to support the techniques shared. It did sometimes drag out with listing and describing elements of people skills, but the practical advice was enough to not be overly bothered by the "theory." I would refer back to this book for advice. ...more
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school
If you want to learn how to better communicate with EVERYONE in your life, read this book!
♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad!
DNFing. It was a really helpful and insightful read but god it is boring and i just cant be bothered picking it back up. So no more for me.

Diana Iovanel
Dec 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I found this book extremely useful in matters of communication and at times extremely uncomfortable in maters unrelated to it. The latter comes from the age of the book, written in 1979, which reflects the realities of the time in terms of gender norms. Of course this has nothing to do with the subject of the book but it can get quite disruptive. Without actually being sexist, many examples used in the book to describe situations of miscommunication between spouses use diminishing gender norms t ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It seems like a companion book for the course the author is organizing, but even high level descriptions of common mistakes and fixes are useful. A book that goes into a lot more nitty gritty than How To Win Friends and Influence People and I find it a good follow-up and more actionable than HTWFAIP. Will need a reread in a year to see how much progress in cultivating people skills I've made. ...more
Brendon Wilkinson
I found this book as I was looking for a quick fix to help with some communication issues that were impacting on a friendship. It became quite apparent half way through the first Chapter that the issue I had identified were just the tip of the iceberg and that there isn't a quick fix. There was a lot of good advice in the book to take in and while I am sure I will not diligently apply most of it, I believe that recognizing how the habit of using communication roadblocks that I have developed ove ...more
Evan Nelson
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm honestly confused how so many people found this book to be useful. Personally I found it to be a collection of ineffective, formulaic techniques. All of the example scenarios were contrived and hyperbolic, completely ignoring all the subtleties that contribute to real world communication issues. Likewise, all of the success stories were anorexic, essentially comprising of nothing more than "Sally had trouble communicating with her boss/friend/partner, but then she used these techniques and n ...more
Doug Rice
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great book on communication. The best advice on effectively listening (reflectively listening) I've ever read. The parts about being assertive and resolving conflict are a little redundant and also unrealistic. There are also some really good chapters at the end on basic attitudes involved in effective communication. ...more
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Eye opening to say the least. The only negative thing about it, just like with any other self-help book, you start to see everything wrong with the relationships you have, a negative attitude takes over and you begin to feel resentment for those that don't see what they are doing "wrong". It's an amazing book, it just requires a positive mind set. ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it

A must read for therapists new or seasoned or just for anyone wanting to improve their communication skills. Many references to famous therapists and their philosophies. Will be a recommended book for my Counseling Procedures course.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
i refer to this book all the time, as a teacher, counselor, administrator, and person.
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Helpful book in many areas, but a little dense to wade through. It provides a very nice overview on interpersonal skills and covers assertiveness, active listening and problem solving skills.
Nihal Vrana
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
It was an excruciating thing to read, but its content is great. It is written in a very humane, warm manner and it does not try to teach you "tricks" like most of its brothers do. Being didactic makes it difficult to concentrate but at the same time, it hammers its points on you so you are unlikely to forget them. It is a nice bundle of information about how we relate to other people and how we can do it better. ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book if you want to improve your social abilities.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it liked it
The core information in this book is very useful. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary filler that makes it a bit of a slog to get through.
David J. Harris
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
Workable advice, though it is a little quotatious and lengthier than necessary.
Atul Maheshwari
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
In a nutshell, Good people skills not only get you what you want, they bring out the best in your relationships.

Although interpersonal communication is humanity's greatest accomplishment, the average person does not communicate well. Low-level communication leads to loneliness and distance from friends, lovers, spouses and children - as well as ineffectiveness at work.

In first two chapters, he mentioned how to remove the roadblocks. then he explored Listening skills. There is a huge difference
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've said before that every person intending to be in a longterm relationship should read this book. I believe it more now. I read this first before I had taken any CS classes and before I became an instructor. It was very useful then and continued to be. It is even better now. I think I'll read it over and over just to remind myself. NVC focuses on changing our attitudes and thoughts about how we think about others. This is excellent for specific techniques that become skills and then change th ...more
Josh Maher
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book about communicating with people. I was surprised how many ideas are in here that are explained so well, with examples of scenarios and discussions about how to put the ideas into everyday use. I've heard so many podcast guests parroting the concepts that originate from Robert Bolton's work.

I read it alongside Daniel Goleman's emotional intelligence - great pairing! Where EI gives the science and explains why the science is relevant, people skills gives you the next level of applicatio
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book had excellent advice on communication and the techniques for interacting with people. The author's style was very readable and I liked the examples and commentary throughout the book. While awareness of issues makes a significant improvement, some the techniques really require practice to master. The author even suggests admitting to people that you are going to practice your communication techniques on them. When others know you are trying to use the techniques it makes them work bett ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good read for anyone that not only wants to improve their listening skills but also improve their ability to assert themselves thru effective communication. I read this after reading Unconditional Parenting so it was interesting to compare where the philosophies intersected and where they differed. Now the hard part will be to practice the skills I’ve learned and incorporate them into my daily interactions. Would recommend for anyone wanting to improve not only their communication skills but a ...more
Kate Worthy

I was recommended this book by my counsellor to help resolve non-communication conflicts with my non-confrontational partner as we never seemed to resolve differences rather just bury them. This is definitely a working tool to dip on and out of, helped me tremendously to be more subtle in my need to 'talk' things through and employ my listening skills.
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Written in the 80s, but applies now more than ever as people become more connected via online channels and worse at communicating effectively. I used this book as a basis for leading group therapy with youth on how to communicate better, but found myself thinking that many adults in my life could benefit. It is well written, easy to read, and easy to digest the concepts to put in practice.
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
The nice thing about this book is that it provides an incredible amount of useful information in one relatively small book. The bad thing about it is that it'll make you realize how awful you are at communicating and what a jerk you can be. ...more
Slobodan Stefanovic
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The most useful book about interpersonal communication I have read. It covers broad area from listening to conflict resolution. This book really changed how I communicate and relate to people and I am often coming back to it.
Albert Cacace
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in the late 80's shortly after it was published and it changed my life. I read it again in 2005 and I've recommended it to several folks over the years. I don't know of anyone who has taken my advice -- but I sure wish some of them did. This book is a must read for everyone.
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“At the opposite extreme, people are often reluctant to assert about the “little things” in life. They say, “I shouldn’t be so ‘small’ and ‘picky’ to be bothered by such an insignificant thing.” Sometimes we can truly develop more acceptance of another person’s behavior, but often a pseudoacceptance develops in the top of our mind while the irritation continues to grow in the depth of our gut.” 2 likes
“Psychologists have discovered that when a person is repeatedly submissive in her interactions with another person, the other tends to feel guilty about getting her own way so much. This feeling generates pity, irritation, and finally disgust toward the submissive person.20” 2 likes
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