Use Google Custom Search to find the best self help books on any topic.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Secrets Of An Expert Persuader

The art of persuasion is perhaps the most used, abused and essential social skill. Voting for a candidate, buying something, trying to sell something, asking for a raise, landing a date, getting a leave, wriggling out of a bash-up, sorting an argument or going down on your knees to propose...almost everywhere someone is successfully persuading you to willingly part with your time, money, effort, belongings, ideas, beliefs, even the cherished carefree state of bachelorhood. Our behavior is governed by the process of stimulus and response. Persuasion provides the necessary stimulus to make us act in a certain way. It is a way of guiding you to adopt an idea, take a particular decision or act in some specific way. Persuasion employs subtle guidance techniques that appear quite rational, though they may not always be logical. One excellent example is advertising. A strategically placed, well written board announcing a clearance sale can make you fish out your credit card and blow up your next bonus even before receiving it. There is no logic to it, but it appears a perfectly rational decision till maybe its time to drop your next card payment.

Now persuasion is not something that always leaves you exploited. You also put your own persuasion skills to use so many times everyday both at work and at home. How does persuasion work? Persuasion experts broadly define following six principles of influencing or persuading people:

- The principle of reciprocation: People often get persuaded to do things when it appears they are returning a favor. A few examples are people donating generously to their previous schools or exchange of humanitarian aid between countries.

- The principle of social herding: People tend to accept an idea more easily if it is widely accepted in the society. The beauty of this principle is that it doesn't take a crowd to convince someone of the authenticity of an idea. Just try standing on the road gesturing wildly towards the sky. You may be pointing at a galaxy not yet discovered, but there will soon be a group of mighty interested people looking up for a UFO they think you just sighted.

- The principle of authority: People generally tend to abide by the law and authority. They would obey an order even if they find it objectionable. Driving within speed limits and frantic attempts to reach office on time are two good examples.

- The principle of commitment: People generally tend to honor a commitment. They would follow a course agreed upon even if their original motivating factor is removed. This is why people end up buying apartments at a far more escalated cost than the original booking.

- The principle of scarcity: Scarcity of something, whether real or perceived, propels people's will to act in a certain way. A good example is panic buying before an approaching storm or bulk buying in sales announced for short periods.

- The principle of endorsing: People easily get motivated to buy ideas or products endorsed by people they like or trust. Buying the toothpaste your favorite movie star endorses or purchasing Tupperware through a friend are both examples of such behavior.

Now why am I boring you with all this gibberish? Yes, as usual I have a book to tell you about, but I first want to say that persuasion - like any other skill - can be acquired, improved and mastered for greater success in life. Usually we do not look at persuasion as a stand-alone skill. We tend to look at small facets of it in terms of conversational skills, social etiquettes, body language, presentation skills and more. It's the complete package that amounts for good persuasion skills.

book on persuasion skillsHow To Be An Expert Persuader In 20 Days Or a rather long title for a book. Ok, but that does not take the credit away from it for being the most comprehensive and chaff-free resource on the subject of persuasion. The book touches upon all aspects of your personality that you can easily groom to acquire or enhance persuasion skills. The book discusses effective persuasion techniques that you can quickly master and use to influence people around you. Some of these techniques are based on the principle of conversational hypnosis, also called covert hypnosis. The difference is that here you don't just learn about abstract theories, you actually learn to put them in practice. If you think you could fare better in life if people took you more seriously, believed in what you say, understood you better or just listened to you...this book is for you. Take a look. Go here!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jesus! Is This True?

When I first came across this book, it appeared to be yet another man's interpretation of Jesus, his life and works. Nothing great about it eh? Philosophy and religion in general - and the life and work of a superior force in mortal personification in particular - are always open to personal reflections and interpretations. I didn't even bother to note who is selling this book since he doesn't happen to be the author. However, the author's name did ring a bell.

book on Jesus and his workJesus: The Man And His Work is (claimed to be) a little known book first written and published by Wallace Delois Wattles. Mr. Wattles was born in Illinois, United States in 1860. He had a rather difficult early life like most people during the American Civil War and in his 20s he was working as a farm laborer. Later in his life Mr. Wattles got interested in philosophy and different religious thoughts of the world. The turning point came when he got associated with the school of New Thought based in Chicago.

Now for the interested ones...The New Thought movement began in the US in the 19th century and continues till today. The subscribers of this school of thought believe in supreme sovereignty of God, spirit as the essence of all reality, divine thought as the force of good, mind as the birthplace of all ailments and therapeutic effect of right thinking. Mr. Wattles discovered and defined some of the basic principles of New Thought and his books were very popular in the New Thought movement. His best known work is The Science Of Getting Rich. His principles and methods must have worked, for despite always living a very hard life he died as a prosperous man.

Jesus: The Man And His Work is a book based on a lecture he delivered in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1905. The book is quite intriguing in terms of both its content and treatment. The book does not add or take away anything earth-shaking from what we've always known and believed about Jesus. But it does lend some very interesting twists to how we understand Jesus and what he said or did. It won't make you question your faith, but it would definitely help you refine your wisdom. Interested? Go here!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How to Survive A Recession

If I am to trust the harbingers of global news, these are troubled times for common folks all over the world. The prices are rising, supplies are dwindling and pink slips, wage cuts and layoffs across the entire gamut of businesses is just making it worse. Whether someone blames it on the burgeoning middle class in India consuming more and better food or the cropping pattern in the US, these are just political farces staged to shift the common man's focus away from their own leaders' bungling to little understood factors across the oceans. I know economies today do not function in isolation, but I find it hard to digest that my chosen representatives can wash their hands off my plight by simply pointing towards the West...or East, North, South as it suits them.

Anyways, recessions come and recessions go. People live on. It's also amazing how your circumstances make you perceive a phenomenon differently. During the recession of late 90s that started in East Asia, I was just a few years into a career and it never really seemed to affect me. Now, 10 years, a growing child, a home loan and two credit cards later I am really feeling the pinch of an impending recession. I am not trying to sound pessimistic...just stating facts. So what can we do to survive a worldwide recession? First let us do away with the fancy word. Recession (or it's immediate effect) to me translates into my basic expenses being in excess of my earnings. Most economists would faint at this definition, but it makes sense to me!

So what do I do? There are two ways. I can either take a defensive approach or get aggressive. The defensive approach is to save and cut spending. Getting into car pools, walking short distances, using public transport to save money on gas. Making weekly trips to wholesale bargain markets for groceries instead of daily ones to the supermarket next door. Getting rid of short term, high interest credit card loans ASAP. Switching to a debit card instead of a credit card or setting strict limits to credit card spending. Cooking more at home, washing your car yourself, even switching off extra lights will save you bucks that will ultimately count. A good way to start is to list down your biggest expense heads and try to find how to reduce each by 10-15% initially. See if it works for a few weeks and then give it another tone down.

Like all defensive approaches, cutting on expenses has a limited bail-out effect. If you want better results, foster your saving efforts with increasing your earnings. If you run a business, find time to work on additional lines. If you are in a job, find time to take up part-time work or something you can work on from home. If you are a couple, start something together. Entrepreneurship is always the best bet against recession. Hard times often give you that extra reason and inspiration to do something that you always thought you would do. Start a small business of your own. Start on a scale that suits your availability of funds. Put in sincere sweat equity and most importantly get informed and plan your venture well. If you are looking for ideas, here are a few to explore...

book on starting a cleaning business
book on becoming professional organizer
book on starting a daycare business

book on selling digital photos
book on making candy bouquets
book on starting a catering business
book on starting a food company
book on starting bed & breakfast business
book on setting up jewelry booths
These are just some of the ideas that you can work on. One important thing is to choose a venture that tickles a personal interest or passion. Remember this is additional work, so you better work on something that not only earn you money but also allows you to have some fun. Try converting a hobby or existing skill into a business venture. If nothing else, it will keep you a bit happy and sane. Best of luck!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Secrets of Happy Relationships

Did you dare read any feature article on relationships lately? I did and let me tell you it was routinely disheartening. The latest finding is that having kids conclusively concludes the romance in your marriage. I couldn't disagree more. It never ceases to baffle me how much research is going on to establish why relationships are getting strained, bruised, warped, cracked, split wide open or categorically blown to bits. I agree that information is a key tool to avoid a possible disaster, but I would rather know what works than what doesn't. Being a married man for 13 years I have my own ponderous collection of what doesn't work for my relationship and my six year old is not one of them.

Anyways, my point is that why so much stress on disasters and precious little on success stories. Maybe it has to do with the way scientific research works. They would obviously first cut open a cadaver to see what caused the casualty than spend time with a survivor to find out how he averted the disaster. It is safer to pin down a it of a person or a relationship...because it (usually) cannot be undone. It takes courage to put forth a formula for survival since what worked for some may not work for all. However, I hope the relationship doctors start being more brave than safe and gloomy.

Having grumbled enough, let me get back to what I am here to do. book on secrets of happy relationships
book on more secrets of happy relationshipsHere is a set of two books that I specially like and suggest all couples and singles should go through. 50 Secrets of Blissful Relationships is written by Michael Webb, a much celebrated author and relationships expert. Like all Michael's books, this book also focuses on what works. It does warn you of things like excessive criticism, but then it also shows you how to use criticism in the right way to avoid a storm without having to suffocate your own feelings. Why I recommend these books to singles is the fact that you also find great tips on finding your soulmate and starting your relationship on the right foot. You think you could do with some advice that really works? Go here!

book on lovemaking tips for men
book on lovemaking tips for womenNow when you talk about secrets of a happy relationship, physical aspects of it cannot be ignored. If you just want to spice up the love(making) aspect of your relationship, here are two more books that you will find really useful. Do check them out.