People and Personalities Books

Some of the most interesting and helpful books are those about how we can deal with others effectively.  Here are some books that I’ve found that provide some great insights.

Communication and Dealing with Others Book List

Looking to be better understood?  Or to better understand others?  Here are some helpful books on communication.

Personality Typing

Personality typing instruments are very useful for understanding how other people think.  I am certified in 3 tools, and familiar with several others.  None of them unlocks the secrets of the universe, or any individuals, none will enable you to know a person better than they know themselves or predict how they will think or act in a given situation.  What they give you is a place to start – a possibility about what may make sense from someone else’s perspective.  Each of us has wondered with puzzlement about someone else, “how could he think that?”  Our synapses do not all fire in the same direction.  These tools can give you a hint.  If you suspect you can identify a person’s perspective through one of these tools, give it a try.  If it doesn’t land, try another.  If you care enough to inquire and make the attempt, you’ll probably end up better off regardless of whether you nail that person’s type or not.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram (which means nine points) is a relatively recent personality model with roots in many ancient and esoteric traditions.  In a class I took with one of the leading schools on this instrument there were christian ministers, Hindu monks, an hasidic jew, others on their own spiritual paths and people looking to more deeply understand themselves and others but not necessarily following any spiritual tradition at all.  The tool is meant to help individuals understand our essential selves, which many people identify as their spiritual self.  It is the you underneath your personality, beliefs and other definitions.

In business, I find this to be a powerful tool for understanding how people think and sometimes behave as a result – valuable information to help communicate with others, understand them and lead them.  This is a complex instrument, and one that misses the point or can even be misunderstood if over-simplified, but it is worth the time to learn and understand.  There are many, many books on the Enneagram – here are some that I’ve read (so far.)

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The MBTI is the most commonly accepted and statistically validated of the personality instruments, so many people have encountered it in their professional or personal lives.  There are 16 types based on the variations of 4 dichotomies.  Memorizing the characteristics of 16 types is daunting, but you can break down the four dichotomies more easily.  There is also the Kiersey Temperament model, which consolidates the types into four groups, which can also be valuable.  Here are a few of the many books on the MBTI.

The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument

The HBDI also looks at 4 personality types based on brain dominance – left vs right, and also cerebral vs limbic as two dichotomies.  This tool is simple to learn and understand, and can be very useful for understanding “whole brain” thinking – both as individuals and as groups.  Here are a few books on the HBDI.


Another personality type tool is DISC, which is an acronym for Dominant or Drive/Influence or Inducement/Steadiness or Submission/Compliance or Cautious or Conscientious, is another four quadrant model with two dichotomies of assertive vs passive and open vs guarded.  Here are some books on DISC.

Other Personality Typing Tools

Can’t get enough of personalities?  Here are some books on other models for looking at personality typing.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-linguistic programming is a tool that provides an integrated understanding of behavior, thought processes and language and is useful for uncovering your own blocks and understanding communication between people.  The science of NLP isn’t proven, but many people have had great success better understanding inter and intra-personal issues using this technique.  I find the tie-in to learning styles to be useful and effective. One area of concern is that these techniques can be used manipulatively, but as they are really only using natural human tendencies consciously, there are those who may be using them for selfish reasons without even knowing there is a name for them.  (That’s also why I particularly like Genie Laborde who has a high focus on using these methods with integrity.  Books on NLP.

Cultural Models

Those working in the global community recognize that there are many other factors that shape us beyond our personalities, including the groups we are born into and live with.  Here are some great books for understanding cultural models of many types.