The internet allows us to make “friends” online, “like” our colleagues’ photos, and engage in lengthy political debates, but are we really making genuine connections with one another? Forthcoming titles help readers learn how to communicate better online and in real life, offering assistance for cultivating better relationships in love, at work, and with family.
Commentator and former TV news host Greta Van Susteren sets out to help a generation that predates social media be comfortable with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more in Everything You Need to Know About Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid) (Simon & Schuster, Nov.). “Greta figured out that, for a certain user of a certain age, there’s a bit of fear and trepidation related to social media,” says Priscilla Painton, executive editor of nonfiction at S&S.
“A lot of people don’t know what about their life and their personality can be served by social media, and she does a great job of breaking that down.” The target readership is women who don’t instinctively feel comfortable with social media, as well as the children and grandchildren who are tired of answering their questions. Van Susteren outlines the basics of all the major platforms; sidebars called GretaGrams offer easy takeaways.
Communicating in the realm of love and relationships has become tricky in the online era, too. To this end, Joanna Coles, former editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan and the first chief content officer at Hearst Magazines, offers Love Rules (Harper, Apr. 2018).
“In this age of apps and ways to meet people at your fingertips, people have lost sight of how to connect,” says Jennifer Barth, v-p and executive editor at Harper. Love Rules devotes an entire chapter to those digital options, with the aim of helping readers choose one that best meets their relationship goals.
Coles, Barth says, is “an advocate of online dating and thinks it’s an amazing tool—and one a lot of people haven’t been able to use wisely.” The author takes inspiration from Michael Pollan and the Slow Food movement, calling “slow love” the equivalent of “slow food,” and she instructs her readers to keep a journal the way a conscious eater might with food, in order to recognize their patterns and work toward building a lasting connection with a partner.
Treating People Well (Scribner, Jan. 2018), a book designed for a readership seeking guidance in any number of settings, covers online behavior as well, in a chapter called “Virtual Manners.” Written by Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard, former White House social secretaries to George and Laura Bush and Barack and Michelle Obama, respectively, Treating People Well makes an argument for a return to civility in American political life.
The book, which includes a foreword by Laura Bush, offers advice on exuding confidence, establishing a trustworthy reputation, and developing the social skills that remain important despite our increasingly digitized world.
Carol A. Fleming, in The Serious Business of Small Talk (Berrett-Koehler, May 2018), also emphasizes the importance of treating people well. A speech pathologist and personal communication coach, Fleming says that courtesy and openness are essential for building trust in social and business relationships. The first half of the book, she says, covers the basics of conversation, including “how to be more attractive and approachable and how to beat self-consciousness, and the role of small talk in protecting and building community.” Then, she covers how these skills may be applied in numerous specific situations.
Finding the Words
Connecting with others in times of grief presents its own set of challenges. “There’s an abundance of material to help the person who experienced loss address their grief and process their loss,” says Jennifer Jones, co-editor with Shelly Fisher of Breaking Sad (She Writes, Nov.) “But there really was an absence of support for the supporters.”
Fisher says the idea for the book came from a friend who lost her 26-year-old daughter. Jones, recognizing the reluctance people may have to say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing, hopes the book will help readers reach out to those who are grieving as soon as possible rather than waiting until they feel ready.
The co-editors asked for submissions of stories from people who had experienced loss, including the best thing and the worst thing that someone said or did in the wake of their loss. They chose just under 100 for the book, including some from celebrities including Montel Williams, Valerie Harper, and Olivia Newton-John.
Now Say This by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright (TarcherPerigee, June 2018) also acknowledges the difficulty in finding the right words—in this case, when talking to a small child. Sara Carder, editorial director at TarcherPerigee, says the book is about “being attuned with your children, not being reactive, and thinking through how you are going to respond,” and that it has already had an impact on her own communications with her 10-year-old.
Now Say This covers the more stressful areas one might encounter with children, including homework, bedtime, and sibling conflict. Carder says the book is “about taking a pause, essentially,” and listening to each other—good advice for any communication situation.