This book is the fruit of 35 years’ endeavour with my wife, Rosemary, creating, developing and running a management training course called, “Skills with People”. In 2005 our son, Alex, joined us in this work. The course has a reputation as one of the most effective available in the UK. Many hund
This book teaches a powerful blend of the two most crucial conversation skills, empathy and assertiveness. We all have these skills to some degree, or at least the potential for them. They are in our genes. They may have gone rusty or been blunted by life’s experiences but they are recoverable. The book aims to help you recover them. It is a how-do-you-actually-say-it book, packed with clear guidelines and examples you can apply to your own difficult conversations.
Why is it ‘all too rare’ for human beings to experience a true meeting of minds, to really ‘connect’, to ‘understand one-another thoroughly’ ? Although we want it – and may even have a yearning for it – there is a fundamental difficulty, even for those of us with similar backgrounds and speaking the same language. We each inhabit a private world, have an inner life we can observe directly through a mysterious faculty we call consciousness – a mind busy with our own sensations, memories, thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears. But we have no direct access to one-another’s private world, we can only guess at it and often our guesses are wrong. It is much easier to misunderstand than to understand one-another.
How then can we make better connections? It depends on the quality of the signals we send to and receive from one-another. One of our signalling methods is conversation, and that is what this book is about – what kind of conversation creates good enough connections for us to live and work successfully and harmoniously together?
Part One: The two crucial skills
Part Two: Difficult conversations