Most books about psychology should be written by psychologists, not business leadership gurus. This isn't always the case, but with this book, it absolutely is. At the heart of forming meaningful relationships is communication, the verbal part being just one small piece of that. A book with very little science as the basis for the principles upon which communication is formed is just an author using business catchphrases such as "inclusion," " alignment," "partnership," and "strategic success" to account for her lack of knowledge of the topic. And virtually every section is littered with self-promoting phrases such as "A CEO of a large firm I worked with told me..." and "I worked with a large team from an international organization" and "In my work with Fortune 500 companies..." or "Following a talk I gave to blah blah blah." Which is ironic, because no conversation should be about the person doing the talking. Honestly, if you want to learn better communication or conversational skills, stick to the real experts. This was a fierce disappointment.
"While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a career, a business, a marriage, or a life, any single conversation can."
This quote shows the emphasis Susan Scott's book places on the important role conversations have in our lives. The book might better be named authentic conversations as the goal is not to make us fierce in the sense of that word's usual connotations. Instead, the author emphasizes truly being present to the person you are speaking with and honoring them both with clear, direct communication about what matters and also by truly listening, allowing for significant silences, and being open to being changed in the midst of the conversation.
Not groundbreaking as a book, but well thought out chapters on how to move past the surface at work and at home to have meaningful, life-changing talks with co-workers, your boss, your family and a significant other. The starting point is a fierce conversation with yourself about your values and hopes, with enough time for silence within oneself before beginning to engage others.
A better than usual business book in opening up how much we can improve our relationships not through some strategic plan, but one authentic conversation at a time.
This book provided several great take-aways regarding the importance of having great, thorough and honest conversations that allow you to feel a remarkable sense of integrity and self-authenticity (i.e. being honest with and to yourself). These conversations can be change-agents. They can dig deep to core-issues that may manifest themselves all over a person's life and not just in isolated instances. This book instructs the reader to have the conversation that is needed and it does so by also offering great instructions for how to do so, even when the conversation is difficult. She does a great job of including both on-the-job and at-home stories and applications so that this material is relevant in all contexts, not just the business world. This book increased my understanding of the importance of being open to having the difficult conversations and also to receiving the difficult conversations.
Some outstanding quotes include:
* "...our very lives succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time." (1) * "The conversation is the relationship." (6) * "For some people, win/win translates to I win. I win again." (16) * "One of the goals in a fierce conversation is to get everyone's reality out on the table, so it can be interrogated. Everyone's!" (23) * "Ground Truth - what's actually happening on the ground versus the official tactics...You have to get at ground truth before you can turn anything around." (47) * "If your behavior contradicts your values, your body knows." (53) * "I may think I see you as you are, but in truth, I see you as I am." (83) * "The issues in my life are rarely about you. They are almost always about me." (83) * "When someone has a behavior at work that is causing a problem, it is inevitably showing up elsewhere in his or her life, causing similar problems." (161) * "The most valuable thing any of us can do is find a way to say the things that can't be said." (174) * "Recognize that everything you say creates an emotional wake." (207)
The Appendix provide useful worksheets for using: Mineral Rights; Questions For One-To-Ones; The Decision Tree; Preparing An Issue For Discussion; The Confrontation Model.
My critique of the book is that it could have been organized better. For instance, when she introduced Mineral Rights, I had no idea what it was or what it looked like until much later in the book. I figured she would expound better what it was, but instead, she gave an example that illustrated it but did not really set the boundaries for what it actually is. Also, I felt that her chapter titles did not align with the content of the chapters. For instance, chapter four, "Tackle your toughest challenge today" sounds like chapter to motivate immediate action and to reject procrastination. Instead, while it focused on tackling issues, the "today" aspect of it was missing.
Overall, it is an easy read with many stories and illustrations that provides good guidance for having the tough, difficult, brutally honest conversations that need to happen for growth to occur.
This is one of those books where it all seems like common sense once you read it. Truly a "Why didn't I think of that?" sort of thing. I love the message, but I think this book could be at least 30% shorter if it lost most of the very structured (and awkward) teacher-esque tone. A lot of time is spent telling you what you are about to learn, when cutting to the chase would not be confusing or any less effective. All in all, a must-read essential.
There is no doubt this book will be an interesting and informative read for most people. The author and her organization are well recognized and highly successful executive coaches. My difficulty with the book is it's lack of originality for already informed readers; those already familiar with the principles, lessons and references to literature, music, and behaviors described. In this sense I see this text more as a beginners volume, a good one at that, but I am not sure it's content would prompt an epiphany (or an apostrophe as the author puts it:). The analogies, anecdotes and other examples from what are surely (very) high priced consultations all seem too perfect, the resolutions too pristine, the changed behaviors too well aligned with a desired outcome. I don't doubt their authenticity, but I would have liked to read some examples of less rosy endings/conversations that would provide a more balanced view of fierce conversations in both professional and personal settings.