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Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high, by Kerry Patterson and others, reviewed by L. Ellis, We all have crucial conversations…daily! These are the conversations between spouses, coworkers, parents and children, friends, and family members that bond us and form our relationships. “They’re the day-to-day conversations that affect your life” (page 1). So, naturally, these are the conversations that we need to work our hardest at. We all long for the relationships in which our differing opinions can be a source of strength ? not its downfall. We all want to be able to articulate our thoughts, feelings, and desires openly ? no matter how unpopular. With the information in this book, complete with chapter summaries and a handy index for quick reference/refreshing, we can learn the skills to do just that. The goal is to be able to EFFECTIVELY hold difficult conversations about any topic with any person. With a little, or a lot, of help and some patience with the process we can all learn how. We can do this! As I read this book and consciously implemented its principles, I found my mind able to think more clearly through discussions while avoiding pitfalls that I regularly fall into. I found Crucial Conversations to be a very meaty book that should be read time and time again. Definitely one for your personal library that should be referred to often!
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”, by Brené Brown, reviewed by LauraE, Based on seven years of research and interviews, researcher, professor, and social worker Brené Brown has written this book in an effort to help us understand shame, its triggers, why we feel shame, what we feel shame about, what we need to do to overcome its effects, and the fact that we are not alone in our shame. Brown quotes often from her interviewees as well as uses examples from her own life. Full of excellent definitions, identifiable examples, and an effort to promote shame-resilience through courage, compassion, and connection, this is an enlightening book that, if willing to practice, will make a marked impact on your life and those of whom you have influence. As Dr. Brown said, “Change doesn't require heroics. Change begins when we practice ordinary courage.” I listened to this book in audio format. For me, it is better suited for reading—10+ hours of audio contains a lot of information and by the time I got to the end I wondered what was said in the beginning. If I had the physical book in hand I could refer to notes and highlighted material. (Maybe it is just me who has a hard time retaining over a period of time…but it isn’t!) Also, some topics and language is, in my opinion, unsuitable for children. Therefore you need 10+ hours of alone time for this audio.
Inner Peace for Busy Women, by Joan Z. Borysenko, reviewed by LauraE, “Women weave the invisible web that holds the world together. If the web weakens, then the chance to turn the world around in these chaotic times will be lost. But if we face the challenges of this transitional time with honesty, open-heartedness, and practical wisdom, we can help birth a new world.” The truth is that women need women. In Inner Peace for Busy Women, Joan Borysenko really lays out life and the difficulties we all face―working outside of the home or not, raising children, and challenges in our marital relationships. She does not hide her own struggles with her mother (perhaps more appropriately, her mother’s generation), her two sons, or her marriage that ultimately ended in divorce. Her ability to find humor, peace, and the lesson within is what is striking in her work. I have to admit that when I started listening to this book, I was afraid that it was another battle of words and justifications surrounding working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. I began to mentally “armor up” to protect my own personal decisions and beliefs. As I continued listening, I felt the armor begin to soften and fall away. What this book is, in actuality, is an examination and discussion of the situations we find ourselves in throughout our lives. It serves to unite us as one compassionate group. I am happy that I chose to hear what Joan Borysenko had to offer, which did offer inner peace for this busy woman.
Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Shiela Heen, reviewed by LauraE, “Asking for a raise. Ending a relationship. Giving a critical performance review. Saying no to someone in need. Confronting disrespectful or hurtful behavior. Disagreeing with the majority in a group. Apologizing.” (page xxvii)Most of us say, “Ouch, ouch, and ouch!” These are extremely hard conversations to have be it with friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even our own children. A difficult conversation is anything you find it hard to talk about. Clear and instructional, reading and implementing the strategies outlined in this book can help you navigate through even the toughest of conversations. In particular, I appreciate the checklist found on page 233. It could be used for a quick brush-up before entering a difficult conversation. The 10th-anniversary edition includes the main text of the original publishing intact, and also includes “Ten Questions People Ask About Difficult Conversations.” This section is a great addition to the book. Be brave!—and give this book a real, honest try.
The Marshmallow Test, by Walter Mischel, reviewed by LauraE, Chances are pretty great that you are familiar with, or in the very least have heard of, The Marshmallow Test—the Stanford study by author Walter Mischel that first took place in the early 60s (and then again in the 80s). This is the test that placed preschoolers in a room with their treat of choice and were told that they could either eat the small portion now, or if they waited a time their reward would be doubled. The scientists were observing and studying the idea of delay gratification, or self-control.Because Mischel’s daughters had friends that were a part of the original test and through casual dinner conversations, Mischel started wondering if there was not a connection between the child’s ability to delay gratification and how their lives were playing out…follow-ups were conducted over many years and new life was breathed into The Marshmallow Test. Turns out our ability to delay gratification, even if not inherent, can be learned. It can affect our entire life, even the ability to set ourselves up (or not!) for retirement, breaking bad habits, and keeping relationships from falling apart. We CAN change the way we think.