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Failure to Communicate: How Conversations Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Right Them

Book Description

Your stomach's churning; you're hyperventilating -- you're in a badly deteriorating conversation at work. Such exchanges, which run the gamut from firing subordinates to parrying verbal attacks from colleagues, are so loaded with anger, confusion, and fear that most people handle them poorly: they avoid them, clamp down, or give in.

But dodging issues, appeasing difficult people, and mishandling tough encounters all carry a high price for managers and companies -- in the form of damaged relationships, ruined careers, and intensified problems.

In Failure to Communicate, Holly Weeks shows how to master the combat mentality, emotional maelstrom, and confusion that poison difficult conversations. Drawing on her many years as a consultant and coach to leaders and executives, the author explains:

· Why we turn to ineffective tactics when the heat is on

· How to avoid the worst pitfalls of difficult conversations, and how to pull yourself out if you fall in

· Ways to regain your balance and inject respect into stressful conversations, even when you've been confronted, infuriated, or wronged

· Strategies for mitigating aggression and defensiveness, and for clearing the fog of misconceptions

· How to get through the hardest conversations with your reputation and relationships intact

Using proven techniques paired with detailed real-life examples, Weeks equips you with the strategies and practices you need to transform even the toughest conversations.

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Table of Contents
  4. CHAPTER 1 - Introduction
    1. Anatomy of a confrontation: Defining hard talks
    2. Transforming hard talks
    3. The landscape of hard talks
    4. The origins of Failure to Communicate
    5. Bringing balance and skill to bear
    6. Remember:
  5. CHAPTER 2 - Anatomy of Hard Talks
    1. Three basic traits of hard talks
    2. Three familiar, but misguided, slants on handling hard talks
    3. Remember:
  6. CHAPTER 3 - What’s Wrong with What We Do
    1. What they do
    2. What we do
    3. It takes two
    4. Remember:
  7. CHAPTER 4 - Rethinking What We Do
    1. Self-respect: Your own good balance
    2. Respect for your counterpart
    3. Respect for the conversation itself
    4. Balance within: The emotion problem
    5. Balance between the two sides
    6. Moving through the conversational landscape
    7. Opening new possibilities
    8. Remember:
  8. CHAPTER 5 - Acting Unilaterally
    1. The Red Team and the Green Team
    2. Putting unilateral change to work
    3. Change within: Handling emotions unilaterally
    4. Change between: Seeing our counterparts’ perspective
    5. Change in the landscape of the conversation
    6. New thinking over old stumbling blocks
    7. Remember:
  9. CHAPTER 6 - Conversational Warfare and the Combat Mentality
    1. Combat rules of the war zone
    2. Power: One-down, one-up, and both sides
    3. Combat rules in conflict: Might or right?
    4. Lifting the fog of war
    5. Remember:
  10. CHAPTER 7 - Out of Combat
    1. What happened here?
    2. Strategic thinking
    3. Strategic balance
    4. Three-way respect
    5. Giving up the combat model
    6. Remember:
  11. CHAPTER 8 - Caught Up in Emotions
    1. The college campaign meeting contretemps
    2. What happened here?
    3. Remember:
  12. CHAPTER 9 - Out of Emotion’s Grip
    1. First tactic: Find middle ground
    2. Second tactic: Immunize against thwarting ploys
    3. Third tactic: Change tack
    4. Fourth tactic: Recover from blunders and fouls
    5. Coming together
    6. Remember:
  13. CHAPTER 10 - Working Blind in the “Breakdown Gap”
    1. How does it happen?
    2. Oversimplification and the delusion of good intentions
    3. Justices Burger and Blackmun: A high-level breakdown
    4. The slippery slope of misconceptions
    5. Remember:
  14. CHAPTER 11 - Out of the Breakdown Gap
    1. What’s happening here?
    2. The end-of-fiscal-year workload agreement, round 2
    3. From chain reaction to failure
    4. Strategies for the unpredictable breakdowns
    5. Strategy: The Mock Interview
    6. From two sides now
    7. Changing strategy: Melissa
    8. Changing strategy: Tracy
    9. Plan B: Put myself in your shoes
    10. Strategic change
    11. Tactics for thwarting ploys
    12. What to do
    13. Remember:
  15. CHAPTER 12 - Conclusion
    1. Jack and Mike: The company turnaround
    2. What to do: Strategy
    3. What to do: Tactics
    4. Can Mike recover?
    5. Reputation and relationships
  16. NOTES
  17. INDEX