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

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Harvard Business Press, 2010 - Business & Economics - 240 pages
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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.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Anatomy of Hard Talks
15
3 Whats Wrong with What We Do
27
4 Rethinking What We Do
39
5 Acting Unilaterally
61
6 Conversational Warfare and the Combat Mentality
75
7 Out of Combat
89
8 Caught Up in Emotions
113
10 Working Blind in the Breakdown Gap
155
11 Out of the Breakdown Gap
169
12 Conclusion
209
Notes
227
Index
229
Acknowledgments
237
About the Author
239
Copyright

9 Out of Emotions Grip
127

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About the author (2010)

Holly Weeks teaches, publishes and consults on communications issues through her company, Holly Weeks Communications. She is an Adjunct Lecturer in Management Leadership and Decision Sciences at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Visiting Pro-Seminar Lecturer in Communication and Vision Speech at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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