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Vital Conversations: A practical approach to handling difficult conversations, managing conflict, giving feedback and influencing difficult people Paperback – 6 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes Holland Publishing; 1st edition (6 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956312802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956312808
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

An invaluable addition to the difficult conversation arena. If you read one development book this year make it this one!"
--Malcolm Stern, Channel 4 presenter, psychotherapist and specialist in conflict resolution

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prologue

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter most." Martin Luther King

How many conversations have you had in the last twelve months? Adults have over 10,000 conversations a year, from chatting with family and friends to meetings with peers and clients. Even the everyday "life stuff " like shopping and booking a restaurant requires two-way dialogue. Out of all those conversations, only a tiny fraction will be what I would term vital. If you look in the dictionary you will see that vital means "necessary for the continuation of life" or "urgently needed and absolutely crucial". In essence, vital conversations are just that: must-have conversations that will help to move your business, teams and key personal relationships forward. They are the most important conversations you will ever have.

But there's a dilemma. You know deep down that there are
issues to be resolved or words and feelings that must be expressed, and you sense that this one conversation could make a real difference. Unfortunately, you may also feel overwhelmed by strong emotions or fearful of how the conversation may play out. It's no wonder that many people stay silent about the things that matter to them most.

To quote Ken Blanchard, "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 book looks at how to identify and then successfully engage in the conversations that will make the biggest difference for you.

So why are you reading this book?

Time is precious, so if you're investing that rarest of commodities in reading this book, the chances are you're someone who cares deeply about improving the quality of your communication and your relationships. Alternatively, you may be in the darker, more ominous position of needing to make a significant change in your business or in a key relationship, and you're only too aware that any brighter
future will involve at least one if not several difficult conversations.

You may also be reading this book for one of the following
reasons:

You know you need to have a vital conversation but you're too afraid to have it.

Your job includes the requirement to have difficult conversations and you want to improve your skills and approach.

Your inability to deal with conflict is holding you back and restricting your career potential.

A part of your life or relationship isn't working out right now and you need to have a conversation with one or more people, but you're not sure how to go about it.

For the long-term health of the business, you need to give certain people some bad news.

You care very deeply about key people in your life and you
want to deepen that connection by communicating in a
respectful, transparent and authentic way.

You have a reputation at work for being a fire-breathing dragon and the HR director has left this book on your desk while you were away from your office!

What is your reason?

There are no easy vital conversations!

As a professional mediator, coach, husband and father, I can handon heart tell you that whatever level of skill you believe you have, there are no easy vital conversations. If you come across literature or a guru who claims they have a blueprint that makes it easy, I recommend a healthy dose of scepticism.I've had the honour and pleasure of working with and learning from some of the world's most talented people in the field ofconflict resolution - and all of them, without exception, have found certain difficult conversations extremely challenging. So if the thought of engaging in a vital conversation terrifies you, you'rein good company! With so much of our success, happiness and peace of mind tied to the quality of our communication and cooperation with others, my experience leads me to believe that the quality of our life and relationships is dependent on the quality of ourconversations.

My role throughout this book is to be your mentor and coach, and to help develop your approach, skills and confidence. The book provides robust strategies for making the impossible conversation possible. If you follow my guidance and apply what this book has to offer, it will bring you to a new way of thinking and communicating, leading to enhanced relationships, better results and greater peace of mind. I also commit to you now not to overpromise. Completely eliminating all fear and anxiety from a vital yet difficult conversation is an unrealistic goal, but minimising the fear and anxiety is definitely within our grasp. Similarly, expecting a fantastic outcome
to every vital conversation is blind optimism, but a significant improvement in the outcome is consistently achievable. Who knows? There may be just a handful of vital conversations between where you find yourself now, and where you most want your life, career or business to be!


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Hawkswell on 26 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I gave this book five stars as it meets several important needs I have for a great self development book. First of all I found the wisdom contained in the book highly accessible, rather than page after page of text, the use of case studies, icon sound bites, diagrams and a logical flow made the book user friendly. Secondly its robust dealing with all aspects of difficult conversations including key areas like managing your emotions, planning the conversations, key skills and most importantly how to develop the right mindset. Finally, I could apply the learning directly to the conversations i wanted to tackle as the book coaches the reader on the various key aspects of preparing for the conversation you need to have. Overall a book that really delivers real insights and robust strategies that have integrity rather than manipulative techniques which are so common in other books of this genre.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. R. Walton on 25 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is easy to read and entertaining. It also gets to the heart of the blocks for all of us; saying things and expressing our needs in a way that we feel confident to do whilst being understanding of others. Vital Conversations guides you step by step through the best ways to do this. It is clear and concise and i have used the techniques with my clients as well as in my personal life with great success. I really believe we should learn these skills at school. I give it 5 stars because the content is easy to understand and apply and the outcomes are transforming.
Chris Walton
Psychologist
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Bach on 16 April 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is great for personal or professional use because it's an excellent mix of tools, ideas, inspiration and practical tips. You can either dip in and out of it depending on what you're interested in or you can read it cover to cover. I read it through in one go and never found myself skipping pages or questioning the relevance. I completely recommend this book to help you understand yourself and other people to improve how you work & live together. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Huntley on 28 May 2010
Format: Paperback
Terrific read- I thoroughly enjoyed reading Alec's debut book, Vital Conversations. As a client, I have had the privilege to know and work with Alec for several years. During this time he has introduced many of the elements of the book into 1-2-1 coaching sessions as well as into larger group training events. To now have the opportunity to see it all written down in one convenient place is of immense value. I certainly intend to refer to it on an ongoing basis both in a leadership context in my business and professional career and in a broader context for those other tough conversations that life throws at us from time to time. Thoroughly recommended- and, if you want to get to know Alec better yourself after reading his book, I also have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in recommending to you his public and corporate workshops.
David Huntley
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Linda E. Ticlell on 15 April 2010
Format: Paperback
This is one of those rare publications. Packed full of reader friendly, inspirational techniques that really work! Whether your vital conversation is with employee, employer, friend, foe or worse, the book provides the type of guidance that quite simply isn't available elsewhere. I wish I had discovered these techniques and ways of thinking, years ago.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Johnny the Fish on 19 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a very easy read and contains clear accounts of both the process of conflict and ways of resolving it. As a social work practitioner I used this book with a family who had raised numerous complaints about their sons care. Purchasing five copies the care team and the family read the book and used the key concepts to recognise and defuse conflicts before they became disabling. The outcome was a win win for the care team and the family - mutual understanding was increased, differences were recognised at an early stage, and more relaxed and trusting relationships emerged as we gathered round problems rather than taking positions at the earliest stage. It was particularly rewarding to hear concepts in the book being referred to and discussed when conflicts began to surface. The cessation of complaints was the most tangible effect of this very practical and friendly guide leaving practitioners able to focus on giving care.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whatley on 12 April 2010
Format: Paperback
We all find ourselves in 'tight' spots when it comes to needing to have a really important conversation. Whether its with a colleague at work who is negatively affecting our opportunity to perform, a friend and a personal relationship or a loved one who is acting in a way that is just plain upsetting! This book is a practical help for anyone in need of its advice, or simply an easy read with lots of useful learning for the future. Probably more directly aimed for support in a business or commercial environment the fast paced narrative is easy to read and retain; I particularly liked the 'real' examples that brought the context alive. I found myself keen to actually 'try out' what I had learned, and practise always makes perfect, the techniques that are recommended really do work!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Megan Reitz on 27 May 2010
Format: Paperback
I design and deliver leadership development programmes and I often cover the subject of difficult conversations with participants: the problems in building up the courage to have them and the consequences of not having them. This book is the best book available by far on the subject matter and so I have already been recommending it. It is easy to read, practical, but it isn't simplistic like some other books out there. It tackles the difficulties head on and offers some really straightforward advice. I think as well, what makes it especially helpful is it offers so much encouragement and confidence that these conversations can be engaged in in a way that makes you wonder why on earth you didn't have them earlier. Very recommended read.
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