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

  • 3h 57m
  • Holly Weeks
  • Harvard Business Press
  • 2010

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.

About the Author

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.

In this Book

  • Failure to Communicate—How Conversations Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Right Them
  • Introduction—When Conversations Go Wrong
  • Anatomy of Hard Talks
  • What’s Wrong with What We Do
  • Rethinking What We Do—Finding Balance
  • Acting Unilaterally
  • Conversational Warfare and the Combat Mentality
  • Out of Combat—Changing the Game
  • Caught Up in Emotions
  • Out of Emotion’s Grip—Increasing Skill
  • Working Blind in the “Breakdown Gap”
  • Out of the Breakdown Gap—Strategy and Tactics
  • Conclusion—Getting Back on Track
  • Notes