Last year around this time I shared my suggested reading list for those of you interested in resolving conflict, strengthening personal and work relationships and negotiating better for yourselves. With the cool overnights reminding me about curling up with a good book while the woodstove warms my toes, and with the gift-giving season coming up, I thought I’d update my annual list and suggest my current favorites.
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander. I’ve had this book for a while and like to re-read it periodically, both because it’s packed with wisdom and because it’s uplifting and hopeful. The authors describe 12 practices to help you see the possibilities behind even the most frustrating or difficult situations. The stories are funny, joyous and I promise this book will draw you in from the very first page.
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. This book has been on my favorites list since it was first published several years ago. My grad students and other adults consistently tell me how practical and helpful the book’s wisdom is, even if there’s a bit too much of it to absorb in one sitting. I recommend reading it once through, then periodically re-visiting sections that most grabbed your attention.
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. The success of Difficult Conversations has sparked a whole series of similar books, and this is one of the better ones. Scott proposes seven guiding principles for fierce (passionate, authentic and collaborative) conversations, and suggests “assignments” to help you apply the principles practically.
Crucial Confrontations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny and others. This book is for those of you who find confrontations daunting as well as for those of you who confront easily but not with particular grace. A comfortable read with lots of good examples and strategies, using even one or two of the gems in this book should help you effectively confront the disappointments you’ve experienced through the acts (or lack thereof) of others.
Negotiate This! by Herb Cohen. Written by the acclaimed author of You Can Negotiate Anything, this terrific follow-up stands on its own. A witty, compelling read, this book’s filled with on-target advice and insights that help you not only be a better negotiator, but also, as one reviewer notes, a better person.
Beyond Blame by Jeffrey Kottler. This is perennially on my favorites list because so many folks have told me how profoundly helpful it has been to their understanding of blame and its sources. If you’re interested in looking inward at how you manage your own conflicts, you’ll find this book’s insights engaging and the journey worthwhile.
I Thought We’d Never Speak Again: The Road from Estrangement to Reconciliation by Laura Davis. Differentiating reconciliation from forgiveness, Davis invites you to consider how to make personal peace in the very difficult circumstances of a relationship torn apart. If there’s a gap in your life where someone important used to be, this one’s worth your time.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. This entertaining book takes you on an exploration of the choices we seem to make “in the blink of an eye.” With fascinating anecdotes from neuroscience and psychology, Gladwell helps you consider how to make better decisions by allowing your instincts to inform the “thinking” part of your brain.
This article was originally published in my regular column for The Monadnock Ledger.
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