“Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott

book cover

Subtitle: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a Time

Recommended to me by: Jessie Link

Susan Scott is a consultant to corporate CEOs, coaching them in fierce conversations. While the book does include some non-work examples, and carefully mixes or avoids pronouns, it also fails to address the power dynamics and mostly homogeneous demographics of CEOs. I found it difficult to see myself in some of the corporate examples, especially when the focus was on Susan Scott’s consulting business.

At the same time, there was a lot in the book that resonated for me.

“Successful relationships require that all parties view getting their core needs met as being legitimate.”

“There is something within us that responds deeply to people who level with us.”

Fierce conversations are defined as “robust, intense, strong, powerful, passionate, eager, unbridled.” They avoid blame and attack.

7 Principles:

  1. Master the courage to interrogate reality. Reality keeps changing. What are you pretending not to know?
  2. Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.
  3. Be here, prepared to be nowhere else. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person.
  4. Tackle your toughest challenge today.
  5. Obey your instincts. Trust your perceptions, but don’t be attached to them.
  6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake. The conversation is the relationship. Share appreciation and praise. Speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.
  7. Let silence do the heavy lifting.

    I had the most trouble with Principle 4. While some people need encouragement to tackle challenges, others need encouragement to step back, or to take the smallest possible step forward at a time.

    The book includes frameworks for difficult conversations, and exercises for becoming more honest and self-aware.

    Available at Powell’s Books.

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