(Review) The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks That Matter by Lori Stanley Roeleveld

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Publisher and Publication Date: Kregel. February 19, 2019.
Genre: Nonfiction. Communication.
Pages: 240.
Source: NetGalley ebook. I received a complimentary copy, but was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.
Audience: Christian readers who want to learn to engage in hard conversations.

Amazon link

 

Lorie Stanley Roeleveld’s links:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads

I was not raised to be a communicator. Communication was not encouraged in the home where I grew up. My parents wrestled with communicating, both choosing to communicate in polar opposite ways. And, unfortunately the boys I dated, and the man I married, did not communicate effectively. Even as a child I desperately wanted to communicate well. It has come about over the course of many years, I have learned to be a better communicator. I’m not there yet. It is a work in progress.
After an email from Kregel about this book choice for review, I was immediately drawn to it. I enjoyed reading The Art of Hard Conversations and feel it is an excellent tool. I actually took eight pages of notes while reading the book!

The Art of Hard Conversation is divided in three parts, holding 14 units, with lessons in each unit:
1. Perspectives and Personalities-Understanding and Embracing the Challenge
2. Prepare for Success
3. Putting the Art into Practice

The introduction title is a question: Why Bother Having Hard Conversations? (Why Is It an Art?)
The reason is our conversations “could impact someone’s life forever.”
Conversations cover a large territory, whether it is people we work with or family. The most important conversation is sharing the Gospel with someone.
The Art of Hard Conversations is compared to “martial art” and “performing art.”
The lessons in each unit have an introduction Scripture, illustration, teaching points, and an ARTwork section. The ARTwork section has questions for reflection, Bible reading, and an activity for practice.
Early in the book, Unit 1, there are three types of people explained: hawk-swooping down to a conversation; a turtle-slow at talking or responding; and a chameleon who modifies “without compromising our message.”

Reasons why I love this book:
•Roeleveld teaches several things that I benefited from immediately: don’t try to be a hero in the conversation, and don’t try to change the other person. My task is to communicate.
•The illustrations in the lessons are broad and varied examples all readers can relate to and learn.
•Something I knew but liked hearing: to remain silent is sometimes the right thing to do.
•Six important questions to ask before a hard conversation takes place.
•Prep our conversation beforehand. For example: write out on paper what we want to talk about. This helps us to be clear.
•Be careful about the emotions going on during the conversation. God is my strength and anchor, and not my fears and feelings.
•”God doesn’t hold us responsible for other people’s feelings, and we shouldn’t take that on.”
•Just because I feel the urge to talk about something doesn’t mean it’s the right time to do so.
•Later in the book boundaries are discusses. This includes a section on dealing with someone who has painful memories of other hard conversations.
•Redemptive speech. This is something I’m learning as a children’s leader in Bible Study Fellowship. Redemptive words hold love, truth, and are Biblical.

Final Thoughts:
The Art of Hard Conversations is a jewel. It is filled with knowledge, wisdom, and applicable for all areas of life. The book can be read cover to cover or in sections. It is a great book to stay on the book shelf for future help. It is a great book for small groups or couples who want to work on conversation.

 

 

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