Book Reviews: Talking, Arguing and being Assertive.

Communication in this world is key to everything,  and these three new books from Prentice Hall / Pearson take the art of communication to three distinct areas, Talking, Arguing and being Assertive.

How You Can Talk to Anyone in Every Situation

Many of us find that first contact a little daunting; walking into a room full of strangers can silence even the most outgoing of people, but with Emma Sargent and Tim Fearon’s book anything is possible.Tim’s acting career and Emmas business experience meld seamlessly into a book that can be used as a manual for overcoming those intangible barriers that we put up around ourselves.

Their premise is that all talking is about belief, confidence, preparation and application – knowing what you want to say and finding a way to do it. There is also a chapter on how you know when to stop talking, something that can come with nerves or inexperience. It all boils down to those four basics, and this is a good solid example of a book that tries to help the reader make the most of their communicative talents. It’s well worth the investment in time to try some of the techniques proposed by the authors. A handy book in a world full of talking.

How to Argue

Jonathan Herring’s book on how to argue, is something that I thought I knew how to do already. But it’s not about the ranting that we all want to do when connected to a call centre overseas, or discovering that a parking ticket has been placed on our car when we’d left it for ’only five minutes’. Jonathan’s book attempts to  dissect the techniques that need to be used in order that an argument concentrates on the facts, and doesn’t descend into something more personal.

The book talks about the tactics of an argument. Is it between two people acting as agents for two organisations, or is it a more personal contract? There is more to an argument than simply stating the facts and expecting a positive result. As with any negotiation (and this is what an argument is), there are false avenues of discussion, deliberate  distractions and the final dénouement when the real business of the conversation takes place.

This is a book that I found very enlightening, and one that I will employ then next time I need to talk to an overseas call centre. You never know I might come out on top this time.

How to be Assertive in Any Situation

The final book in this trilogy is the book on being assertive. Assertiveness is different to aggression in that it is about putting a stake in the ground about who you are, but recognising that other people have the right to do the same. Aggression is about threats and dismissals, whereas assertiveness is about confidence and certainty.

Looking to be an assertive person, is something that requires a knowledge of who you are, and a confidence that you’re happy in yourself to be a person that you are comfortable with. It is about responsibility for things that go wrong that are your fault, and recognising that we all need space – physical and mental, to live our lives productively. It is also about limits. One of the examples used in the book is that of Rosa Parks who as a black woman refused to get up from a Whites-only seat in a segregated bus. When asked why she did it, she said that she hadn’t planned to do it but that she’d decided to stand up for her rights as black people had endured too much for too long.

If you feel unassertive, read the book but you may also want to think about assertiveness training. This can help you build your own confidence, deal with aggressive behaviour and avoid being in a passive state.

Sue Hadfield and Gill Hasson have written an excellent book that anyone can use to start changing their lives to become more positive and assertive. I can totally recommend it to anyone who feels that they could do with a little magic to transform their lives.

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