cover image Brave Talk: Building Resilient Relationships in the Face of Conflict

Brave Talk: Building Resilient Relationships in the Face of Conflict

Melody Stanford Martin. Broadleaf, $17.99 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-5064-6244-8

Martin, cohost of the Irenicast podcast, instructs readers on how to disagree with respect in this insightful debut. She begins by describing how to understand impasses—particularly how fear works at the center of conflict—and how power disparities can shape impasses: those in disagreement, she argues, need to compromise as equals to find a resolution. She then discusses why disagreements are necessary, ways to disagree well, how to navigate tough emotions that come with impasses, and tools for learning how to ask better questions. For example, she recommends “mirroring” by repeating back unclear statements and asking if you’ve understood correctly. Martin uses personal anecdotes throughout (including her own challenges with family members) and clever illustrations, flowcharts, and reflection questions to bolster her lesson: “Something powerful happens when we treat every disagreement and every conflict as if it is an impasse... when we take the time to first, before anything else, see others, we will learn some vitally important things about their world.” Appendices examine skills such as navigating the 10 most common conversation hazards (trolling, “wearing the crown”) and holding respectful conversations on social media. Martin’s useful suggestions will help those on both sides of disagreements engage in more constructive conversations. (July)