cover image Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations

Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations

Sam Horn. New World Library, $18.99 trade paper (360p) ISBN 978-1-608-68849-4

In this upbeat entry, executive coach Horn (Tongue Fu) shares tools to help the conflict-averse sharpen their communication skills. Horn writes that while humans are socialized to sidestep conflict, doing so has a lot of downsides—simmering anger, anxiety, and even burnout—but instead of “fighting fire with fire,” Horn writes that readers should do the opposite: use “positive, proactive responses” so others will respond in kind. First readers should work on their “interpersonal situational awareness,” or the ability to assess social situations, which can include thinking before speaking (“Will I be sorry I said this?”) or observing body language (“Is someone agreeing, yet their clenched jaw shows they’re resistant?”). Horn outlines ways to tackle issues such as being teased (avoid taking the taunter’s bait) and rudeness (using “friendly phrases that establish a tone of civility,” is a good defuser), and while some of the advice is easier said than done—such as the suggestion to grow a thicker skin—the grounding principles are clearheaded, and readers will be heartened by the message that they don’t have to sacrifice honesty for civility or vice versa. Wallflowers looking to step out of their comfort zone should pick this up. (June)