The Dance of Connection
By Harriet Lerner
Good communication is the key to successful relationships. However, in marriage and other intimate relationships both men and women complain that they stop being heard and fail to communicate with the other person. The resulting conflict only leads to pain, frustration, silence and anger. This book aims to show how to articulate your true self and transform your relationships. It contains advice on: making yourself heard; developing an authentic voice that reflects the true you; increase your capacity to give and receive love by communicating in new ways; speaking with honour and personal integrity even when the other person behaves badly; and breaking out of established bad patterns of communication, such as passive-aggression, criticism and defensiveness. There are also case histories and strategies to follow.
In her most profound book yet, Dr. Harriet Lerner takes us beyond The Dance of Anger and shows us how to "find our voice" with the people who matter the most. With wit and wisdom, Lerner shows us how to "set things right" and heal the most painful disconnections. The Dance of Connection tackles the most difficult problems we face with the people who hurt us:What is the "two step" that will transform any conversation?How do we find our voice when we are rejected or cut off? And why won't the person who has harmed us apologize?How do we take a conversation to the next level when we feel desperate?What positive steps can we take when the other person is wearing us down with criticism, negativity, excuses, demands, or irresponsible behavior?How do we put an insensitive parent on the hot seat?Lerner reveals a startling new definition of what it means to have an "authentic voice" -- one that runs counter to the automatic ways we try to speak our truths. The Dance of Connection goes beyond "communication techniques" to provide bold and innovative "voice lessons." Lerner tells us when to lighten up and let things go, and when we need to take specific steps to heal betrayals, inequalities, and broken connections, Whether we're hurting in marriage, family, or friendship, we learn how to speak with honor and personal integrity even when the other person behaves badly -- or won't talk at all.Our capacity for creativity, vitality, and joy depend on connecting well with the key people in our lives. Lerner teaches us how to navigate our most difficult relationships with integrity, courage, and joyous conviction.
Psychotherapist and bestselling author Lerner has been teaching readers how to "dance" with difficult relationship issues throughout the past decade, and remains one of the most helpful writers on the topic. With her familiar mix of conversational language and profound empathy for people (primarily women) who are struggling with the most important relationships in their lives, she now tackles the verbal challenges of life's most painful conversations. Far from trite "communication skills" or "assertiveness training," her book offers lucid and concrete guidance on how to speak out in a wide variety of problem situations (e.g., when a wife suspects her husband is having an affair with a co-worker, or when friends jeopardize their relationship by becoming roommates). Lerner moves smoothly through the common obstacles to understanding how we feel, how we want to express ourselves and what we want to accomplish by talking about our feelings. Recognizing that "your brain will turn to mush" when trying to explain yourself in an emotional state, she offers practical advice on sharing vulnerability; voicing concerns, complaints or requests; apologizing; listening and setting limits on how much one is willing to listen to others' complaints and negativity. Accepting that we can never guarantee that others will hear us or respond as we'd like, Lerner focuses on the authentic expression of self, "maximiz[ing] the chance of being heard" and keeping the connection open, despite complex emotions, misunderstandings and silences.
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