How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work: Seven Languages for Transformationt
by Robert Kegan, List Laskow Lahey
New Jossey-Bass, 256 pp
Publication Date: November 2000
Coaches, this is a terrific book. Kegan and Lahey share a technology they have created that helps people discover
how their language keeps them caught in unsatisfying living, and the authors make this technology user-friendly and doable. I have found that these concepts translate
well for my clients, and they open doors that clients have said felt stuck for quite a long time.
One of the authors’ basic premises is that we may know
what we want, declare what we want, and even commit to what we want, and even do it out loud! -- and still not get there because inside each of us is a lurking
“competing commitment” that keeps us from realizing our desires. The authors give a framework, through exercises and worksheets, to help us uncover our competing
commitments and live more authentically – and this concept alone has proven very powerful for clients.
In addition, Kegan and Lahey offer many distinctions of language in this book, such as:
complaints vs. commitments
blame vs. personal responsibility
resolutions vs. competing commitments
assumptions that have us vs. assumptions we have
prizes and praising vs. ongoing regard
rules and policies vs. public agreement
constructive criticism vs. deconstructive criticism
These distinctions are carefully explained, the first four
being what Kegan and Lahey term “internal languages” that build a “mental machine” and the last three being “social languages,” which, when used as the authors
suggest, create different conversations in community. All of these distinctions are useful!
There are pause points and exercises throughout this
book, where, with journal at your side, you can apply the concepts to situations that you want to move through in your own life. Whether you are a leader in the workplace,
in the community, or someone who is dedicated to personal learning wherever you may be, this book offers ideas, motivation, and exciting technology to unearth old,
unproductive habits and create new ones in their place.