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now discover you strengthsHow 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
ISBN: 0787955353
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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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