Finding the Words: Candid Conversations with Loved Ones

Finding the Words: Candid Conversations with Loved Ones

5.0 1
by Susan P. Halpern

Finding the Words offers principles and practical suggestions for those moments in relationships when one wants to be kind but also must discuss a sensitive matter. In thoughtful prose, Susan Halpern explains how to communicate with care in order to strengthen and increase our loving connections. The principles provided in the book—speaking from the


Finding the Words offers principles and practical suggestions for those moments in relationships when one wants to be kind but also must discuss a sensitive matter. In thoughtful prose, Susan Halpern explains how to communicate with care in order to strengthen and increase our loving connections. The principles provided in the book—speaking from the heart, stating intentions, and deep listening—enable readers to navigate difficult encounters.
Halpern draws on her years of experience as a psychotherapist, wife, and mother to suggest possible, scripted solutions and positive outcomes for a wide range of situations: a partner who needs to talk about the irritations of joint living, parents of an adult child who requires unexpected financial support, grandparents who don’t know how to intervene, siblings who disagree about politics or religion, and couples in times of crisis, illness, affairs, and divorce. An essential book for finding one’s way back to intimacy from conflict, nagging discomfort, and anger, Finding the Words teaches methods of responding, negotiating, and compromising. While there are numerous guides to relationships, no other book presents life situations—along with actual words that can be used to cope with them—with such vitality and wisdom.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Simple and profound reflections on the difficult art of speaking the truth to those we love."
—Sam Keen, author of Fire in the Belly

"Susan Halpern reminds us that the difference between relationships that last and those that don’t is often not love but honesty. Reading Finding the Words is like taking out an insurance policy on the most precious of our relationships. It will carry you through times of crisis and enable you to rebuild the relationships that are the foundation of your life, often making them stronger and better than before."
—Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather's Blessings

"It is a blessing to have such wise and considerate help for some of the most important conversations of your life."
—Jack Kornfield, Buddhist teacher and author of A Path with Heart

"Finding The Words is a one-of-a-kind treasure. It is a must-read for anyone navigating the often-tricky waters of effective and heartfelt conversations with loved ones. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Susan Halpern for bringing these inspiring stories and inspired principles into our lives. This book will save you countless hours of fear and frustration and maybe even a vital relationship or two."
—Charles A. Garfield, PhD, founder of Shanti and clinical professor of psychology, Department of Psychiatry, UCSF

"Challenging interactions and conversations are an inescapable part of life, but Susan Halpern’s words and wisdom help us navigate them."
—Roger Walsh, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology, University of California at Irvine and author of Essential Spirituality: The Seven Central Practices

"This book is a gift for anyone wanting to heal and deepen relationships at any stage of life. Susan Halpern’s wisdom, experience, and the light of compassion shine through the words that show us how to release old patterns of behavior and open our hearts to more love in our lives."
—Frances Vaughn, PhD, psychologist and author of Shadows of the Sacred

"Susan Halpern's second book turns out to be as valuable as her first, The Etiquette of Illness. I found Finding the Words to be an honest, open, and truthful aid in assisting individuals, families, and community members to find the necessary words to move through difficult life moments. I will keep this book on my desk as a reminder and a guide for those important life conversations with loved ones."
—Patricia de Jong, senior minister, First Congregational Church of Berkeley

“[Finding the Words] is so important, and would be a fantastic addition to anyone’s library. The pre-teen, teen, young adult and even Grandma can learn subtle, soothing ways to talk through difficult times…I have learned so many lessons already!”
Prissy Green

Product Details

North Atlantic Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.71(d)

Meet the Author

Susan P. Halpern, MSW, has been a social worker and psychotherapist for more than thirty years. Her first book, The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words, was praised by Bill Moyers, Cokie Roberts, and Dr. Andrew Weil and was excerpted in O, The Oprah Magazine. Halpern lives in Berkeley, CA.

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Finding the Words: Candid Conversations with Loved Ones 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Jack_Rosenblum More than 1 year ago
This is a truly remarkable book. On first reading, it appears to be an approach to handling sensitive family issues with suggested words for readers to incorporate into their family challenges. This by itself is valuable since some of the suggested words represent options that we probably hadn't considered and that would be far preferable to and far more effective than our accustomed way of dealing with the issues in question. But on further reflection, there is an underlying structure to the author's counsel, which I would portray (if it were possible in this book review format) in a diamond shape. On top would be the WORDS which Halpern provides in each situation. Beneath the WORDS would be the underlying qualities which are embodied in the words. Arrayed horizontally, these would include CALM, NEUTRALITY, CAREFUL LISTENING, and PLANNING. Once we discern and accept these screens, we can come up with our own words that might achieve the same ends as Halpern's, but in our own authentic verbal style. The bottom point of the diamond model would be LOVE. This is what drives the effort to find the right words to achieve harmony in difficult family relationships or situations. It takes a strong loving intention to think in advance about what to say, to listen carefully to the family member's feelings, concerns, and needs, and then to maintain the calm and neutrality that allows the other person to take in the love and respond with his or her best rather than worst. And as Halpern notes in a moving Afterword, not just in families but in any important relationship. So the overarching value of the book, in my opinion, is that by providing the model of how to find the right words, the author gives us the keys to the kingdom. To change the metaphor, she has not merely cooked us a nourishing meal, she has provided the recipe so we can continue to cook our own nourishing meals. Beyond the content, there is the prose style. It feels like a soft footfall. The writing is quiet and peaceful and full of hope that with effort born of love, we can come through and prevail. In Sartre's words: "Freedom lies on the far side of despair." Susan Halpern has made a significant contribution to helping us find that freedom.