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Successful people confront well. They know that setting healthy boundaries improves relationships and can solve important problems. They have discovered that uncomfortable situations can be avoided or resolved through direct conversation. But most of us don’t know how to have difficult conversations, and see confrontation as scary or adversarial. Authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend take the principles from their bestselling book, Boundaries, and apply them to a variety of the ...
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Successful people confront well. They know that setting healthy boundaries improves relationships and can solve important problems. They have discovered that uncomfortable situations can be avoided or resolved through direct conversation. But most of us don’t know how to have difficult conversations, and see confrontation as scary or adversarial. Authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend take the principles from their bestselling book, Boundaries, and apply them to a variety of the most common difficult situations and relationships in order to:
• Show how healthy confrontation can improve relationships
• Present the essentials of a good boundary-setting conversation
• Provide tips on preparing for the conversation
• Show how to tell people what you want, stop bad behavior, and deal with counterattack
• Give actual examples of conversations to have with your spouse, your date, your kids, your coworker, your parents, and more!
Why You Need to Have That
1 The Talk Can Change Your Life...15
2 The Benefits of a Good Conversation...20
The Essentials of a Good Conversation
3 Be Emotionally Present...35
4 Be Clear about “You” and “I”.38
5 Clarify the Problem...41
6 Balance Grace and Truth...44
7 Stay on Task ...47
8 Use the Formula, When You Do “A,” I Feel “B”...51
9 Affirm and Validate…54
10 Apologize for Your Part in the Problem...59
11 Avoid “Shoulds”…62
12 Be an Agent for Change...66
13 Be Specific...70
14 Differentiate between Forgiving and Trusting ...74
Seeing How It’s Done
15 Telling People
What You Want...81
16 Making Someone Aware of a Problem...103
17 Stopping a Behavior ...126
18 Dealing with Blame, Counterattack,
and Other Problems...157
Getting Yourself Ready to Have the
19 Why You Need to Be Ready ...183
20 How to Get Ready...188
Having the Difficult Conversation with People in Your Life
21 With Your Spouse...207
22 With Someone You’re Dating...219
23 With Your Child...232
24 With Your Parent...243
25 With Adult Children...256
26 At Work...264
27 With People in Authority...276
Speaking the Truth in Love...287
Small Group Dicussion Guide...291
The Talk Can
Change Your Life
As we speak around the country at conferences on relationships,
we will often hear some version of the following story.
A man will come up and say, 'Thanks for your materials on setting limits and boundaries. They have changed my life and my marriage.'
We will say, 'Thank you, too. So what book did you read?'
'I didn't read a book,' the man will say. 'My wife did!'
He will go on to explain: 'I was a crummy communicator with my wife. I controlled her, I had some bad habits, and I had no spiritual life to speak of. Then she read Boundaries, and she started applying the principles. That's when things started changing for both of us. It took some time and effort, but I'm really different now. We are closer, and we have more respect for each other and more freedom in the relationship. I'm doing a lot better with those bad habits, and I'm waking up to my relationship with God.'
You would normally expect someone to talk about a book he has actually read. However, this man's unexpected response illustrates a reality: The person who has the problem in a relationship often isn't taking responsibility for his problem. This was bad news for the man's wife. She wanted to see change, but he either didn't see a problem, thought it wasn't a big issue, or thought his wife was overreacting. This can leave the wife who cares for her husband feeling helpless, discouraged, and less able to feel love in her heart for him.
But there is good news. Though the person with the problem may not be taking responsibility for, or 'owning,' the problem, the person affected by the problem can change things. You may be the motivated one, the one who is concerned, sees the problem, and feels discomfort from it, whether it be a bad attitude or a bad behavior. In fact, you may be feeling more pain and discomfort than the other person. In our example, the wife, before confronting her husband,
most likely had to deal with isolation, lack of freedom, his bad habits, and the emptiness of not having a spiritual partner.
Things can change when the person experiencing the effects of the problem takes the initiative to resolve it. This wife took the first step. She became aware that her husband's ways weren't good for either of them and that nothing would change unless she did something herself.
That first step is often a conversation, a talk, a face-to-face confrontation with the other person. It is a conversation in which the two people discuss the problem and what can be done about it. It is a talk of truth. That single conversation may be all that's needed. But more likely, it will be the beginning of a series of conversations and events, as it was with the marriage in our example.
We want to affirm and validate your decision to have 'the conversation you have been avoiding.' How to have that conversation is the core need this book addresses. You need a caring yet honest and effective way to confront someone in your life. The Bible teaches --- and research supports the idea --- that you can develop the skills and tools to be able to confront well.
Things can changewhen the person experiencing the effects of the problem takes the initiative to resolve it.
What Is a Boundary?
Before we go further, however, we need to define a term that will come up a lot in this book: boundary.
Simply put, a boundary is your personal 'property line.' It defines who you are, where you end, and where others begin. It refers to the truth, to reality, to what is. When you confront someone about a problem, you are setting a boundary. You can set a boundary with your words when you are honest and when you establish a consequence for another's hurtful actions.
Boundaries help define who we are in our relationships. When we know what we want and do not want, what we are for and against,
what we love and hate, what is 'me' and what is 'not me,' we are setting boundaries. People with good boundaries are clear about their opinions, beliefs, and attitudes --- in the way that Jesus taught:
'Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one' (Matt. 5:37). People without clear boundaries are unsure of their opinions, feelings, and beliefs. They find themselves easily controlled by the demands of others because they feel unsure of themselves when they need to take a stand.
Boundaries also help protect us from injury and harm. By setting boundaries we can take responsibility for the lives and gifts
God has given us: 'Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life' (Prov. 4:23). Boundaries protect our values, feelings,
time, energy, and attitudes. When a person says to another, 'I
want you to stop criticizing me in public,' he is setting a protective boundary.
God himself has boundaries. He designed them and lives them out. He is clear on who he is, what he is for, and what he is against. He is for relationship, truth, love, and honesty, and he is against oppression, injustice, sin, and evil: 'For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity' (Isa. 61:8). (For more information on boundaries, please refer to our books Boundaries, Boundaries in
Marriage, Boundaries with Kids, and Boundaries in Dating.)
In this book we deal with one specific aspect of boundaries: We tell you how to set them by having a helpful and effective 'talk'
with another person. We will sometimes refer to that confrontation as a boundary conversation, that is, a talk with someone in which you confront a problem you want to resolve with the person.
Posted March 11, 2009
Are you an inadvertant enabler? Do others take advantage of you before you even realize it? Are you simply burned out from helping everyone else with their problems such that you have no peace left in your own life? Then this is the book for you. It gives you a hands-on approach (from a Biblical perspective) to dealing with others truthfully and gracefully so that you can handle life's tough situations, but still have peace in your own life.
Stand up for yourself. Take time for yourself. Accept the things you cannot change, and move on.
I would suggest that you also read "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend along with this book. "Boundaries" gives you the principles to live by, and this book helps you to effectively put those principles into practice.
This recommendation comes from a person who knows: I am an attorney who was stressed out and nearly burned out, and this book literally changed my life.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2008
This book has transformed the lives of many women that have sat under my teaching and counseling. Upon learning the valuable lessons in this book and incorporating them into every day life, EMPOWERMENT has been the result! I highly recommend this great read. Your life can be transformed IF you use these invaluable tools.
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Posted February 13, 2013
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Posted October 18, 2013
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