As Ken Blanchard notes in his foreword to this book, a course in conversations won't be found in an M.B.A. curriculum. But the key to real business success, according to author Susan Scott, is what she calls "fierce conversation," an honest, meaningful, authentic exchange between two people. Reminding us that "the conversation is the relationship," she counsels us to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.
An offshoot of Scott's international consulting firm, Fierce Conversations Inc., this book lasts as long as a Monday morning shuttle. Yet its thesis, that relationships both professional and personal hinge on how conversations go, and that the best conversations require determinedly gentle honesty and a willingness to listen, lingers long enough to make an impact. "It takes a certain fearlessness to make your private thoughts public. But if what you're thinking makes you squirm and wish to wriggle away, you are probably onto something," she says. On the book's Web site, a streaming-video talk feels fake and rehearsed. But Scott's written words contain substance and, as an author, she's levelheaded and funny. She quotes a wide variety of writers, from Ernest Hemingway to Maya Angelou to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and clearly explains her key concepts, including "obey your instincts" and "let silence do the heavy lifting." Careerist marketing ploy it may be, but this cleanly written, if cliche-laden, book boasts enough psychological sensitivity to merit success. Those whose conversations with co-workers or family members aren't producing the results they want will find plenty of helpful tools and assignments in this succinct guide. Agent, Margret McBride. (On sale Sept. 16) Forecast: A 12-city author tour and a CBS/Bloomberg Network radio feature will engage readers in conversation about this book. It has the potential to break out of the business genre into general self-help. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.