Summary of Powerful Conversations

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Powerful Conversations book summary


7 Overall

8 Applicability

6 Innovation

6 Style


When you talk, do people listen? Communicating effectively is essential in the business world. It is the first step in the path toward leadership. While other business books discuss leadership as a whole, this one focuses in on one of the most basic - and often overlooked - prerequisites to leadership: excellent communication skills. While most of the suggestions presented in Powerful Conversations seem like simple common sense, the book does get you to focus on critical points that you probably take for granted, like building trust, preparing in advance for potentially touchy conversations and actually listening to what other people say. In addition, it offers some helpful conversational strategies and pointers for determining when your meeting is heading south. getAbstract recommends this book to executives in leadership positions, who will be reminded to brush up on their conversational style and delivery, and to business people and students looking to talk their way to the top.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why good communication is not easy;
  • How to develop strong communication skills; and
  • Why trust is an important aspect of successful conversations.

About the Author

Phil Harkins is president of Linkage, Inc., a global organizational development company he founded in 1988. Prior to creating Linkage, he held both domestic and international senior management positions at Keane, Inc. and Raytheon Co. Harkins and Warren Bennis, who wrote the book’s introduction, co-chair Linkage’s Global Institute for Leadership Development. Much of the material used in Powerful Conversations was formulated while studying with Chris Argyris of Harvard University.



Tough Talk
Although most people don’t realize it, good conversations drive action. For example, most CEOs hold regular meetings with their vice presidents and other key individuals. What they do at these meetings is talk. They don’t speak for the sake of mere conversation; they speak for...

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