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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up" (Michael D. Sedler)

TITLE: When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up: Principles for Conversations You Won't Regret
AUTHOR: Michael D. Sedler
PUBLISHER: Minneapolis, MN: Chosen Books, 2012, (160 pages).

Do you know when to speak up when needed? Do you know when to keep quiet? Are there practical way to discern when to do either of them? Michael Sedler has given us a book to constructively use and to control our tongues.

This is an old book (When to Speak Up and When Not To) republished under a new title.  Containing principles of conversations, the author aims to provide readers with practical tips and ideas on the merits of speaking and the wisdom of silence, to learn when to speak up when needed, and when to keep silence. With biblical backing, Sedler begins with a personal experience when counseling a couple named Ken and Sandra. Normally, counselors will not project their opinions on their clients. However, for Christian counselors, it is important to learn to provide biblical principles even during the counseling session. This is the approach Sedler takes for the entire book.

Beginning with some Bible examples and real life cases of why silence is not always golden, one needs to confront any excuses for the failure to speak up for the good when needed. When speaking up, Sedler gives four principles on how to confront problems that require speaking up. Self-examination is key prior to questioning others. He also gives four principles to prevent communications breakdown. He cautions readers from adopting any of the six wrong ways to ask questions, and subsequently provides a long checklist on how to ask questions constructively. There are also many tips with regards to self-control, managing our anger or resentment, and avoiding strife and overcoming peer pressure in order to do the right thing.

My Thoughts

Like a wave, Sedler ebbs back and forth the merits and demerits of silence and speaking up, always pointing readers toward practical and constructive ways to build relationships either through the wisdom of silence or the discernment of right words. The last chapter of the book is a personal description of Sedler's own journey, his conversion to Christianity, his interest in social work, and many "final thoughts" on how silence and speaking up can change lives.

If you have always wanted to control your tongue, and yet desire to speak constructively, but not know how, this book is a gift. The steps are very easy to understand and take boldness in order to practise them. If any of the principles you use can save a relationship, this book would have brought you mighty dividends from the cost of the book.

What attracted me to this book is my sense of how important it is for leaders to know when to speak and when to shut up. Leadership is essentially about relating to people, and to relate in ways that are helpful to them, and to the community they serve. I admit that many of the ideas look very much like common sense. The fault is not the author. The problem is in the rest of us in the world who needs reminders all the time. This book is a gentle reminder of our need to communicate well, whether in speech or in silence.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Chosen Books and Graf-Martin Communications (Canadian Leadership Resource Program) without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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