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How to Have Impossible Conversations

Written by: Peter Boghossian,James Lindsay
Narrated by: Peter Boghossian
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Publisher's Summary

From politics and religion to workplace negotiations, ace the high-stakes conversations in your life with this indispensable guide from a persuasion expert.

In our current political climate, it seems impossible to have a reasonable conversation with anyone who has a different opinion. Whether you're online, in a classroom, an office, a town hall—or just hoping to get through a family dinner with a stubborn relative—dialogue shuts down when perspectives clash. Heated debates often lead to insults and shaming, blocking any possibility of productive discourse. Everyone seems to be on a hair trigger.

In How to Have Impossible Conversations, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay guide you through the straightforward, practical, conversational techniques necessary for every successful conversationwhether the issue is climate change, religious faith, gender identity, race, poverty, immigration, or gun control. Boghossian and Lindsay teach the subtle art of instilling doubts and opening minds. They cover everything from learning the fundamentals for good conversations to achieving expert-level techniques to deal with hardliners and extremists. This book is the manual everyone needs to foster a climate of civility, connection, and empathy.

"This is a self-help book on how to argue effectively, conciliate, and gently persuade. The authors admit to getting it wrong in their own past conversations. One by one, I recognize the same mistakes in me. The world would be a better place if everyone read this book."—Richard Dawkins, author of Science in the Soul and Outgrowing God

©2019 Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay (P)2019 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"This is a self-help book on how to argue effectively, conciliate, gently persuade. The authors admit to getting it wrong in their own past conversations. One by one, I recognize the same mistakes in me. The world would be a better place if everyone read this book."—Richard Dawkins, author of Science in the Soul and Outgrowing God

"In a Free Republic there would be no 'impossible conversations', which begs the question: are we truly free anymore? After reading, listening and conversing with Peter and James, I am convinced that they are the Galileo's, I. Kant and even William Tynsdale of our time."—Glenn Beck

"I thought I knew all I needed to know about conversations and arguments. I was wrong. I just knew a lot about debates and rows. In their insightful and highly readable new book, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay offer all kinds of ingenious pathways to constructive dialogue. At a time when public discourse has degenerated into mud-slinging and when campuses favour every kind of diversity except viewpoint diversity, this is an invaluable contribution. I guarantee that reading it will make you more—much more—persuasive."—Niall Ferguson, Milbank Family Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford

What listeners say about How to Have Impossible Conversations

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent toolkit for polarized times

Fantastic work, and easy to implement. Bawling with friends and family over divisive topics has become the norm, and ends up fruitless. These tools can help them do the work of changing their own minds, while also making you take a look at your own cherished beliefs, if you're up to it. Great listen.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

ODD and ADHD parents should read!

K I bought this book cuz sometimes at work I have to have really hard conversations. Didnt know itd ve a parenting book! So I also have a son with ADHD and ODD we've been working with him seeing lots of progress but it was really hard to have some conversations with him. I always got stuck or he always got bored and stopped paying attention. Well I've been applying the techniques in this book to talk to him and I'm getting through! I've read so many parenting books which have helped but I dunno this books hitting different in a very good way!

Anyways 5 stars can see this helping in many different life scenarios!

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8 people found this helpful

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Thank you, Boghossian!

An extremely engaging and helpful guide to having difficult or impossible conversations. Anyone should be able to benefit from the utility of this book. The lessons within are relevant to every facet of life, and can be practiced with friends, family, and even strangers on the bus. This book has changed the way i approach every conversation, and has me leaving each one with a better understanding of myself, others, and the world in general. The narration of one of the authors (Boghossian) himself allows the lessons within to come across clearly, which is an added bonus. 10/10 would recommend.

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7 people found this helpful

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  • JMS
  • 2020-10-06

Helpful framework that requires practice

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”

Listen to the audiobook review on Audiobook Reviews in Five Minutes podcast: https://podcast.jannastam.com/

Would you like to have more productive conversations with people who think differently than you or strongly disagree with you? Hint: it’s unlikely to happen online. While many fear that conversations about politics, religion, and values are a futile endeavour these days, this audiobook may encourage you to persevere in your attempts to connect with others who hold what might seem to be intractable points of view.

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7 people found this helpful

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This book is an amazing resource

This book is full of very practical techniques that care about the individual you are speaking with. I could not stop listening to it and found it very engaging and useful.

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3 people found this helpful

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Very interesting, well done

I need the accompanying book to make it a totally worthwhile listen.
The ideas and discussion at play needs more contemplation than I can get simply from listening.

Overall though it was a though provoking listen.

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3 people found this helpful

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  • NP
  • 2023-01-26

Good strategies but the guy wears his atheism on his sleeve

I thought the strategies could be useful overall (some definitely seem manipulative though) but the author, I now realize, is a staunch atheist and many of the examples are to counter Christian beliefs. It would be nice if the shoe was on the other foot once in a while. The author seems to have certainty that his view is right which, as he mentions later in the section about ideologues, makes having a conversation impossible.

While I understand a book about impossible conversations shouldn’t shy away from religion, there is a clear agenda here. His other book is a guide to “convert” people to atheism. Hmmm.

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2 people found this helpful

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  • Co2
  • 2022-11-26

Great book and very helpful to me

Enjoyed listening and learning this well thought out book. techniques and strategies to work with difficult people were easy to understand but I will likely give this 2 or more listens to get the full wisdom.

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2 people found this helpful

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Very Thorough and Quality Advice on Communication

Very good tips on how to handle difficult conversations. It has a balance of advice for you to be more open minded, as well as how to breakthrough with people who disagree with you

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1 person found this helpful

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Loved it. Great conversation tools.

I love the self reflection tools and encouragement for learning. Great conversation tools too. Remember be like water.

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1 person found this helpful