· books communication feedback book-review

Discussing the Undiscussable: Book Review

I came across the work of Chris Argyris at the start of the year and in a twitter conversation with Benjamin Mitchell he suggested that Bill Noonan’s ‘Discussing the Undiscussable’ was the most accessible text for someone new to the subject.

In the book Noonan runs through a series of different tools that Chris Argyris originally came up with for helping people to handle difficult conversational situations more effectively.

I really like the way the book is written.

A lot of books of this ilk come across to me as being very idealistic but Noonan avoids that by describing his own mistakes in trying to implement Argyris’ ideas. This makes the book much more accessible to me.

He also repeatedly points out that even though you might understand the tools that doesn’t mean that you’ll be an expert in using them unless you spend a significant amount of time practicing.

These were some of the ideas that stood out for me from my reading over the last few months:

Of course there are several other tools that Noonan describes, such as the left hand right hand case study approach, double loop learning, espoused theory vs theory in action and the mutual learning model.

I still make loads of the mistakes that the book points out and I’ve noticed that I only really reflect on how my conversations are going when I’ve been flicking through the book relatively recently.

It’s also useful to be hanging around other people who are studying Argyris’ work as you can then help each other out.

One of the initial books that Chris Argyris published describing these tools was ‘Action Science’ (available as a free PDF).

I initially tried reading that before this book but I found it a bit hard to follow but I’ll probably try it again at some stage.

  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Pocket