Books that can change the way we think about work, or about life. And some books that have the possibility of changing the way we think about both.
Today, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey’s How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, which lays out with clarity and precision the inner and outer ‘immune system’ that both protects us and makes personal and organisational change so difficult.
What we can’t usually see, the authors argue, is that as well as our enormous capacity to develop and change, each of us has within us a powerful set of hidden assumptions about the world that keep us within tight bounds. They keep us safe from the unknown, or from shame and embarrassment. But when our efforts to change bring us up against these assumptions we’re quickly stirred into fear or anxiety – as if we’re about to step off the edge of the known world. And until we can see that we’re experiencing this, and begin to test the edge for its accuracy and reality, change remains extraordinarily difficult – even change that’s sincerely desired.
The book describes practical and razor-sharp ways of working with our hidden immune system, both for ourselves and for the organisations in which we work. And it offers a powerful corrective to our attempts to push or force ourselves and others to change, and to the unhelpful language of ‘resistance’ that brings it about.
Passionate, wise, humane and clear – I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to bring about meaningful change in themselves or in their organisation.