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The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate
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The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,111 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
In her most affirming and life-changing book yet, Dr. Harriet Lerner teaches us how to restore love and connection with the people who matter the most. In The Dance of Connection we learn what to say (and not say) when:

- We need an apology, and the person who has harmed us won't apologize or be accountable.
- We don't know how to take a conversation to the next level when w
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 6th 2002 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 21, 2013 Lori rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
Some difficult interactions with a few individuals have been wearing me down. My therapist recommended The Dance of Anger, but after reviewing Lerner's titles we decided this one would be more appropriate. While I don't feel as though I'm ready to resolve all these issues, the key message I took from this book was a focus on being true to oneself while still very respectfully interacting with people who are important to you. (Unexpected bonus: the idea that there are difficult people that you ma ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who want to connect more deeply
Shelves: inspirational

I liked this "Dance..." better than "The Dance of Fear." This one seemed more application-based, as the author provided a lot of examples of how people communicated, connected, and just plain showed up in normal and difficult situations. The book helped me to think simultaneously critically and gently about how I communicate/connect and how those I'm closest with communicate/connect. She had good information and examples about the different ways people connect. The book was focused mostly on
Brittany Wilmes
May 02, 2013 Brittany Wilmes rated it really liked it
Harriet Lerner's book (the first of hers I've read) goes beyond the typical psych-pop fluff, which tends to draw heavily on far-reaching and inconclusive research to prove an aggressive agenda (e.g., creativity is within everyone, exercise improves mood, you can train yourself to overcome X). Lerner approaches the subject of communication and family systems with compassion, experience, and most importantly, wisdom.

This wasn't a cut-and-dry How to Become A Functional Family in Six Easy Steps, but
Jun 16, 2015 Nicole rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
I'm not usually a reader of self-help books, but I make an exception for Harriet Lerner. Not only is she a gifted writer and story-teller, but unlike I imagine most of the genre, she most adamantly allows for imperfection. Quoting Mary Karr, Lerner embraces the fact that a dysfunctional family is where there is more than one person in it and that there is no such thing as the ideal family environment. Instead of defining a right and a wrong way to be, she simply tries to help people communicate ...more
Jan 04, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of books on psychology, pop, academic, and somewhere in between. Most of them offer a few insights that have been useful to me along the way. "Difficult Conversations" comes to mind -- check that book out if you have a teenager that you're having a hard time connecting with, for example.

But few of these books have had something even more useful than insight: wisdom. "The Dance of Connection" is that rarity, a book full of wisdom, and indeed holds back from offering easy insights
Feb 21, 2012 Deb rated it it was amazing
*First, we must learn to dance alone*

To me, this book is the closest thing to an instruction book on relating to others in ways that preserve the self. Harriet offers clear, insightful, and do-able advice on learning how to hear our own voice and then clearly (and courageously) share it with others. Throughout the book, she continually illuminates the theme of focusing on the self instead obsessing about the other. The dance of connection begins with learning how to gracefully dance alone.
Jan 08, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
Picked this up looking for some advice on having difficult conversations and how to create more intimacy and deeper connection in my relationships with others. Lerner does offer some helpful insights on these fronts, as well as some lovely advice on cultivating what she calls one's "authentic voice." I enjoyed reading many of her anecdotes, and the book as a whole was both easy to read and at times deeply profound. I definitely gained some strategies to use in my conversations with others, and f ...more
Apr 30, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
Loved this book. I bought Marriage Rules to help with some premarital counseling, and picked this one up as well. So good! I will definitely be checking out some of her other books.

"The self is always under construction.."
Dec 30, 2013 Sarah marked it as to-read
Hoping for the best, expecting...
Jul 23, 2016 Molly rated it it was amazing
Will be rereading! Excellent!!
Oct 23, 2015 Callie rated it really liked it
Dance of Connection is better than most self-help books. I may be a little biased since Harriet Lerner is from Topeka (my home). Nevertheless, she actually writes in a way that the concepts make sense, and also gives examples from both her practice and her life that are relatable. The book is not limited to romantic relationships--it talks about friendships, parents, other types of close relationships where communication may have broken down. I haven't read any of her other "Dance of..." books b ...more
Nov 06, 2008 Lia rated it liked it
Not as good as her other books.
Oct 21, 2014 Cindy marked it as to-read
I'm already getting into this book as well. Lerner explains that it's important for individuals to know where their ancestors come from, a lot of times we grow up learning certain communication styles and yet we don't feel like we belong to our first family.. Lerner explained that she knew someone who visited her Polish family and finally realized that she felt at home with them, because they too used their body to communicate - like waving her arms around while talking, however, she grew up WAS ...more
May 05, 2013 Lindsay rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I picked up this book at Barnes & Noble because I needed something to help me work through some bad patterns of mine. I'd intended to get a CBT workbook, but this book ended up speaking to me in ways I'm not sure the workbook would have done. Lerner brings grace and humor to her work, and she combines fierce feminism with an essential humility.

I especially like her recognition of the ways men and women are brought up - she engages with these distinct socializations rather than using them as
This book, and the other of Lerner's I've read (Dance of Anger) are so rich with insight and ideas and suggestions that I've held onto my library copy for days after it was due, despite the hounding to return it! I'll certainly want to own a copy and refer back often. It's great help for all kinds of stuck relationships and for developing a 'voice' to speak to them with, whether families, friends or significant others. She's really a treasure. Highly recommended!

Kelli Oliver George
Mar 15, 2014 Kelli Oliver George rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Harriet Lerner, but this book felt to me to be one of her weaker ones. In her earlier books, there were more action-oriented takeaways to be had -- the Dance of Anger is one that I have read several times (as I grow older myself and as new relationships, new jobs take hold, I have found that I always learn something new from the Dance of Anger)
Neil White
Jan 27, 2016 Neil White rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book, it is a great approach to family systems theory in a non-threatening and formal way especially for someone who hasn't studied it. I'm not the intended audience, I still enjoyed the book and found it helpful even if I could say at times 'she's describing a pursuit dynamic' for example. She addresses a lot of really good topics in the book and from a counseling perspective it is one I would share with people.
Jan 17, 2016 Pres rated it really liked it
The first part of the books is what wows me the most. The second part of the books which focuses on specific situations, such as one person that keeps on complaining, one person that stays silent etc started losing me as the the Author turns more on explaining the situation than providing explicitly concrete solutions. Overall four stars due to first part
Feb 17, 2014 Eileen rated it really liked it
Excellent self-help book. Lerner shows us how to communicate effectively and compassionately with those we love the most- even when those conversations are under difficult circumstances. She gives great advice about how to reconnect with those with whom we may have had difficult relationships.
Jan 27, 2014 Alejandro rated it liked it
Although it is written through life experiences I did enjoy reading it a bit. I always thought that when you wrote these kinds of books they were more generalized. it also made me realize that there are more of us out there than I thought, the emotionally broken/functional unemotional people (based on your perspective I guess).
Apr 29, 2015 Yougo rated it really liked it
A book regarding communication. I figured it sounded like how to deal with difficult people in your life, it's really more like 'how to deal with difficult communication situations, with people you care about, in your life'. In that respect, it was pretty good. You have to get past some of the liberal sociology smattered throughout, but there are quite a few sound nuggets that can be taken away.
Ginevra Alpi
May 19, 2016 Ginevra Alpi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ottimo saggio, molto accurato e professionale (diverso da un manuale di self-help), sui modi di parlare per farsi ascoltare e per affrontare particolari situazioni critiche.
Utile, dettagliato e realista.
Teri Peterson
Sep 02, 2016 Teri Peterson rated it really liked it
It's been a few years since I read this book, but I remember thinking that the Dance of Anger was better. That could be because I read it first, though, and it was pretty life-changing at the time.
Jun 21, 2008 K rated it really liked it
Shelves: professionallit
I guess this is more self-help than professional lit, but it's Harriet Lerner and it's Bowen-based, and it does offer me conversational language that I can use with my clients.

This isn't exactly a how-to book, contrary to what the title might suggest. It's more of a way to examine your relationships and your functioning within those relationships, often through case studies from Harriet's professional and personal life. Overall, I found the book readable, informative, and helpful, and while many
May 16, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Hilariously trying to read this book when I could have been connecting with Rachel over food-op pizza. :P
Martha Childers
Lerner continues her explorations into relationships by examining connection in relationships.
Jun 08, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
A wise book by an expansive, larger-than-life author. Harriet Lerner is a perennial favorite!
Jane Boswick
Jan 25, 2016 Jane Boswick rated it really liked it
Very readable book with practical advise and real case studies. I've read almost all of Harriet Lerners books and learn something every time!
Lucie Novak
Jun 21, 2014 Lucie Novak rated it really liked it
I learnt a lot.
One of those books I recommend to patients.
Nov 16, 2015 Elizabeth marked it as to-read
Shelves: career
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Harriet Lerner was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, the second of two daughters. Her parents, Archie and Rose Goldhor, were both children of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. They were high school graduates who wanted their daughters to "be someone" at a time when women were only supposed to "find someone."

"Achievement was next to Godliness for my sister, Susan, and me." Harriet notes. "My f
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“Differences don’t just threaten and divide us. They also inform, enrich, and enliven us.” 6 likes
“Indeed, in many situations wisdom lies in being strategic rather than spontaneous. This is especially true when we’re dealing with a difficult person, a hot issue, or a tense situation. The enormous challenge is to make wise decisions about how and when to say what to whom, and even before that, to know what we really want to say and what we hope to accomplish by saying it.” 3 likes
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