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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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,360 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
Bestselling author Harriet Lerner focuses on the challenge and the importance of being able to express one's "authentic voice" in intimate relationships.

The key problem in relationships, particularly over time, is that people begin to lose their voice. Despite decades of assertiveness training and lots of good advice about communicating with clarity, timing, and tact, wome
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ebook, 272 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lori
Jul 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Allison
Feb 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to connect more deeply
Shelves: inspirational
3.5

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
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Brittany Wilmes
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Lindsay
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Nicole
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nick
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Deb
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*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.
Jill
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.."
Molly
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Will be rereading! Excellent!!
Lia
Jun 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as her other books.
Sarah
Dec 30, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Hoping for the best, expecting...
Kate
This book would have worked better for me if the author was a lot more direct.

I felt like there were a number of communication & empathy issues that needed much more detail on why and why not you should use them in your conversations. There was one example that bugged the hell out of me because I had recently read There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love. There is an entire section in this book dedicated to not making the co
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Debby
The best book on communication and making/keeping connection in the relationships in our lives when disconnection is is what we feel like doing. I can't think of anyone who couldn't benefit from reading this book.
None of this is easy, that's for sure!! But, if you're like me and realize most of your life you've lived in difficult relationships and funciton by swallowing more words than you speak and giving in to other's imposing their will vs speaking up and setting boundaries, or thinking some
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Veronika Belcheva
hands down one of the best books about our relationships with others I have ever read. A lot was made clear about intimacy and relationship building. I also loved the part about what to do when there is complete cut off - "when there is no love being served, leave the table". Also the emphasis on family of origin and parent - child connections was wonderfully presented. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Rachel
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compassionate and sometimes funny book about communicating, connecting and setting limits with people. It's not so much a how-to as a series of stories based on a few principles. An eye-opening book.
Corinne
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and sweet. I enjoyed listening to this on audible, but I did speed up the narration a tad as the cadence was too slow for me. I love how she says basically you should say what you need to say because you need to say it, not because you want someone else to change, apologize, etc.
Elizabeth
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave me some great things to think about and emphasized the importance of perspective.
Rita Moser
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this Read! Very well written, and I really like all the example shes gives which makes it easy to think about practically. Can't wait to read some of her other books :)
Adam
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!


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Leda
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harriet Lerner is so insightful and clear headed. I love her writing and her perspective on communication.
Sarah
Jan 07, 2016 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
Cindy
Oct 05, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
K
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Callie
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Heather
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all of Harriet's books. This one talks about the fact that while we do have the option of fixing a problem in a relationship by ending the connection, we often don't want to or know that's not the best thing to do. This book validates the strong emotions we all feel inside a strained relationship, but also tells us how to navigate and handle ourselves and others with respect, and without disconnecting emotionally from the other person.
Amani Elsawah
This was an excellent book. I enjoyed reading it just as much as "the Dance of Anger". In this book, Dr. Lerner had a lot to say about marriage, divorce and what happens when people just refuse to talk or listen, or apologize. She had a lot of great advice and words of wisdom about human nature and relationships. Sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, no matter how hard we try. The best we can do is let go and live our lives to the fullest, despite the hurt.
Neil White
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.
Dottie
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Sparked perhaps by an underlying connection to an older book which has held a place in my personal library for many years, I picked this up and am finding it refreshing that there is no follow this plan and this happens or that happens -- again, an echo of the earlier book. None of the usual self-help "magic" solution style -- just informational and thought provoking. We shall see if it holds up to the end.
Jo Rhett
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book that ignores hefty psych talk and gets down and dirty with the details of communication. Everyone should read this book.

Warning: she avoids needless details, but her advice won't spare you from hard work. To be able to communicate at this level, you must be able to face yourself and your own issues head on. This book is much much more about you than about the person you are trying to talk to, although she does a lot to help broaden your mind there too.

Margaret Zhang
As someone who's already read "The Dance of Anger", "The Dance of Intimacy", and "The Dance of Deception", many of the concepts in this book were quite redundant. However, because the concepts are so (!) good, practical, and practicable, I was grateful for all the reminders that I needed to hear! I recommend that you choose the first Lerner book you read wisely - pick the one that appeals most to you, because that one will be your favorite!
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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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More about Harriet Lerner...

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“Differences don’t just threaten and divide us. They also inform, enrich, and enliven us.” 8 likes
“But therein lies the paradox: Speaking out and being “real” are not necessarily virtues. Sometimes voicing our thoughts and feelings shuts down the lines of communication, diminishes or shames another person, or makes it less likely that two people can hear each other or even stay in the same room. Nor is talking always a solution. We know from personal experience that our best intentions to process a difficult issue can move a situation from bad to worse. We can also talk a particular subject to death, or focus on the negative in a way that draws us deeper into it, when we’d be better off distracting ourselves and going bowling.” 6 likes
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