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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

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,526 ratings  ·  199 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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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  2,526 ratings  ·  199 reviews

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Peacefully Snoozing by the Fire
Another insightful book from Harriet Lerner (I think I’m becoming a fan!) Dance of Intimacy, another book by her and the first of hers I read, focuses on relationship patterns and how they’re essentially governed by feelings of anxiety. This book on the other hand, focuses on initiating and navigating emotionally charged conversations in a way that invites better connection.

Some of the wisdom I picked up from this book includes:
- Honesty is all well and great but spontaneous, uncensored express
Jul 21, 2013 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
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this book at any stage in school because it would've helped facilitate the relationships I had at an early stage to set up for success. This book has proven, well-researched advice on how to navigate any relationship: parents, marriage, friendship. While it's not a marriage book per se, I can see how extremely helpful it would be for any marriage. And while not a parenting book per se, I can see how I would personally use this book in future for possible difficulties with my ow ...more
Feb 04, 2012 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
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really solid book on empathy and communication with some very digestible insights I really appreciated. Might have to re-read at some later point in my life to sink in deeper.

- "But in our desperate rush to become intimate we may tell too much too soon. Sharing vulnerability is one way we feel close to other people, but if we share indiscriminately or prematurely, it has the opposite effect. If you meet someone at a cocktail party who discloses her most searing pain while standing over th
Jun 16, 2015 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
Feb 21, 2012 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.
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've always considered myself a relatively good communicator. However, this book gave even greater insight to ways in which I could communicate effectively with friends, family, and significant others. ...more
Jan 04, 2010 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
Brittany Wilmes
Mar 25, 2013 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
Valerie Campbell Ackroyd
Good read as always

I have enjoyed, and learned from, reading Lerner’s “Dance of....” books for over 20 years. She always posits interesting things to think of in terms of interpersonal communication. Sometimes I feel I need to have some of her “advice” tattooed on my arms and hands 😄.

I like that she uses a lot of personal anecdotes although I know some find it off putting. But I like that I can have a silent conversation “No, do I really do that?...Yes, it might work better if I....”

I always f
Amanda Anger
When one of my favorite authors (Brene Brown) recommends a book in one of her books, I pay attention. This book was an incredible read. I especially love that it was narrated by the author, who has such a warm and sincere voice.

If you're familiar with Brene Brown's works, Harriet's book will be the perfect complement to read as well.
Kaitie Ivory
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the second book by Harriet Lerner that I've read and it resonated as much as the first (Dance of Anger). She breaks down relationship conflicts and how to empower ourselves to disrupt old patterns. I'm feeling inspired to reinvision some of my relationships, and equipped to handle the conversations that are so important. ...more
Susan  Wilson
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great reminder that we are all imperfect and need to approach connecting with others knowing we will all communicate in ways that don’t serve us at times and should be forgiving of ourselves and others. The advice that will stay with me is to “choose happiness over righteousness”.
Binita Thakker
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is such a profound book! Here human individuality and connectedness are deeply explored and treated with so much equity. Dr Lerner is going to be on my books to read and thoughts to dwell on/ live by list for a long time!
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it
My rating of 3 is based on the fact that I have read most of Lerner’s books and found significant repeats in the material in this book. I enjoy her work but was upset by the repetition of stories.
Sue Allred
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciate this authors clarity and wisdom! So glad I’ve stumbled upon her books and I can’t wait to read more from her.
Nancy Pfaffe
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Helpful very very helpful. I will read more by Harriet Lerner!
Leigh Kramer
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I read this on my friend Laura Tremaine’s recommendation and I can see why she loved it. Lerner has an engaging voice and there’s a good mix of examples from her personal life, as well as her professional practice. The insights I gleaned from the first few chapters alone made it worth the read.

The book is 20 years old and so some of the advice is dated in places and word choice has evolved since then. While I was gratified that she cited examples from LGBTQ+ clients, her examples were overwhelm
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
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 conver
May 05, 2013 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 excu
Jan 17, 2016 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
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This is fine and has some ok tips, but also a lot of outdated stereotypes and ideas. It’s good to be thoughtful, seek guidance, practice what we’ll say, etc... YMMV on how useful you find this. Lots of the sickly sweet make niceynice advice on staying calm or lightening the mood prob wouldn’t apply if you’re dealing with narcissists or people with other mental health challenges.
Apr 30, 2013 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.."
Jun 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Not as good as her other books.
Dec 30, 2013 marked it as to-read
Hoping for the best, expecting...
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Will be rereading! Excellent!!
Kathryn Egly
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brene Brown recommended this book and wow, it contains SO many Gold Nuggets for relational connection! There were many practical stories, tips, and steps. I listened to this on the free Hoopla App but now want the actual book so that I can re-read it. Here are keypoints I appreciated:

- Honesty is all well and great but spontaneous, uncensored expression of feelings and thoughts is not, contrary to some people’s advice, a good thing. If it’s unbridled, it can damage motivation for future communic
this book felt like a blanket that descended upon me and wrapped me up in a type of burrito. like the ones babies get wrapped up in, you know? and since i listened to the audiobook, i wanna say that dr. harriet lerner’s voice felt like the arms that held me, swaddled.

i was originally going to start this review with a kind of preface, providing different explanations as to why i’d been reading this book. mostly so none of you would rolls your eyes or laugh or dismiss me for reading “a self-help
Tim Hughes
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The Dance of Connection” was recommended to me by Brene Brown in her book “Rising Strong”. On the front it states “How to talk to somebody when you’re mad, hurt, scared, frustrated, insulted, betrayed or desperate”. And it’s true.

The book walks through “typical” life situations and explains how to deal with them. Often we thing that standing and shouting at each other, expecting the other person to back down and apologise isn’t always the best way to dealing with people and situations.

At the en
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Dr. Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology, City University of New York; M.A. Educational Psychology, Columbia University Teachers College), 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 ...more

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