Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide” as Want to Read:
How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  22 reviews
"This is a self-help book on how to argue effectively, conciliate, and gently persuade. The authors admit to getting it wrong in their own past conversations. One by one, I recognize the same mistakes in me. The world would be a better place if everyone read this book." -- Richard Dawkins, author of Science in the Soul and Outgrowing God

In our current political climate, it
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Da Capo Lifelong Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How to Have Impossible Conversations, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How to Have Impossible Conversations

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  131 ratings  ·  22 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
There are some really helpful hints in here but most of them are pretty obvious to anyone that has empathy or a little bit of emotional EQ. Don’t shoot people down, don’t assume your opponents are evil, don’t be an asshole. But I had some issues with this one: first of all, the book is pretty biased. The authors try not to be, but most of their examples are about how to convince liberals that they are wrong and how to convince religious folks that they are irrational. Which would not be a ...more
Harald Groven
A useful and much needed manual on how to discuss with someone who disagrees with you. Most advice are fairly socratic and common sensical. Most of the recommendations discuss all the things you shouldn't say, because they will heat up the discussion and is counterproductive. Eg.
— "Think of shaming someone as being like a live hand grenade (...) “There is no such thing as a diplomatic hand grenade.” Hand grenades damage or blow up bridges; they don’t build them."

One of Boghossian and Lindsay's
Alex Railean
This was a very practical and very helpful book. As in the case of "A manual for creating atheists", I noticed some negative patterns in my ways of building an argument. Now I am a better person and I strongly recommend this book to anyone who often engages in discussions about controversial subjects.

If you want to get the most out of this book, take notes as you go through it. Mine are here:
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with the slightest interest in controversial topics
A superb book about how to have socratic dialogues with other people.

Good points:
-There is no fluff. The book is brief and readable; and at the same time one of those books you'll keep rereading. Such is the quality of the advice.
-It is quite well ordered, from easy techniques to difficult ones.
-Probably the authors know what they are writing about: they have a lot of experience.

Bad points?:

-The book is about conversing with a willing partner face to face. It doesn't deal with written
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide (2019) by Peter Boghossian and James A Lindsay is an interesting guide on how to discuss politics, religions and other general issues in a better way.

The authors write about how to have good conversations about non-personal topics. The list of seven fundamentals of good conversations is valuable, the discuss goals, partnerships, rapport, listening, shooting the messenger (which is don't deliver your truth), intentions and the value of
Justin Norman
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a bit torn about how to feel about this book. It focuses on a topic that I think is one of the most important issues in America at the moment: how to talk to people across political divides. The majority of it would seem to be great advice, but I was disappointed to discover that the book did not cover much on communicating through social media. This came as a surprise because I found out about both authors' writing through social media.

The book states that because no techniques have been
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't care who you are.
What you believe.
What you don't believe.
What you . . . whatever.

You must read this book.

I'm formally college-trained in Logic and Rhetoric, have years of debate under my belt, and have worked in advertising as a copywriter, but I have never gained as much practical experience in civil discourse, discussion, debate, and persuasion as I did by reading this book.

I say in all seriousness, that if everyone I knew read this book our society would

What a fantastic, actually it’s the best self-help/insightful and very easy to understand.

how much of a better person I could be if I put into practice these fundamentals!

That’s the books challenge... practice, practice, practice and more practice... and one will learn how to master and become a better— in almost every conceivable way, ie: more patriotic, increases how to improve loyalty, to increase empathy... the overall experience of the sanctity of life!

Did I say I recommend this
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
A useful guide for how to influence people, have more civil and productive conversations, and how to be more humble and intellectually honest yourself. I would recommend revisiting this book periodically, even rereading every now and then (I plan to). We can all use a reminder that there is a better way to be. In today's political environment, this is a book that can potentially make a real difference if enough people read it (or listen) to it. 4.5/5
Jasper Burns
I've had the pleasure of having many contentious conversations over the past couple of years. This book dissects many of the problems and cognitive distortions present in these types of arguments and poses solutions to all of them.

All of the best techniques I've accidentally stumbled upon over the years (Rappaport's Rules, understanding falsifiability, etc) are here, plus more. I particularly enjoyed its focus on epistemology: understanding why someone holds a belief gives more leeway to
The book gives an interesting round-up of conversational techniques to bridge deep divides in beliefs. It cites a lot of other books that I have read, or plan to read; therefore, some of the concepts in the book were already at least somewhat familiar to me. However, integrating all of them well enough to allow oneself to converse productively in real time with every random wingnut who comes one's way will take some work. I will probably have to re-read the book at least once and read the ...more
Selino Valdes
I love the general approach to communication promoted by this book. Much of the advice is behavior that most us have successfully figured out on our own. The socially adept my find the subject unnecessary while those of us on the socially challenged side can appreciate explanation. I can easily see this as course material at most high schools or colleges.

This book has lots of techniques that will require practice over time. For that reason I imagine that I’ll be referencing the text many times
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It’s very nicely written and laid out, with each chapter introducing more complex techniques. I think what made this fun was that it made me think about the way I converse; often differently with different people. It gave a name to things that we all do naturally when in conversation, explained why and when they work and how to use them more effectively.
I was a little put off by some reviews that said the initial techniques were super obvious. On reading the book I
Sebastián Ortega
In a world in which talking about anything else but the weather can trigger bitter quarrels we need the techniques brought from different psychology branches, hostage negotiations and cult exiting that the authors of these book pack as a set of skills organized by level of sophistication.

You might need something like this if you care about the crazy things that people believe and that later on have dire consequences in the real world. The book helps you to open the minds of your conversation
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book on having better conversations, I wish everyone in America had the time to sit down and read this. For example I have friends on both ends of the political spectrum and I care for them very much and we are able to all talk to one another without all the anger and hatred that is so common in this current environment.
Robert Patterson
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Essentially a reminder to practice emphatic listening. Listen more, talk less. Ask questions. Don't lecture or parallel talk. Know when to retreat.

Similar parallels to "How to Win Friends and Influence People" but modernizes for some contexts in discussing polarizing topics.

I really need to learn to listen more...
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
awesome book. i got peeved because, while the authors are pretty good at providing examples that cover both sides of any given issue, they give numerous examples that assume that people with doubts about the virtues of vaccines are wrong and crazy.
Jennifer Hansen
Read this book if you can't figure out how to talk to people with different political opinions than you have without getting mad.
Ron Joniak
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent guidebook on navigating difficult conversations. Brings the user back to a central position where he/she can always gain something from even the toughest conversations.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I need to buy a physical copy of this book.
Lance Schonberg
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I ignored the authors' advice and read it straight through. Now, it's time to pick the tactics and devices that I think will help me in ongoing or future conversations. Some note taking is in order.
Josh Maulucci
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
There was a lot of good techniques given in this book. It's a fast read, not overly complicated, but simple and practical.
Rob Stewart
rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2019
rated it really liked it
Oct 14, 2019
Last Unicorn
rated it did not like it
Sep 29, 2019
rated it really liked it
Oct 11, 2019
Josh Yuter
rated it really liked it
Sep 22, 2019
rated it really liked it
Oct 17, 2019
Bogdan Alexandru
rated it really liked it
Nov 10, 2019
Vincent Zhu
rated it it was amazing
Nov 21, 2019
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity
  • Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime
  • How to Fight Anti-Semitism
  • Conscious
  • Letters from an Astrophysicist
  • Permanent Record
  • Woke: A Guide to Social Justice
  • Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide
  • Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam
  • Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration
  • Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt
  • Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don't Have To
  • Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know
  • The Meritocracy Trap: How America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class, and Devours the Elite
  • Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race
  • The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes
  • The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses
  • Call Me God: The Untold Story of the DC Sniper Investigation
See similar books…