Monday, October 8, 2012

When to Speak Up & When To Shut Up: A Review


When I was offered the opportunity to review a book

When to Speak Up and When To Shut Up
titled When to Speak Up & When To Shut Up: Principles for Conversations You Won’t Regret by Dr. Michael D. Sedler I was in a rush to read the book. You see, I have always had trouble making conversation, partly because I’m an introvert, and partly because I was not encouraged to converse when I was young. Unlike the characters in a Jane Austen novel who carry on intelligent conversation at every opportunity, I usually didn’t know what to say. When I did have something to say I didn’t know how to fit it into conversation. Here was the book that would save my life. It would give me that one word trigger that when I heard it I would know it was time to share my thoughts. The back cover copy confirmed my decision.

However I was deceived by both the title and the back cover copy. This book is not about conversation, per se. It deals with when and how to confront others, the attitudes and posture we should carry and the ways in which we can frame our words. It is filled with personal anecdotes, stories from the author’s counseling career, and examples from the Bible. It attempts to help us confront common problems and since I have two friends whose marriage is in trouble I was hopeful. Here is an example:

Busy spouses forget to be accessible. One spouse, usually the wife (sorry, guys, but it is the truth), becomes discouraged, feeling isolated and alone. She does not sense that her husband wants to communicate on the same level she does. She asks a question and wants a dialogue on the scale of War and Peace. Instead she gets the Reader’s Digest condensed version of Lassie, Come Home.

Soon, walls are built between husband and wife.  p. 47-48

This book contains common-sense practical ideas for furthering communication with people you need to confront: people in authority, your children, your spouse, and your friends. It tells you how to confront appropriately, showing you how to examine your motives, including the motives behind questions you may ask. The author covers the areas of remaining silent to deceive, rationalizing our own behavior, surviving peer pressure, and avoiding and resolving anger, and presents impediments to Godly silence: fear, intimidation, and pride.

When to Speak Up & When to Shut Up is written in a stilted, wordy manner and despite the author’s personal anecdotes, I found it tedious to read. From the writing style to the paper stock and typeface, it gave the appearance of being self-published without editorial input. If not for my obligation to read the book for this review, I would have put it down after the first chapter.  Fortunately it contained only 156 pages.  If you are interested in a quick overview of how to confront others, this book might be helpful. But if you want to learn the art of conversation, this is not the book for you.


I received this book free from Chosen Books a division of Baker Publishing Group  through its book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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