Better conversations, Jim Knight

Jim Knight, Better Conversations Book coverI have really enjoyed reading Jim Knight’s “Better Conversations”. It is inspirational in the way it makes you mindful of what we do all day: Talk. We talk at, about, with and to each other. We all know how great it feels to have a truly wonderful, productive and invigorating conversation. What if more of our conversations could be even better? Knight provides some common sense approaches, but to call it ‘common sense’ is unfair because if having great conversations is common sense and easy, then why do we have bad/unproductive conversations, or conversations which could have been better?

I picked the 5 chapters I found most interesting and relevant, and used the mindmaps Knight provides at the beginning of each chapter as my guide to form my own notes and understanding. For this I used the software package MindJet Mindmanager, which our school provides for our students and created this mindmap overview: Better conversations Jim Knight (also see below)


  • Better conversations (Ch1)
  • The Better Conversations Beliefs (Ch 2)
  • Ask better questions to foster inquiry (Ch5)
  • Redirecting toxic words and emotions (Ch8)
  • Building Trust (Ch9)

My key takeaways:

Being a listener is very challenging but vitally important to create progress, understanding, and trust. We all have bad habits in our conversations. Here are some positive beliefs to hold for our conversations: (Ch 2)

  • I see conversation partners as equals.
  • I want to hear what others have to say.
  • I believe people should have a lot of autonomy
  • I don’t judge others.
  • Conversation should be back and forth.
  • Conversation should be life-giving

Positive habits in conversations:
Demonstrating empathy, Listening with empathy, Fostering dialogue, Asking better questions, Making emotional connections, Being a witness to the good, Finding common ground, Controlling toxic emotions, Redirecting toxic conversations, Building trust > Knight devotes a chapter to each of these elements.

What I want to change (at home and at work):
Stop interrupting people with my own prepared answers and solutions! I want to truly listen and seek to understand. I want to steer clear from gossip and negativity. I will take each conversation and interaction as an opportunity to respect and engage with the other person. I will try to be aware of what I say and how I say it so that both of us can come away better from the interaction. Lofty, but doable, I say!