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Book review: 'Overcoming Fake Talk' can help improve relationships

"OVERCOMING FAKE TALK: How to Hold Real Conversations That Create Respect, Build Relationships and Get Results," by John R. Stoker, McGraw Hill Education, $20, 276 pages (nf)

To help improve communication, John R. Stoker suggests in his book "Overcoming Fake Talk" going into a conversation with an idea of what you want out of it, while simultaneously being open and willing to learn.

“Fake talk,” according to Stoker, is “vague, manipulative, covert, shortsighted, problematic, disrespectful, accusatory, noncomplimentary, or an outright lie.” It's something that practically everyone has struggled with at one point.

Stoker places heavy emphasis on listening and recognizing different communication styles. He also offers a framework for approaching "undiscussables" — those things that might be more comfortable to keep hidden for a while, but that cause rifts if not discussed.

There's a lot of information in this book; even if the reader doesn't absorb all the details, the prevailing message is enough to initiate change.

Stoker’s not afraid to tackle tough issues involved in communication, including potential conflicts between people with differing communication styles, the cost of not speaking up and the necessity of being “people present.”

“Conversational intelligence,” as Stoker calls it, is a skill set that can be the difference between life and death in relationships. Stoker’s book invites readers to take a hard look at their communication skills.

Stoker is the founder and president of DialogueWorks, headquartered in Springville. He has also worked as an attorney and a river rafting guide.

Karen Schwarze lives and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area. She blogs at