Redesigning Conversations

A Guide To Communicating Effectively in the Family, Workplace, and Society

Non-Fiction - Relationships
322 Pages
Reviewed on 01/22/2023
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Author Biography

In 2016, Bill moved on from being an experienced corporate leader and lawyer to become an executive and life coach. He lives with his partner Margi Brown Ash on acreage in Brisbane, where they raised their four children. ​

Bill's passion is gaining insight into how our conversations affect everything we think, say, and do; and how they enhance our relationships in our families, workplaces, and society.

Bill has grown his understanding of conversations and relationships through working in law firms and corporations in Brisbane, Sydney, Houston, Toronto, and Hong Kong; and before he became a parent, traveling to cities, towns, and villages in North and South America and Asia, engaging in conversations and forming relationships with people from all walks of life, cultures, and identities; and more recently joining in raising money for Oxfam through cycling in Sri Lanka.

To gain insights into the skills enabling us to have more effective conversations and grow our relationships, Bill pursued formal studying and training by:
Gaining a Master of Counselling at Queensland's QUT;
Gaining a Graduate Diploma of Ontological Coaching at the Newfield Institute;
Working with the US based Jean Houston, a world leader in human potential;
Becoming an Associate with the Taos Institute, participating in workshops and seminars with global thought leaders;
Acting as a mentor/coach within the Wesfarmers Group and mentoring programs for QUT;
Exploring how our stories inform our way of being through studying Narrative Therapy at Dulwich Centre, Adelaide.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Redesigning Conversations by Bill Ash is a non-fiction self-help book and 'A Guide To Communicating Effectively in the Family, Workplace, and Society.' In short, knowing how to communicate is not the same as knowing how to communicate effectively, and most of us are guilty of speaking in a manner that does not meaningfully convey our message and, therefore, our message is not heard. As the Nobel Prize-winning playwright George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Ash builds the framework of change into five distinct and interconnecting parts, each with an exhaustive degree of case studies, personal scenarios, verifiable resources, and actionable guidance that falls into The Evolving Family, Workplace and Society, Noticing and Re-authoring Our Scripts and Opinions, Learning, Our Listening and Speaking, and Conversations in Society.

As someone who was born and raised in one English-speaking country and moved to another as an adult, I had to basically learn an entirely new way of communicating. I often joked that the source of stress in my marriage was that we were divided by a common language. He once stood on a ladder asking for a torch and I was unable to assist because I called it a flashlight. I argued why calling it a torch made no sense and it inevitably lead to frustration, which turned into an argument. I was simply unwilling to learn to communicate in a new landscape. I hadn't expected to connect in this way, but in chapter eight Bill Ash goes into detail about his journey of awareness and empathy when he and his wife were expecting a child, and where his roadblocks are in releasing systemic patriarchy from his mindset and communication. My 'enemy of learning' was releasing decades of American exceptionalism that were so ingrained in my psyche that I wasn't totally willing to learn, adapt, and grow in this country, or with this man, both of whom had openly embraced me. The reality is that redesigning our conversations is more intense than I believed before reading Redesigning Conversations, but the work starts now. Today. And I am grateful to have found my guide. Very highly recommended.

Anelynde Smit

Redesigning Conversations: A Guide to Communicating Effectively in the Family, Workplace, and Society by Bill Ash is an intriguing look at how we communicate, whether through the spoken word, body language, or even moods. Ash says that the language we use creates new possibilities in the sense that we can change anything by using the right conversational style. Whether it is parent to child, spouse to spouse, or between co-workers, the right conversation can open new doors. He discusses scripts, those inherent things about us passed down, and how we can rewrite our scripts. There are also declarations, such as saying ‘yes to the mess’ our society is in today. He takes a deep look at the foundations of conversation and how our lives are all interconnected, be it social, work or family. There is an ongoing theme of ‘you cannot change what you don’t notice’ which is a convincing argument because it rings true. He also touches on sexuality, gender, and how to communicate those elements.

Redesigning Conversations by Bill Ash was interesting. I never knew that in having one conversation you were actually having three - those internal and the public ones. I was fascinated by his love of case studies taken from the pages of his own life. There are exercises where he challenges your way of thinking about how you talk and listen. The old adage that we have two ears and one mouth, so we need to listen twice and speak once, was a gentle reminder of how things should be. Although this book is primarily aimed at parents with children, anyone could benefit and it should be regarded as a must-read for adults in the working world.

K.C. Finn

Redesigning Conversations: A Guide to Communicating Effectively in the Family, Workplace, and Society is a work of non-fiction examining the nature of communication in the modern world. It is suitable for the general adult reading audience and was penned by Bill Ash. Conversations and the way we communicate have changed radically due to technology and the global crisis. Ash offers practical and useful insights into getting important conversations going with the people who matter to you. Whether it is voicing mental health concerns in the workplace, discussing identity and self-expression at home, or dealing with advice and guidance from others, this book is a fantastic primer on modern conversation, openness, and practicality.

Bill Ash makes this work something special by sharing his personal life stories, anecdotes and the lessons learned along the way. I felt as though I was in the presence of a trusted friend during the reading experience, and one whose extensive life experience offers much gravitas to the ideas that are presented, but never in a pushy way. I really got into the ideas concerning re-authoring ourselves and testing our own opinions, which is a branch of self-awareness that is so often overlooked. It was explained in such accessible terms that it became easier to see its value and how best to approach it. The work is superbly well organized to give a logical flow to the concepts as they build upon each other, but you can also jump back into any section you found handy and revisit it. I know I’ll be doing that often in the coming months. Redesigning Conversations is a wonderful tool for utilizing communication to improve so many facets of our lives, and I would highly recommend it.

Sheena Monnin

Redesigning Conversations by Bill Ash takes the reader on a journey of understanding why the words we say, the stories we make up in our minds, and the perspectives we carry with us have a direct and lasting impact on the people around us, the opportunities we may have, and the way our children evolve into adults. The author combines factual information with interesting stories and examples from his own life. He shares how the principles of communication, self-awareness, mood awareness, and relationship priority can influence each part of our lives. He encourages each reader to start to take note of their inner stories, their reactions to stimuli, and their self-perception and make small changes toward health in each area. The author explains how conversations involve both listening and speaking and how conversational intimacy is life-changing.

Redesigning Conversations by Bill Ash captivated me from the very beginning. He took something as seemingly simple as conversation and opened my awareness to its limitless power. His personal examples helped me to take a closer look at how I interact with and speak with those close to me. Each case study he provided was helpful in further understanding and illustrating his points. I love his focus on family and also on the workplace, as well as their connectedness. His explanation of the interplay among learning, listening, and speaking was profound. I appreciate that the principles of the book were well-researched and the explanations were easy to relate to. Each section of the book addresses many of the common pitfalls we have when in conversation with others, as well as offering gentle nudges toward learning to overcome them. This book is well written, easy to understand, and offers kindly worded pieces of life-changing advice.

Pikasho Deka

The world has changed during the past couple of decades with the advent of social media, the unchecked rise of the global population, climate change, and a devastating pandemic that swept across the planet. These changes have led to various unexpected challenges in our pursuit of fulfilling lives. Redesigning Conversations: A Guide to Communicating Effectively in the Family, Workplace, and Society by Bill Ash addresses some of these ontological aspects of being human, which include moods and emotions, parenting and leadership values, gender identity, sexuality, and much more. According to the author, interpersonal communication is vital for developing relationships in our homes, workplaces, communities, and international relations. Ash showcases how we can engage in language and conversations in a manner that results in greater human understanding.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened anxiety levels among people all over the world. In these uncertain times, it is important to remind ourselves of the fundamental facets of life that make us human. Redesigning Conversations is a book that feels particularly relevant for these times. Bill Ash offers tools for readers to help them navigate modern life and its challenges by providing genuine and deep insights, covering a variety of issues related to the human condition. The book contains personal anecdotes from the author's own life, complemented by case studies and exercises to help readers better understand the concepts the narrative delves into. I found this to be a thoroughly enlightening read, and highly recommend it to readers who enjoy books that lead them to introspect.