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Talk Sense is available for purchase from Research for Better Teaching.

Barry Jentz shows how leaders can build the requisite trust and credibility for improving organizational performance. Typically, leaders “talk tough” to improve performance. When that doesn't work, they “talk nice” (or vice-versa). By learning to “talk sense,” leaders can succeed in their efforts to improve performance.

Leaders who watch videotapes of themselves handling difficult interactions confront their too tough or too nice approaches to improving performance in the form of sharp discrepancies between their self-image and how they actually behave. Leaders who believe they are open and truthful observe themselves withholding information, communicating opaquely, and speaking judgmentally without explanation or evidence. Leaders who think they are good listeners notice they seldom pay attention to what others are saying. And leaders who pride themselves on promoting an open culture of learning discover that they are closed and dismissive. As long as they remain blind to these discrepancies, leaders inadvertently foster mistrust— and lose the very credibility they are attempting to gain. Without trust and credibility (surely the bedrock of effective leadership), leaders cannot advance their agendas for improving performance. Using stories that illustrate both inept and skillful communication, Talk Sense will walk you through a transformational process of:

  • Discovering discrepancies between your self-image and actual behavior

  • Developing a vision for high-performing, data-informed organizational culture

  • Inventing a new mind-set, a new skill set, and a new rationale for communication, and

  • Practicing in a "protected setting" through self-help exercises

Your transformational experience will take place in stories about interactions at home as well as work, and so will help you to integrate your home and work lives. Integrating the two is vital to leadership effectiveness.


Author: Barry Jentz

Copyright: 2007

ISBN 10: 1886822093

ISBN 13: 978-1-886822-09-2

What They’re Saying


“Talk Sense is simply unmatched in the crowded field of books on communication skills; it is invaluable for leaders. Barry Jentz brings the perfect balance of theory and practical examples to this compact work. His thirty-five years of experience in this field allow him to go to the heart of success with difficult conversations—what it takes to set them up and the skills to bring them to amazingly positive outcomes. Stories, skill-scripts, and explanations make it accessible to veteran and novice alike. There’s nothing like it.”

Jon Saphier, founder and president, Research for Better Teaching, Inc.; and founder and chairman emeritus, Teachers 21

“Your Talk Sense book has super cross-cultural value – even in a society that is incredibly NON-PEACE oriented – Afghanistan, where I am working for a Foundation as a Regional Education Program Manager! I've used Talk Sense concepts and communication skills to resolve community disputes, disarm angry community delegations, inspire and motivate staff, and discipline better behavior and professional standards. Essentially, I am really, really, really grateful to you for sharing your communication wisdom – it is fundamental to the professional successes I now enjoy.”

Moana Jean, Reflections on the Usefulness of Harvard Course – Leadership and Communication

“The riveting stories in this volume will make you weep—and learn and grow. What more could you ask for as a parent or a leader?”

Jerome T. Murphy, Harold Howe II Professor of Education and dean emeritus, Harvard Graduate School of Education

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