Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Back Pocket Coach by Diane Brennan and Alexandra Ross (Review, Author Interview & Giveaway!)

Aptly named, Back Pocket Coach is a handy little resource book for effective communication. I was very interested in this book for two reasons. In my line of work, it's all about communicating. I also have two teenage kids. Need I say more? Check out my review to see what I thought of this book, read my interview with the authors and then be sure to enter to win a copy along with a $10 Amazon gift card!

Book Details:

Book Title: Back Pocket Coach: 33 Effective Communication Strategies for Work & Life
Authors: Diane Brennan and Alexandra Ross
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 104 pages
Genre: Communication, Self-help
Publisher: New View Press
Release date: January 2017
Tour dates: June 5 to 16, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Have you ever been in a situation that was emotionally charged and the stakes were high? And it was difficult to find the right words? Back Pocket Coach provides 33 power-packed communication strategies to support you in creating satisfying conversations that result in good outcomes for you and others. These just-in-time strategies will help you move through conversations masterfully --whether you're engaging with one person or a team of people.

You'll learn how to:
-- Provide difficult feedback to everyone from your boss to mother-in-law -- improving your relationships in the process.
-- Effectively renegotiate any agreement.
-- Say no to a request that would leave you stretched too thing -- and do so from a place of strength.
-- Get unproductive meetings back on track -- even if you're not the meeting organizer.
-- Safely speak your truth.
-- Increase your self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
-- Use appreciation authentically -- the secret sauce for thriving relationships.

Buy the Book:

My Review:
Reviewed by Laura Fabiani

Aptly named, Back Pocket Coach is a handy little resource book for effective communication. I was very interested in this book for two reasons. In my line of work, I deal with people all day long, mostly by email but also by phone so my communication skills need to be sharp. And I have two teenage kids. Getting us to understand each other can be such a challenge at times.

The book is divided into six parts with an introductory section and a chapter on how to use the book. It's a short book at just under a hundred pages and each of the strategies are numbered and take up one short paragraph on each page. Because of my counselling background, I appreciated these simple but very effective strategies because I've used some of them. I particularly liked the strategies for one-on-one conversations (such as, We both want the same thing here), conversations on-the-fly (such as, Let me take some time to consider this) and self-reflection (What could I have done better or differently).

Part five lists situations and issues and what strategies to use for them. I think that if we practice these strategies on a regular basis, our conversations and problem-solving skills will improve. I know I want to master some of the strategies outlined in this book. As much as I liked that this book was short and handy and useful as a quick reference, I did wish that the strategies were followed by examples or anecdotes. To this day, I still remember the short stories or anecdotes that I've read in a few self-help books, such as in Dale Carnegie's books. We learn by example, and seeing a strategy in action can imprint it better in our minds.

Apart from wanting more info, I think this book is a very useful tool for all ages and all people, no matter their background, social status or field of work. Being a better communicator, especially in difficult situations or when discussing heated topics is an excellent skill to possess. This is a nifty book that I can recommend to all!

To read more reviews, please visit Alexandra and Diane's page on iRead Book Tours.

Disclosure: Thanks to the authors for sending me a complimentary copy. I was not told how to rate or review this book.

Interview with Alexandra Ross and Diane Brennan:

LCR: Welcome to Library of Clean reads, Alexandra and Diane! Can you describe your book in 20 words or less?

A&D: Just-in-time communication strategies to help you move through conversations masterfully -- whether engaging with one person or a team of people.

LCR: What motivated us to write this book?

A&D: We were inspired by a team we were working with at the time. Alexandra was coaching the leader of the organization, who was well-intentioned but perceived as a bully boss. His direct reports were afraid of him. Diane was coaching one of the individuals who was terrified of engaging with him. She and Diane joked about how great it would be to have flashcards to communicate with him. We did create flashcards but ended up using them to get feedback on the strategies we created that make up the book as you now see it. The book turned out to be a better way to make the information useable. 

LCR: There are many books on communication. What makes yours different or unique?

A&D: The strategies in this book were developed and fine-tuned over the more than 15 years that Diane and Alexandra have been coaching. We’ve used them with our clients over and over through the years, and they have a successful track record. The great thing about this book is that it is astonishingly simple. You can flip open to any page and immediately find a strategy to try out in your professional or personal life. We also provide an index of common situations and issues, along with suggestions for strategies to consider using. The book is really a reference book -- something to be used over and over. That said, if all you wanted to do was spend an hour reading it cover to cover, you would walk away with strategies that would help you create more satisfying conversations and outcomes right now.

LCR: In all your work experience, what was the toughest situation you found yourself in when it came to communication?

A&D: Two come to mind. We have seen both on multiple occasions with clients, as well. The first is how to deliver clear and helpful feedback to someone and leave that relationship better than found. If feedback is not delivered well, it can strain the relationship, cause the person receiving the feedback to shut down, and impair the future of the relationship. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to step up and do it well. (And we have a strategy for that!) The second situation that can cause a lot of mischief is to make assumptions about what the other person wants, needs or expects. This can result in unnecessary rework, bad feelings and a damaged relationship. (We have more than one strategy that addresses this, also.)

LCR: How did you come up with your book’s title?

A&D: In working with coaching clients, we each had a habit of referring to a communication strategy as something that would be good to have “in your back pocket.” It just kind of stuck when we were looking for a title. The book’s subtitle, which refers to the strategies being good for “work & life” is something we really wanted to articulate. The fact is, there is no hard line between the way you talk to people in your business or personal life. You still need good strategies to have successful outcomes in any conversation.

LCR: What does it mean to be a Master Certified Coach?

A&D: This is the highest accreditation designation from the International Coach Federation (ICF), the largest and most respected professional organization across the coaching industry worldwide. Of the 30,000 members of the ICF, there are less than 1000 Master Certified Coaches. To attain this designation requires a combination of at least 2500 documented coaching hours, coach specific training and a rigorous review of the applicant’s coaching skill level.

LCR: If you could travel back in time, where would you go?

A&D: Alexandra would go back to the sixties, where the tide was beginning to turn with regard to human relationships, yet there was still a long way to go in terms of how things looked and how people engaged in the workplace. Instead of having a task master and bully boss around every corner, it would be great fun to be able to introduce sixties’ coaching clients to some of the strategies we use now that help make work environments more enjoyable and productive for all. Things like social-emotional intelligence skills, a self-reflective practice and how and why it pays dividends to be mindful.

Diane would go back about 15 to 20 years in time where coaching was just beginning to have a presence in organizations. Had we been better able to articulate the value of coaching and the impact on the individual, the organization and others, we might be having different conversations in the big issues facing our world. On the other hand, there is no better time than now to work through the difficult conversations. The Back Pocket Coach communication strategies are a vehicle to help people through the challenges so that we all have better outcomes. 

LCR: Thank so much for joining me here!

Meet the Authors:

Alexandra Ross is an executive coach, team builder and author. With a Masters degree in Organizational Communication, she helps leaders and teams sharpen their leadership skills and exceed prior levels of performance. Alexandra is internationally certified as a Master Certified Coach. She coaches executives and leaders in the fields of aerospace, engineering, high technology, medical, financial and more. She is also passionate about coaching women in leadership. Contact Alexandra at

Diane Brennan is a consultant, coach, author and speaker. She is passionate about leadership in all types of organizations. She enjoys working with leaders and teams in the fields of healthcare, aerospace, engineering, science, academics and business. Diane's expertise in organizations includes strategic thinking, navigating change and creating a learning culture. Diane holds a Doctorate in Behavioral Health, an MBA and is a Master Certified Coach. She brings calm to the chaos in organizations and life. Contact Diane at

Connect with the Authors:

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  1. This book sounds invaluable and would be a wonderful and helpful resource. Thanks for this great feature and giveaway.

  2. Thank you for your book review and for the interview with us!

  3. I always enjoy reading about communicating and hints to improve. I am better than I was, but if hit with something unexpected I tend to just go quiet!

    1. I understand that. It's not easy to communicate well when caught off guard. :-)

  4. Sounds like a good book and maybe one my daughter might find useful too.


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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