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I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love Paperback – March 28, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If we do nothing beyond listening with a sincere desire to understand our opponents and ask ourselves this question, it's possible we'll get farther than by pushing our own position too hard. In our rush to convince others that we're right and they're wrong about issues, we often run roughshod over relationships that could be vital to creating lasting change on issues about which we are passionate. I Beg to Differ is an excellent resource with helpful chapter summaries for easily bookmarking the many communication strategies it presents." (Christine A. Scheller, Sojourners, December 2014)

"A number of years ago I determined two very important things about marriage: we are naturally very good at initiating conflict, and we are naturally very bad at resolving conflict. How you resolve conflict in your marriage, family and relationships will determine the depth of intimacy you experience in these relationships. I Beg to Differ is '911 to the rescue' for relationships. This may be the most important book you read this year." (Dennis Rainey, host, FamilyLife Today, founder and president, FamilyLife Ministries)

"In his book, I Beg to Differ, Tim Muehlhoff provides an edifying foundation for navigating life's difficult conversations. Balanced with a healthy dosage of theoretical and practical insight into speech, communication and word choice, Muehlhoff peppers his book with solid scriptural support, realistic life examples and illustrations and insight from some of the leading scholars in the field of communication." (Kevin Carrigan, Mennonite Brethren Herald, December 27, 2014)

"I head up a graduate program in Christian apologetics and I can't think of a better book to read if you want to engage others with the 'humility and respect' that the apostle writes about in 1 Peter 3:15. But understand, this book is for everybody: evangelists, pastors, spouses, friends, bosses, employees--anyone who needs to communicate with charity, confidence and clarity. Tim Muehlhoff has written yet another incredibly helpful book that really needs to be read far and wide." (Craig J. Hazen, founder and director of the Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University and author of Five Sacred Crossings)

"Muehlhoff has given us an informed and accessible introduction to the art and science of communication in difficult situations. This book distills the theory of successful communication and offers the reader practical guidance for its application." (From the foreword by Gregg Ten Elshof, director, Center for Christian Thought)

"For more than twenty years, I have benefited both personally and professionally from Tim's wisdom and coaching. He is a masterful communicator, and the principals contained in his most recent book are stunning. I can't say that I am looking forward to the next difficult conversation that I will have to have with a family member or friend, but I am confident that the timeless and proven principles contained in I Beg to Differ will help me communicate with integrity and clarity." (Chris Willard, director of generosity initiatives and premium service, Leadership Network, and coauthor of Contagious Generosity)

"Over the last twenty years or so, we have witnessed an explosion of important works in Christian apologetics. But what have been missing are books teaching us how to communicate our ideas in effective ways with those who have a different viewpoint. I Beg to Differ meets this need in a wonderful way. Muehlhoff brings together an expertise in communication, a deep integration of biblical teaching and decades of ministry experience to produce a book that is highly practical and theoretically solid. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how to interact with people of different perspectives." (J. P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Biola University, and coauthor of The God Conversation)

"This book can pull your marriage out of the communication ditch. It's practical, authentic and full of helpful insight. It can help you move your marriage to a whole new level." (Bob Lepine, cohost, FamilyLife Today)

"Having worked in college ministry for over twenty years, we are always looking for resources to help people engage those with differing views on campus. With Tim Muehlhoff's help, even difficult conversations can foster understanding instead of driving a wedge." (Bob and Jill Fuhs, Cru staff, Los Angeles and Orange County)

"This is a deeply wise book. In it, Tim Muehlhoff offers hope, but not just hope; he also provides practical tools to help us communicate about differences in ways that foster growth more than division. Illustrating the book are powerful examples that are illuminated by Muehlhoff's seamless blending of insights from communication research and lessons from the Scriptures. The result is a book that resonates powerfully with our lives and invites us to become better versions of ourselves." (Julia T. Wood, Lineberger Distinguished Professor of Humanities, Emerita, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"I love this book! My life can sometimes feel like a cauldron of conflict--from negotiating a price on a Craigslist purchase to serious disagreements with my neighbors, colleagues and family members. In I Beg to Differ author Tim Muehlhoff clearly articulates both the theory of conflict resolution and the practical methods of dealing with real people! This book has already challenged me to be a more intentional steward of my relationships. Read it, then reread it--the people around you will thank you!" (Chris Zaugg, executive director, Keynote (a ministry of Cru))

"In I Beg to Differ Tim Muehlhoff provides winsome strategies for moving positively through difficult relational scenarios by the power of dialogue. His holistic approach weds insightful communication principles with the foundational issues of credibility, confidence and spiritual enablement, offering informed wisdom to readers dealing with a broad swath of communication impasses. The payoff is genuine hope that peaceful resolutions are possible, even in our most troublesome and painful conversations, as we walk on a path of truth and love." (Dr. Jon and Pam Lunde)

"Over the years, Tim Muehlhoff's thoughts and guidance on personal communication have helped me grow as a person and as a leader. In I Beg to Differ, he once again provides me with strategies I can immediately apply to what I do every day, in business and in my personal life." (Jon Basalone, executive vice president, marketing and merchandising, Trader Joe's Company)

"Whatever venture or calling you live, relationships are the lifeblood. If you have ever desired to engage others in an exciting endeavor or longed to experience rich, meaningful community, Tim Muehlhoff's insights are worth your time. If you have any desire to make a difference in this world, you must understand how to steward the power of words. There are insights here worth your time!" (Greg Lillestrand, US director, Cru)

"Communications expert Tim Muehlhoff provides a strategy for having difficult conversations, helping us move from contentious debate to constructive dialogue. By acknowledging and entering into the other person's story, we are more likely to understand where they're coming from and to cultivate common ground. Insights from Scripture and communication theory provide practical ways to manage disagreements and resolve conflicts." (Light Magazine, April 2014)

"Tim has the gift of taking profound insights based on solid scholarship and Scripture and making them easily understandable and practical. He exudes integrity in his own life and communication. I plan to study and apply the principles in this book!" (Roger Hershey, national speaker, Cru, and author of The Finishers)

"I Beg to Differ charts the course we are looking for. Considering the causes of conflict, the power of words, our emotions and the role of spiritual disciplines, Muehlhoff offers a four-question strategy that helps us engage any disagreement with gentle conversation. The book closes with three case studies, applying the strategy to real-life, potentially volatile situations. So insightful! Fans of Ken Sande's Peacemaker will love this. Recommend this book to everyone." (David Mundt, CBA Retailers + Resources, April 2014)

"Conflict can be an indicator light of a relationship trending toward intimacy. Because of this, if we want to experience the joys of long-term, authentic relationships, we have to learn how to navigate conflict well. My friend Tim Muehlhoff gives us a strategy and practical tools to help guide us in having those sometimes unpleasant but necessary encounters." (Bryan Loritts, lead pastor, Fellowship Memphis)

"This book prepares all Christians to face many of the blunt questions that unbelievers pose to them. It's a good handbook for survival methods during evangelistic outreach work." (Church Libraries, Summer 2014)

"One doesn't have to look far to find myriad examples of incivility--from political commentators who cut off and ridicule their guests to boardrooms to church and faculty meetings to the dinner table. I can think of no one better than Tim Muehlhoff to provide insight and practical wisdom on how to navigate difficult conversations with grace and truth. Tim doesn't just apply his considerable scholarly expertise and biblical knowledge to the subject; he lives what he writes." (Carol Taylor, president, Evangel University)

About the Author

Tim Muehlhoff (PD., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication and gender. Tim is the coauthor of The God Conversation: Using Stories and Illustrations to Explain Your Faith and Authentic Communication: Christian Speech Engaging Culture. He and his wife, Noreen, are frequent speakers at FamilyLife Marriage Conferences, and Tim has served with Campus Crusade since 1986. They live in Brea, California, with their three boys. Tim has written about God, communication and faith in diverse publications such as the Journal of Religion and Communication, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, Mars Hill Review and Discipleship Journal. You can visit Tim's website at www.timmuehlhoff.com.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (March 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830844163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830844166
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Conflict is inevitable. We all have different experiences, beliefs and passions. There will likely be a moment where your 'silver bullet' of an idea collides with my hobby horse (most likely while I try to run you over). We have also likely struggled with how to navigate difficult issues where we disagree vehemently with those we love. Tim Muehlhoff, professor of communications at Biola University, has written a book designed to help us navigate difficult conversations. I Beg to Differ describes a process of communication which will take us out of 'fight mode' to dialogue
In part one, Muehlhoff describes the power of words, why conflicts occur, the necessity of managing your emotions, and the importance of spiritual disciplines for preparing us to respond to difficult conversations with grace and understanding. Several marriage books I've read have stated that better communication alone, equals better ability to fight. Muehlhoff goes beyond this by orienting us to approach each conflict (or potential conflict) with Christlike character. Part two outlines Muehlhoff's essential method. In approaching difficult conversations, he proposes asking four questions:

What does this person believe?
Why does this person hold to that belief?
Where do we agree?
Where do we go from here?
These four questions enable us to listen with empathy, even where we find ourselves in fundamental disagreement. Throughout this section, Muehlhoff uses an example of a difficult conversation. He was asked by some friends to talk to their son Mark, a PhD candidate in Religious Studies who had walked away from the Christian faith of his upbringing. Muehlhoff's conversation with Mark shows how asking these four questions helps foster a sdeeper and more fruitful dialogue.
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I read this rather quickly. Very informative Christian perspective. I like the review at the end of the chapters. Now I can see why so many conversations go wrong. I am encouraged that I may be able to improve and possibly repair some relationships that are not what I would like them to be. Started reading another one by Muehlhoff about marriage communication. It occurred to me after reading this one that I could improve my marriage if I could improve how we relate to each other through words.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When growing up, a lot of times we learn that we can not disagree with another person. This books lets us know it is okay to disagree in a loving way.

Excellent information for people who have difficulty expressing themselves.
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Format: Paperback
I heard this author on a Christian radio program and really got a lot out of the discussion he had with the host on the topic covered in this book. But what I learned from that radio show was all I got out of the book--his four steps in communicating when there is a difficult issue to resolve, which could have been said with a lot less pages. He spends too much time covering other people's research and writings as background and takes very good care to cite their work. This actually ruined the flow of the text for me. And I wasn't interested in this background information which really did not support his main reason for writing this book. I wanted him to get to the meat of what he had to say. When he did, it was exactly what I heard on the radio show. These communication steps are very good, make sense, and are simple to understand. His examples of them being used in dialogue were also good.
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This is an excellent book on how to navigate difficult conversations by speaking the truth, as you understand it, in love. Based on sound research in communication studies, it provides practical suggestions on how to actually orchestrate conversation about contentious issues. I highly recommend it for those involved in public discourse in politics, religion or education.

Harold Heie
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Format: Paperback
I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Truth and Love. By Tim Muehlhoff. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014. 222 pp. $15.00. ISBN 978-0-8308-4416-6.

Everybody, or almost everybody, engages in conversations with other people. Everybody, or almost everybody, can think of at least one conversation that they have had in their lives that could have gone better. That is why a book like this can be helpful to everybody, or almost everybody. In I Beg to Differ Tim Muehlhoff offers a theory of conversation that is grounded in biblical wisdom, contemporary social studies and psychology, and informed by philosophy. In this book review we will first consider the purpose of the book. We will then consider how the author attains his purpose, concluding with some thoughts on the relative importance and utility of this book.

The purpose of this book, as the cover states, is to help the reader navigate “difficult conversations with truth and love.” This book, as the author states in the introduction, “is more than a book about conflict; it is a book about communication between those who differ on significant points (p. 14).” This book is written for two types of people: (1) those who have already attempted to have discussions, on important subjects, but failed to finish well, (2) those who foresee a discussion, on an important subject, with someone, and think that the discussion will turn sour (p. 14). The subject of the discussion is unimportant, Muehlhoff seeks to give the reader the necessary tools for navigating the dangerous waters of any discussion that is important for the people engaged in discussion.

The author goes about accomplishing his goals in three stages, each stage divided into different sections.
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