Though its basic pitch is not to lose control, this communication-in-the-workplace tome quickly gets out of hand with diagrams and charts, case studies, lists, jargon--and maddeningly unclear differentiations throughout. How, for example, is one to extract a sense of progress from a book where three of the twelve chapters are titled ""Starting to Get Off the Defensive,"" ""Getting Off the Defensive,"" and ""Getting Off the Defensive and Staying Centered""? Nondefensive communication, which is buttonholed as ""absence of threat, centering, taking responsibility for oneself, planning, taking risks, and keeping control over self,"" rests on a number of assumptions, some shaky, some obvious. Among them: that personal strength can override the power bestowed by an advantage in position; that more and more employees are concerned with standing up for their values, despite potentially dire consequences; that non-defensive communication is basically a goal-directed process of ""choosing among options""; that organizational climates tend to reinforce our learned defensive behavior through rewards for conforming or punishment for deviating from norms. The remedy? Such classics as active listening, identifying underlying values, self-knowledge, and self-acceptance. These basics are partially obscured by an extremely dense fabric of techniques (""If Surface Meaning Is Negative, Reverse or Divert It and Shift Its Assumptions"") and boxed-off proclamations: ""Whenever you ASSUME, you make make an ASS out of U and ME."" Suited primarily to the rigors of the classroom, and perhaps a bit too hectic even for that.