The One Sentence Summary

Five questions can build the best possible relationships – ones that are safe, vital, and repairable.

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  • Every working relationship can be made better. The aim is to have the Best Possible Relationship or BPR. This requires having what the author calls Keystone Conversations. The five questions in it are:
  1. The Amplify Question: What’s your best? This helps you name your best qualities.
  2. The Steady Question: What are your practices and preferences? Explain your working habits to make it easier for people to work with you.
  3. The Good Date Question: What can you learn from successful past relationships? Drawing on lessons from the past enables you increase what works.
  4. The Bad Date Question: What can you learn from frustrating past relationships? This helps you to avoid things that don’t work well.
  5. The Repair Question: How will you fix it when things go wrong? Time doesn’t repair all wounds, but equally a broken relationship doesn’t have to stay broken. There is wisdom in the wound – learning from the experience.
  • In the conversation you need to make the first move, make it safe for the other person from the start (by removing fear), ask and answer intently in the middle, and appreciate the good at the end.
  • Four drivers make the brain feel safe, using the acronym TERA:
    • Tribe: Are you with me or against me?
    • Expectation: Do I know the future or don’t I?
    • Rank: Are you more or less important than I am?
    • Autonomy: Do I get a say or don’t I?
  • To keep this process alive, you need to accept that disintegration is inevitable, and apply principles of maintenance.
  1. Orient: know what’s going on
  2. Adjust always: Give and take receive
  3. Repair often: Manage the damage
  4. Reset as needed: The ending becomes another beginning
  • Those in relationships that have settled into stable ambiguity need to imagine what a Best Possible Relationship could be like and take the necessary steps.


  • The BPR is the Best Possible Relationship. When you commit to this, you commit to intentionally designing and managing the way you work with people rather than just accepting what happens.
  • People join an organisation but leave a manager. You don’t want to be that manager. You don’t want to have that manager.
  • The curse of confidence traps you into doing what you are good at but not necessarily fulfilled by.
  • The overall mantra is: stay curious, stay vulnerable, stay kind, adjust always, repair often, and reset as needed.
  • The US Air Force identifies the OODA loop. That’s Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. That means establishing the facts (not judgments or feelings) and acknowledging the position you are in. Then you can work out how to improve matters.


  • The book is interspersed with what could be described as advertising for the author and his other books, which interrupts the flow somewhat.
  • It benefits from being short but trails off a bit at the end with assorted questions and bonus material.