Follow the Authors
Difficult Conversations Hardcover – March 30 1999
Whether you're dealing with an underperforming employee, disagreeing with your spouse about money or child-rearing, negotiating with a difficult client, or simply saying "no," or "I'm sorry," or "I love you," we attempt or avoid difficult conversations every day. Based on fifteen years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project, Difficult Conversations walks you through a step-by-step proven approach to having your toughest conversations with less stress and more success. You will learn:
how to start the conversation without defensiveness
why what is not said is as important as what is
ways of keeping and regaining your balance in the face of attacks and accusations
how to decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation
Filled with examples from everyday life, Difficult Conversations will help you on the job, at home, or out in the world. It is a book you will turn to again and again for advice, practical skills, and reassurance.
Difficult Conversations is a New York Times Business Bestseller.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- Publisher : Viking USA; First Edition (March 30 1999)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0670883395
- ISBN-13 : 978-0670883394
- Item weight : 499 g
- Dimensions : 15.24 x 3.18 x 24.13 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #706,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Top reviews from Canada
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I would read this non-stop before preformance reviews and before intense coaching sesssions, gave me the tools I needed to enable me to be sucessful in my new roles.
One can't help wondering, however, if the only people reading this book are already self-actualized or so well on their way that they are, in fact, the best communicators among us. The authors' failed to address the lingering doubt left with the critical, reflective reader: that most difficult conversations are the fruits of difficult people, who, unless they read this book, have little capacity or motivation to be anything but difficult. In any case, Difficult Conversations is mostly devoted to explaining and analyzing the three conversations and how one can use these categories to have more productive exchanges. The book has many useful graphic organizers, including a checklist and a roadmap for engaging in difficult conversations.
In effect, Stone and his colleagues argue that we must shift from a perspective of "knowing" to "learning". Meaningful conversations can take place when we don't permit our assumptions to rule the moment, rather when we take control by being curious, open, and self-aware. To find out what happened, we need to explore each other's stories, separate intent from impact, abandon the blame framework, and to consider all conflicts as a system ("the contribution system"), to which every party has contributed in some way. They argue that the blame framework is a clue that feelings are playing a significant role in a conflict. Feelings often get translated into judgements, attributions, characterizations, or solutions. The key to managing feelings is to treat them as facts by acknowledging them, and considering how they are part of the problem and exploring them fully. All too often our feelings emerge from the sense that our identity is somehow at stake. Most of us frame our identities around one or all of three core themes: competence, virtue, or worthiness. When we feel any of these is questioned, we revert to fight or flight. We can best manage the identity issue by understanding ourselves as complex, by knowing we make mistakes, by acknowledging that our intentions are not simple, and by recognizing that all parties contribute to problems. The "learning" must begin within ourselves before we can understand issues or problems with others.
We can affect our own conversational "learning" by engaging in "the third story" conversation, which requires us to consider how a third party would describe and analyze the situation. This sets up a process of internal dialogue, which is necessary to check our own perceptions, feelings, and interests. Further, the authors encourage listening from the inside out, speaking for yourself, and taking the initiative. While the book combines theory, examples, and description, it is also a very handy guide to improving one's communication style in the workplace or at home.
I am not a counsellor but I found this book in the library where I work. What a Godsend! I had to purchase my own copy. I have since been able to practice the steps in this book with many important relationships in my life.
This book is a must for any library and a must read for anyone. It should be required reading in high schools.
Conflict is inevitable. But in business and life we often avoid essential conversations like asking for a well-deserved raise, giving feedback to a touchy staff-member or confronting a friend who has been undermining us.
It doesn't have to be that way. This invaluable book gives you the lowdown on a rare life-skill that will help you:
- Shine as you move up the corporate ladder (and preserve your sanity too!)
- Move more easily through your personal relationships (think friends, parents, children, partners)
While the book is quite left-brained, the concepts are straightforward and well developed. You can keep going back to this book - ESSENTIAL READING!
One of the book's strongest points is its focus on the underlying problems that create situations where conversation becomes difficult. The temptation to digress and meander into a quagmire of various psychological/environmental/biological explainations can be great, but the writers stays the course, using only pertinent examples and explainations, keeping the book fairly short and to the point.
Many works of this genre focus on superficial fixes. Some of those do work, particularly for short term situations. However, the topics covered in this book go a little below that superficial surface, often seriously questioning common behaviors that often contribute and prolong difficult conversations/situations.
A caveat: the recommended techniques hold great promise, but using them requires quite a bit of work. Unlike the many fixes from other sources, there are no promises of immediate success. Instead, there may be many obstacles both from the self and from others that will come up.
However, perserverance does seem to pay off. I work at a large law firm and the perpectives and solutions offered in this work has made my work easier and more productive.
Top reviews from other countries
I unfortunately had to wait until my 50s to read this book, but I think it is excellent to read and apply to your communication at any age. I only wish I had read and used this book in my early 20s. Strongly recommended!
The book is packed with relevant examples, and lots of ideas on how to rethink approach to these issues. Importantly it also tackles the “how you apply this theory in the real world” point as thats often where I struggle in converting the stylised examples to that which relate to my own circumstances.
I’ve found myself rethinking lots of my own narrative, taking notes on how to approach future situations and with a degree of confidence (and excitement!) in tackling some of my own difficult conversations in order to improve my own mindset, my relationships and the outcomes delivered