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Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (1999)

by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen, Bruce Patton

Other authors: Roger Fisher (Foreword)

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1,954197,504 (3.99)7
Difficult Conversations presents a useful step-by-step guide on how to deal with the most challenging conversations. Also, more often than not, dealing constructively with tough topics deepens a relationship.
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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Mostly common sense advice - easy to read about, hard to put into practice. ( )
  steve02476 | Jan 3, 2023 |
Lots of really great ideas in this book but it badly needs a revised edition. Some of the off hand examples are a little too “both sides”-y when it comes to domestic violence and racism. Those specific difficult conversations as it were demand more nuance than a couple of sentences each could possibly provide. In terms of content otherwise 5/5, leaving unrated.
  Sennie_V | Mar 22, 2022 |
Conflict management advice: Working out how to listen with curiosity to others’ perspectives by finding their story of how and why the conflict occurred; how to disentangle character/intent from impact (yours and theirs); how to recognize the importance of the parties’ feelings while not treating them as attributions of “who is really to blame”; and so on. Seems quite useful and quite difficult to commit to. Key principles: In a conflict, everyone makes a contribution, which is not the same as everyone being to blame, equally or otherwise. Resolving a conflict requires understanding the parties’ contribution, but does not require judging, especially by the parties themselves. But the key thing here is that avoiding blame does not mean avoiding your feelings about the conflict. There are example conversations of how to reframe away from blame to understanding, even in the face of a partner who wants to win instead. ( )
  rivkat | Jul 19, 2021 |
This one of the best communication books I've read. Although, it might be actually more a psychology book in disguise.

This is not a typical communication/negotiation book, where you receive tactical tips on how to assess the other party's goal, frame the situation, and navigate the conversation to end it up as close to your goal as possible. "Difficult Conversations" is more of a strategic planning book, where you receive tips on how to explore your feelings and motives to stay grounded when emotions and irrationally kick in (and no one in the conversation might even have any specific goals). And once you're good at it you cen help the other party do the same.

I really like how it embraces the human side of having a heated discussion and guides self-discovery. It provides a lot of examples (some of them more believable and realistic, some less) that illustrate the theory and make it more accessible via a variety of situations and contexts of difficult conversations. I find many of the presented concepts thought-provoking and useful, I wish I had read it earlier in my life and apply them more often.

It was an extremely slow read for me. The book is pretty dense and there are so many different examples, stories, and reports accompanying each concept that I had to hit a pause and digest because it was too much at once. Multiple breaks helped the content to sink in, which is not necessarily a bad thing but something to keep in mind when approaching "Difficult Conversations". ( )
  sperzdechly | Sep 2, 2020 |
The authors present a systematic way to handle difficult conversations. Man, it's going to take a ton a practice though. Addressing emotions appropriately was a big take home message. What's taught here is worthy of persistent practice. ( )
  bsmashers | Aug 1, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stone, Douglasprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heen, Sheilamain authorall editionsconfirmed
Patton, Brucemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Fisher, RogerForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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Difficult Conversations presents a useful step-by-step guide on how to deal with the most challenging conversations. Also, more often than not, dealing constructively with tough topics deepens a relationship.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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