We all know what it’s like to face a difficult issue with a partner, friend, or co-worker. We want to discuss the subject and resolve it, but we fear hurt feelings, anger, and a damaged relationship. When feelings are strong, it’s hard to approach the other person in a positive and collaborative spirit. Difficult Conversations introduces an approach developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project, the folks who gave us Getting to Yes. Instead of focusing on getting our own way, we can invite the other person to join us in a “learning conversation,” where we collaborate to work things out. When we do this, we may find our own opinions changing at the same time the other person becomes more open to our viewpoint. The book provides practical tools for making this shift. They include techniques for preparing for a conversation, listening well, and expressing yourself effectively. It even includes tips for talking with people who may not be ready (at first) for a collaborative conversation.
Review by: Susan Owicki
Authors: Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen of the Harvard Negotiation Project