Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most Audible Audiobook – Abridged
Dealing with your ex-husband, who can't seem to show up reliably for weekends with the kids; navigating a workplace fraught with office politics or racial tensions; saying "I'm sorry" or "I love you."
We all have difficult conversations, no matter how confident or competent we are. And too often, no matter what we try, things don't go well. Should you say what you're thinking and risk starting a fight? Swallow your views and feel like a doormat? Or should you let them have it? But - what if you're wrong?
Difficult Conversations shows you a way out of this dilemma; it teaches you how to handle even the toughest conversations more effectively and with less anxiety. Based on 15 years of work at Harvard Negotiation Project and consultations with thousands of people, the authors answer the question: When people confront the conversations they dread the most, what works?
Difficult Conversations walks you through a proven, concrete, step-by-step approach for understanding and conducting tough conversations. It shows you how to get ready, how to start the conversations in ways that reduce defensiveness, and how to keep the conversation on a constructive track regardless of how the other person responds.
Whether you're dealing with your baby-sitter or biggest client, your boss or your brother-in-law, Difficult Conversations can help.
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|Listening Length||5 hours and 40 minutes|
|Author||Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen|
|Narrator||Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 27, 2000|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2,761 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#8 in Words, Language & Grammar (Audible Books & Originals)
#13 in Management Science
#15 in Relationship Conflict Resolution
Top reviews from the United States
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Difficult conversations are a normal part of life - we have them with friends, colleagues, relatives, in a variety of settings. Examples of conversations discussed are breaking up in a relationship, asking for a raise, dealing with an ex on child-related issues, dealing with perceived racism at work, dealing with perceived poor workmanship. This is the stuff of everyday life.
The authors contend that each difficult conversation is really three conversations - one involves what happened, one involves feelings, and the third involves self-identity.
WHAT HAPPENED? With respect to what happened, we need to be open to and curious about another person's perception of what happened, instead of clinging to our own version of the truth. The authors caution us not to speculate about others' intents, be genuinely curious about the other person's perspective, and embrace the "and stance." You may be right and they may be right. Don't assume that all of they stories are mutually exclusive. We need to focus on contributions to the situation, not blame, and try to understand our own roles in contributing to the conflict. Being unapproachable, avoiding conflict, and allowing a bad situation to remain unchecked are all forms of contribution.
FEELINGS. Feelings should be expressed and described carefully, without judging, blaming, or attributing. When we don't share our feelings, we are depriving other persons of an opportunity to learn how their behavior impacts us. Keeping our feelings to ourselves really keeps us out of the relationship and makes problem-solving more difficult.
IDENTITY. This discussion was the most enlightening part of the book for me. The authors contend that difficult conversations threaten our own identity, because they may require us to say something that is inconsistent with our own self-image. I can't fire someone, because I am a nice person and a nice person wouldn't cause someone to lose his job. I can't admit I made a mistake because I am a competent professional who doesn't deliver shoddy work. I can't confront my child's teacher because I'm not one of those pain-in-the-rear parents who try to run the school. I can't ask for a raise - what if my boss tells me that I'm not performing as well as my colleagues. Identity issues can cause us to be in denial, and we can allow others' feedback to define us. The trick here is again, to embrace the "and stance." Know that others may perceive us differently that we perceive ourselves; both perceptions are reality. We can be a nice person and at the same time fire someone.
The authors also note that the other party to a conversation has an identity, also, and we must be mindful of our comments that shake their identity.
APPROACHING THE CONVERSATION.
After discussing the "three conversations," the authors outline how to approach the difficult conversation. Is this issue even worth raising? If so, you want to learn the other party's story, express your own feelings, and seek a path forward.
The best starting point is from the "third story" - how a neutral mediator might describe the situation. When we begin within our own story, we trigger defensiveness from the start. The authors discuss a number of listening and inquiry skills - nothing new in substance, but the presentation makes lots of sense and is always grounded in real-world examples. There are concrete tips for speaking clearly and remaining in control of our emotions in an imbalanced situation.
Throughout the book, there are plenty of examples, nearly all of them common situations. The authors describe a conversation that gets off to a rotten start, and then show how you can reframe and redirect the conversation down a more productive path. It's very subtle and particularly enlightening.
Overall, this is a highly readable, very good book, one that I believe will be more valuable after several readings.