Difficult Conversations

by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen

I appreciate how ‘real’ this book is.

Consider the following statements made by the author, with regards to the work championed by this book:

“Who has time for all this in the real world? Nobody.”

“You’re allowed to give up… you can’t change other people. When you finally give up the idea that you have the power to change others, you are giving up something you never had anyway – control.”

The authors are well aware of the limits (and health risks) of navigating Difficult Conversations. That being said, he also knows his way around them extremely well – his deconstruction of such interactions is detailed and comprehensively described. Each component is vividly demonstrated through re-enactments. This allowed me to understand, blow-by-blow, how they occur and how we can possibly intervene for more positive outcomes.

What I also appreciate (and did not expect) was the robustness of the peripheral knowledge, particularly the depth of the “Identity Conversation” chapter. It struck a strong chord with me as it is a major theme of my self-work and, likely, that of anyone who is suffering due to a more “fixed” way of regarding themselves.

I was going to ‘snack’ on this book while I read another as my ‘main’, but it ended up capturing my full attention. I caught myself nodding and vocalizing my agreement at several junctures and chuckling at others, coz’ it was all true to life. The author understands and captured the idiosyncrasies of this aspect of the human condition, even better than he did in his other (already great) book, “Thanks For The Feedback“.

There may very well be good textbooks written on this subject. But for me, this should be the defacto MANUAL for handling Difficult Conversations! It has made a dent in my life-space, and will also figure in big ways in the interventions I perform for my clients.