Difficult Conversations

How to Discuss What Matters Most

This book, filled with examples, walks you through a step-by-step approach to conducting the toughest conversations with less stress and more success. A New York Times Business Best Seller.

250 pages. ©2010.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted January 25, 2023


This is a great book. Going to use this as a guide for a parenting class.


Review posted January 17, 2023


I wanted to like this book. It has a good amount of general advice and information but provides ZERO footnotes or references for the ideas and insights it puts forth. Having come from a background where cited sources are an important part of the edification of knowledge, the lack of it here is very off-putting.


Review posted December 31, 2022


Highly recommend this reading, especially if you work with involuntary lines of work, where customers don't want to talk in the first place. Trying to address problems is an ongoing process. We can learn to understand patterns and reasons behind difficult communications. The positives of this book are many, from expanding verbiage for productive conversation opportunities. It is somewhat a guide for you to help control your own emotional responses during conflict, or manage to reduce the anxiety and deal with problematic conversations with less personal distress.


Review posted October 8, 2022


We all want positive outcomes from our conversations and we especially hope for that when it comes to difficult conversations. This book is helpful and applicable to any type of difficult conversation wether it’s for personal relationships outside of work or for relationships with colleagues, people you supervise, or your bosses.


Review posted October 7, 2022


As a manager this book is helping me have difficult conversations in a way that is compassionate and beneficial to everyone involved.


Review posted October 5, 2022


I REALLY Enjoyed this book!! It is easy to read, includes great topics and advice you can immediately put into action!! I have no doubt I will be referring back to this book for years!!!


Review posted July 5, 2022


I have recently changed jobs and I expect that I will be having many difficult conversations in the future as there will be changes. I can see picking this book up to remind myself of how to have those difficult conversations! What a great resource! I love the 10 questions at the back. Very helpful!

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Review posted June 23, 2022


Good concrete suggestions for those difficult conversations. Great resource to create training for supervisors.


Review posted May 3, 2022


This book was amazing, I thought it would be boring and like a text book but it wasn't it was easy to read and follow.


Review posted April 27, 2022


Difficult conversations? We all have them! Stone, Patton and Heen have provided a proven guide for those moments when the conversation is awkward, difficult, or potentially dangerous. A helpful tool that has been around awhile yet still contains useful information.


Review posted April 13, 2022


I found this book to be a good overview of how to get started having some of those hard conversations. I liked the examples provided, which gave readers some insights into how these types of things can go. It was great to see examples of times it didn't go well along with successful conversations. It was also validating to read that it's okay to give up sometimes. Very easy to read with not a lot of academic jargon to clutter things up.


Review posted April 5, 2022


Started reading this with hope for a new skill and I was not disappointed. This book opened my mind up a little with how it breaks down the conversations and getting to the actual "meat" of a conversation. We can't actually avoid difficult conversations, and when we post pone them, they only get more difficult. Definitely a good read if you want to start feeling empowered to start a difficult conversation rather than waiting for one to come to you.


Review posted March 2, 2022


Practical - I was able to start applying the concepts from this book right away at work, with family and friends. I also found the content helpful when doing reflective work in order to feel better prepared for difficult convos long before they occur


Review posted February 21, 2022


good book. easy to read. i enjoyed it.

William Anderson

Review posted February 8, 2022


Great book. Helpful hints for making those difficult talks a little easier.


Review posted December 7, 2021


book is easy to read. love it.


Review posted December 7, 2021


it is simple to read and deep at the same time. good book.


Review posted October 20, 2021


While I found a lot of good information in this book, I did not find it particularly accessible. Maybe because it came out of a Harvard University project, I found the pace to be too fast and one good topic following another too quickly, making it difficult for me to relate. The topics are sorted into three categories: what happened, feelings about what happened, and how what happened impacts your identity. I really appreciate the emphasis on feelings and that expressing them matters. A particularly toothsome quote I found in this section on feelings was, "While there may be common themes, your emotional footprint will be different in different relationships." Each of these three topics breaks down into further conversations. A lot of the examples of conversations used in this book were from workplace settings, which I also found made it difficult to relate for me. Maybe if you are someone who memorizes and charts information well, this book would have been helpful for you. I would have been interested in seeing more prompts for starting difficult conversations around subjects like discrimination and equity, and suggestions for breaking the ice on topics which have previously been taboo.


Review posted October 18, 2021


I found the final section of the book to be incredibly helpful as it answered some of my questions on how to navigate hard conversations when one or more people are unable to fully listen in order to respond and/or are being deemed to be difficult. The book also really helped show how our emotions can get the best of us and impact the conversations that we are having. I am more of a visual learner so perhaps when possible more visual representations of the different types of conversations could be something that can be done in future revisions as I found it hard to push through at times, but this is due to my learning style.

Christen Mansuetti

Review posted October 8, 2021


As a person who has always avoided difficult conversations I found this book very helpful. It helped me connect with my confidence to navigate conversations mindfully and understanding that difficult conversations are not negative but rather a chance for growth.


Review posted September 18, 2021


AMAZING resource for management in the crisis field. Hard conversations happen often and this book supports those tough positions- giving a starting point.


Review posted August 19, 2021


amazing book


Review posted August 15, 2021


This book helped me broach conversations on challenging subjects with my family. The guidelines were clear and logical.


Review posted August 6, 2021


awesome book helps how to approach questions in a better way i've had a great experience so far


Review posted July 10, 2021


This book lays it out for difficult conversations we all may have from family members to the workplace. This book helps with skills that are needed within our careers to stay professional and feel heard and seen.

Melaney Dunne

Review posted July 8, 2021


As a supervisor, this book has provided integral tools and strategies to consider when providing feedback to staff. Moreover, it has been critically helpful in my position when working with external partners when there are divergent ideas or perspectives. I would highly recommend for folks that manage staff or work with the community often.

Shannon Jiles

Review posted June 28, 2021


I thought this book was very informative.


Review posted May 17, 2021


This book was so helpful! I decided to read it while I was taking a speech class in college and a lot of the topics intermingled. This book gave me a better understanding of the lessons I learned in class and was an altogether easy and enjoyable read. It is not like reading a textbook, rather an interesting informative piece of work that would benefit anybody because we all have difficult conversations in our lives.


Review posted May 14, 2021


This book has some very helpful skills for having difficult conversations. I thought it was pretty basic, but easy to follow along and try out.


Review posted April 9, 2021


Difficult conversations are one of the most challenging part of being a part of a community, whether with a coworker, a family member, a friend. This book sets out a simple formula that while not perfect for every conversation, creates a good starting place.


Review posted March 31, 2021


Great read


Review posted March 15, 2021


Who among us hasn't faced a difficult conversation we dread? This book starts off with some great content in the introduction and keeps going. Outstanding examples and information; a stellar and easy read. I will absolutely keep this handy for citing in the future.


Review posted March 10, 2021


This is a practical book that is easy to read and constructed in bite-sized portions. Anyone looking to pick up relational conversation skills could find something helpful here.


Review posted February 23, 2021


This is a extremely helpful book for anyone in the mental health professions.

Waver Velvet

Review posted February 21, 2021


"Difficult Conversations" divides difficult conversations into three different conversations involving figuring out truth, intentions, and moving from blame to contributions, sharing feelings in the second conversation, and understanding how the conversation will affect your identity.


Review posted January 6, 2021


This book talks about a wide spectrum of difficult conversations. There are plenty of examples ranging in everyday type to the much harder kind of discussions we often avoid or go about it the wrong way. Reading this book was an eye-opener to my mistakes in conversation on tough topics. I would recommend this book to everyone, for life is full of conversations that make us feel uncomfortable. I am walking away with sharpened tools in my toolbelt for better communication and tips for improving my relationships in my life. I want to mention that it is easy to read the chapter book and the connection to what the author is saying is easy. I will be keeping this book close for helpful reminders when I get stuck in important conversations.


Review posted October 26, 2020


This is an important topic and one that I knew I could use help with so I ordered this book. It took me a while to actually pick it up and read it, because I wasn't expecting it to be as easy or fun to read, but I was wrong. This book was both engaging and helpful in thinking about how to navigate and approach difficult conversations.


Review posted September 29, 2020


This book gave me many great strategies for having hard talks. It gave me great problem solving for my students.


Review posted September 29, 2020


A good review of communication for situations that seem to come up that typically give you pause. Something to refer back to for preparation.

Kari Johnson

Review posted September 18, 2020


A short, easy to read book on how to have the most difficult conversations of your life! It's the wisdom you wish your grandparents had laid on you. If our relationships with other living beings is the essence of life, then this is essential reading.


Review posted July 1, 2020


This book shed a lot of light on theories and advice for having difficult conversations. There is no way to avoid the situation, as these occasions will inevitably arise. Having the tools on how to properly address the situation harbor success and leave both parties feeling heard and considered.


Review posted June 11, 2020


This book helped me not only navigate difficult conversations with my board of directors, but also with my friends and family. It helped shift my perspective to truly seeing the other person's side of the story, and understanding how I "contribute" to a disagreement. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and especially to those who, like me, found themselves in a leadership role and feel a tad bit over their heads.


Review posted May 21, 2020


Great book!


Review posted May 13, 2020


This material is really relevant in conversations in both my line of work and in personal relationships. Enjoyed!


Review posted April 19, 2020


Great resource on communication skills. Keeping this one in my work library for clients to refer to.


Review posted April 5, 2020


Clear, lots of practical advice, relevant for work and private life. Good for more than one read.


Review posted April 4, 2020


This book was interesting. I had read another similar but this one was more in depth and had better discussions to go off of. I would really recommend this book. I am going through a time where I have to communicate with a person who twists everything I say. This book has helped me block that from happening.


Review posted April 4, 2020


Difficult Conversations helped me immensely at my job. I have hard conversations every single day, most of the time, more than twice per day. This book provided me so many different techniques to help the other person understand why. They actually began to hear my conversations rather than shrugging them off. This also helped to speak to my kiddo and also my husband :).

Wasco Will

Review posted March 24, 2020


Excellent book dealing with something we all have to do at some point, both personally and professionally.


Review posted February 23, 2020


This book has been an invaluable resource as I supervise and have to have those difficult conversations .


Review posted February 3, 2020


A very direct, operational manual for navigating troubled waters with others. For me, this is staying on my shelf for the right moments down the line. It's easy to be able to identify a specific issue or area of communication in the table of contents. Lots of great suggestions and an emphasis on the reader looking inward, which I think never hurts.


Review posted January 31, 2020


This book provides practical advice, step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting assistance to help you navigate challenging conversations. The material is applicable for family, work, social and community settings. The book encourages listening, empathy and problem solving. I highly recommend it.


Review posted January 24, 2020


Because we tend to avoid difficult conversations, this book does help.


Review posted January 3, 2020


This book was very interesting. I work in a field that requires me to have difficult conversations on a regular basis. I reproduced the "difficult conversations check list" and used it to prep for my meeting. It worked well. I especially liked the "reframing". I believe it gives clarity to the conversation and keeps it on track. It helps keep the conversation from turning personal.


Review posted December 20, 2019


I recently started working as a supervisor at a non-profit. This book has been immensely helpful in helping me navigate challenging conversations with both peers and my supervisees. I would highly recommend this book to any new supervisor, or someone who is so nervous about having difficult conversations that they just "suck it up" all the time and don't get their needs met. There is a better way.

Janice I Woody

Review posted November 23, 2019


Very helpful


Review posted November 23, 2019


Good topic for many situations. Good read for foster parents!


Review posted November 6, 2019


It was a very good read! Interesting!


Review posted October 21, 2019


This book has given me tremendous insight not only into the most difficult conversations but how I engage in everyday meaningful conversations. The authors provide clear actionable steps for readers to take to improve their conversations. Above all this book is more than about conversation. It is about understanding our own motivations, intentions, perspective, identities and automatisms that we do every day. I highly recommend for anyone.


Review posted October 15, 2019


I really like the way this book is laid out, it isn't often I find a book that reads in a manner that walks you through sorting out a difficult conversation. The three conversations help in shifting from what the problem is to what is felt about the problem to what can be agreed to be done about it. I just wish I had read this book earlier in my career.


Review posted October 14, 2019


We are reminded that when addressing difficult conversations, we should not expect to reach closure. This work also involves the ability to discern between what it is MY truth and reality to others, while at the same time realizing that - despite most experts’ recommendations - feelings will be part of difficult conversations as bias and proclivities will be always present. It’s worth robust as resource when engaging in such conversations, as it will prepare us for tease out The Truth, Intentions, and to what the authors refer as The Blame Frame (when sensible, smart people do stupid things). I highly recommend it, especially as we approach a pivotal time in the upcoming elections.


Review posted October 10, 2019


WONDERFUL book. It is such a good read for what I’m going through in life


Review posted August 27, 2019


A good guide to 'difficult conversations' with boss/spouse/people, i.e., clashing stories, themes that endanger your self-image, and emotions, it contains some valuable advice on how to incorporate everyone's and your own feelings in a mature way during a conversation.


Review posted August 12, 2019


Great resource for anybody looking to improve their communication skills in any setting including personal relationships, work place relationships and everything in between.


Review posted August 11, 2019


I was a bit disappointed in this book at first. It seemed to begin in a communication mode that was not smooth. However, I continued and there were some good points made. Having experience with Restorative Circles, I found myself making comparisons at times.

Sarah Levitt

Review posted July 30, 2019


Great book on a difficult conversations. Have referred this book to others I work with as well!


Review posted July 29, 2019


Great information, similar to concepts that would be covered in good couples' counseling, but with professional applications. I especially appreciated reflecting on the "what's at stake" section.


Review posted July 24, 2019


A great book for understanding and rationalizing your own reactions to difficult conversations. Taught me that maybe I'm NOT always right? A very foreign concept for me. Giving a 4/5 review because I miss the time in my life where I was less accountable for the things I said


Review posted June 5, 2019


I liked this book. Straight forward, easy and quick read but packed with helpful information on how to have difficult conversations. The section titled you can't change people was great. The stated you can hope for them to change but you can't change them. Good Information.


Review posted June 4, 2019


Very informative information and good ideas on handling such a challenging subject.


Review posted June 3, 2019


Extremely helpful and well written!


Review posted May 22, 2019


Difficult Conversations, How to discuss what matters most, is an extremely well thought out book , which includes many different ways to handle those conversations we like to avoid. I felt the very real life scenarios were helpful to put what you read into practice.

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Review posted May 17, 2019


I would highly recommend this book. It would be useful in a myriad of situations, at work, with family, and in day to day interactions. It is very practical, and gives many real life scenarios with good and bad responses. It helped me see how we need to start conversations from an open mind, and to have learning conversations. A good reminder not to judge people on what I think they mean by their words and actions.

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Review posted May 7, 2019


Cogently prepared, this book is wonderful inspiration and preparation not only for public conversations that are delicate, but also for personal ones. I have shared this book with another community leader already.


Review posted April 2, 2019


Great book

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Review posted February 13, 2019


This book is so good I keep giving it away to others! Very helpful, especially for new managers.


Review posted January 28, 2019


This book had a lot of interesting points made, although lengthy of sorts. I had to get about halfway through it before realizing I was that far in and starting to engage into the book before I started to enjoy it. Not for the easily bored reader.


Review posted January 17, 2019


Quite easy read. Full of useful guidance. Nice to have healthy habits affirmed and learn new skills as well.


Review posted January 14, 2019


Very helpful book!


Review posted January 9, 2019


As a social worker, this was a great review. As someone who shies away from confrontation, this book provides a great starting point to start to advocate for oneself. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to strengthen their communication skills.


Review posted January 2, 2019


This book was really interesting and helpful. I like the way it's written because it makes it an easy read. I'm someone that struggles having difficult conversations especially when I need to express my feelings, so I learned a lot of ways to challenge difficult conversations head on!!


Review posted December 23, 2018


Very helpful book. Skills I wish they taught in school.


Review posted December 9, 2018


Intro level, but easy and quick read. Communication mixed with emotional intelligence. The books helps with bringing some insight into communication patterns and how to have or experience these difficult conversations. One sitting kind of book.


Review posted November 13, 2018


Perfect book to learn from about how to address and manage your strong emotions when you’re dealing with difficult situations in your everyday life.


Review posted September 14, 2018


Useful, but not groundbreaking. Most of it was fairly obvious to me, but maybe not to some.


Review posted September 5, 2018


This is a useful book to return to, from time to time, for reminders about how to communicate clearly, fairly, and with understanding, even in awkward or emotionally charged situations. The authors discuss different kinds of difficult conversations and help readers step back for objective viewing of what might be occurring. They use a comfortable balance of explanation, examples, and suggestions. In the audio format, one of the male speakers was difficult (for me) to understand, so I missed some of what he was saying, but I found the rest useful.


Review posted August 29, 2018


Quite helpful. I will be referring to this book again.


Review posted June 18, 2018


Great read! I have been able to take the tools from this book and apply them in my personal and professional life. Thank you


Review posted June 3, 2018


Great everyday suggestions. Good read.


Review posted June 1, 2018


This is an excellent discussion of how to deal with conflict and difficult conversations. I found the 10 Frequently Asked Questions very informative. The answers to these questions help clarify how and even when to use the processes and techniques presented in the book. I highly recommend this book for laypeople and professionals looking at developing their communication and conflict/difficult conversations skills.


Review posted May 23, 2018


Not a book for the beginner but excellent for defining the types of troublesome communication.


Review posted March 2, 2018


I liked this book and the concepts and advice about having difficult conversations more than a similar book offered by TFFF about working with difficult people. Much less listing of obvious steps and approaches.


Review posted February 19, 2018


Highly recommend this book for anyone who interacts with any other human being. It will give you a step-by-step approach to having those tough conversations with less stress and more success. you'll learn how to: · Decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation · Start a conversation without defensiveness · Listen for the meaning of what is not said · Stay balanced in the face of attacks and accusations · Move from emotion to productive problem solving


Review posted February 11, 2018


Loved this book. Great information and real life examples. Looking for our contribution over placing bl aim, so huge!!


Review posted November 30, 2017


This book was helpful... the situations were a little different than the one's I was dealing with but the were easy enough to put to use with them. I am always thankful for your helpful books and extra learning help. Thank you!


Review posted November 3, 2017


Looking forward to having this book as a resource.

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Review posted November 2, 2017


Reading "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" was very enlightening and there was a lot of good information. This book talks about why conversations can be difficult and it focuses a lot on the "conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values". It goes on to talk about how it doesn't matter who is "right or wrong", but that we all contribute to misunderstandings. Feelings were also discussed and how important it is to know your own feelings, imagine the feelings of others, and to share how you are feeling. I loved that there were examples to illustrate the author's points. It made it much easier to visualize. The author gives great suggestions on how to turn conversations into "learning conversations" and wraps up the book by talking about how to put all this new information into action. I can see this book being helpful in my work and home life. I would definitely recommend this book if you are a parent, supervisor, or anyone striving to improve their communication skills.


Review posted September 21, 2017


I feel more comfortable about difficult conversations after reading this book. I feel more confident of my ability to engage in difficult conversations instead of avoiding it.


Review posted September 21, 2017


I found many of the concepts in this book similar to those in Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, but with more applicable examples. I appreciated examples from a variety of work settings as well as personal relationships. I read it with one real-life situation in mind, and I went into the conversation (which I had earlier been dreading) much more calm and prepared. I didn't understand the point of the reiterated table of contents at the end of the book - it was framed more like a checklist or a step-by-step plan, but it just repeated all the headings and subheadings in the book.


Review posted August 9, 2017


I think tools such as those presented in "Difficult Conversations" are valuable to anyone, regardless of your age, profession or even level of comfort with difficult conversations. For me, I found the material rational and reasonable. While a lot of it is fairly common sense, it is presented in a way that steps through the various obstacles and issues that may be present, in a clear-headed way. This is the type of book that I will re-visit periodically as a reminder and refresher to solidify my own skills in this area. In my opinion, certainly worth the time.

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Review posted July 7, 2017


This book helps you understand that not all conversations have one statement but instead have many. It will have you noticing how people communicate with you and how you communicate with others. This book is a easy read, and extremely helpful in improving communication and conversation skills.


Review posted July 3, 2017


I requested this book expecting something different. I'm not certain why, but I was anticipating a book about topics that are important, why we avoid them, and how to approach those topics. Instead, this book is more of a tutorial of how to discover what breaks communication down, and how to improve communication skills. This book should have made its way into my life sooner! however, I was able to reflect on some break-downs, and differences that resulted in loss of friendships. I am looking forward to not reliving past failed relationships, AND strengthening my current relationships through the approach presented in this book. My only qualm--and my reasoning for rating this a 4/5--was the "Map" which was really just a detailed table of contents and less of a map. I think that if this were updated into a flow chart it would be worthwhile. Finally, though the content should be common sense, it is worth the reflection it is sure to encourage.


Review posted May 29, 2017


I got this book to better communicate with my team but received it prior to the election cycle. I didn't learn a lot of new information but found the techniques and suggestions on how to consider both sides timely as I discussed political items with both party viewpoints. Not new info but reorganizing ideas that allows you more connections as you work through difficult topics with different people. Definitely worth a read.


Review posted May 2, 2017


I really liked the layout of this book and the tips in how to talk with others. Some of their examples I found a bit sexist and inappropriate at times.


Review posted April 13, 2017


This selection offers one of the most comprehensive approaches to difficult conversations that I've experienced. Unlike some other presentations, the flow of the content and recurring examples makes the material easy to digest. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this 5 cd set during my commute. Thanks


Review posted March 30, 2017


Very helpful read. Lays out strategies and tactics for successfully navigating uncomfortable and difficult conversations with grace and tact.


Review posted March 30, 2017


I am preparing to teach a communication class at a local community college and I found this book useful to implement in the curriculum


Review posted March 22, 2017


This was a good book with good ideas on how to have those difficult conversations with people.


Review posted March 2, 2017


This book complements the text I use to teach interpersonal communication skills; specifically how to focus on what is most important when engaged in discussion with others. The explanations and examples of communication were insightful and useful for my class.


Review posted February 14, 2017


I like this book. It came highly recommended to me and I will recommend it to anyone who has difficult conversations


Review posted January 4, 2017


I felt this book took very simple ideas and steps to lay out strategies and ways to process "difficult conversations". I disagreed with various ideas. The one that stood out was an example of a person being mugged and attempting to distinguish 'blame' from 'contributions'. I felt it theoretically makes sense but would easily lead to blaming a victim by saying they have certain 'contributions'. The other analogies and examples in the book were good. Overall, recommend to those wanting to practice better conversations.


Review posted December 13, 2016


I couldn't obtain all energy to complete this book -- there are more engaging books on this for communication tips.


Review posted October 13, 2016


Overall this is a good book to use when practicing conflict resolution and simply increasing abilities to remain engaged in conflict instead of defensive. I've added it to recommended reading for clients and families who may be seeking to reduce explosive conflicts and learn to "fight fair" to increase connections.


Review posted August 10, 2016


Great reminders about how to tackle challenges and stay objective when interacting with people both personally and professionally. I highly recommend this book. We used it in a book club so had many lively discussions and all took away different yet important points.


Review posted July 19, 2016


Definitely a great resource for starting the process. No one likes confrontations and the book provides some wonderful ideas for working collaboratively to solve an issue, inviting the other individual in to be a part of the solution, rather than just be blamed for the problem. Great tool for new managers!


Review posted July 8, 2016


Very fascinating points!


Review posted July 5, 2016


Really great information about why certain conversations are difficult and how to make them easier. I was able to use this information to approach my supervisor and the discussion resulted in a raise for me! Thank you so much for helping me learn how to have these tough discussions.


Review posted July 1, 2016


This book was simply ok, and not terribly engaging. If you've read and/or participated in any communication book, this one probably won't offer much new information. I preferred reading Marshall Rosenburg's Nonviolent Communication, or participating in Marcia McReynolds The Really Listening Project.


Review posted May 29, 2016


A good synopsis of various methods to keep focusing on difficult conversations, and the need and method to approach them. Good examples on a recurring theme.


Review posted May 18, 2016


This is an incredibly helpful book. I have it all tabbed and marked up for use over and over again as new situations arise.


Review posted April 28, 2016


This book highlighted helpful communication strategies to handle difficult conversations-there were useful tips on ways to look at and discuss the Three Conversations of any difficult conversation-and steps to take the lead in learning conversations. The Ten Questions section was also insightful with more ideas on dealing with difficult conversations.


Review posted April 22, 2016


Their essential message is ancient wisdom but completely lost in our times: The only behavior you can really change is your own. This has two corollaries: if you want to change someone else, your best strategy is to change yourself and if you want to convince someone of your position, you need to be as willing to be convinced of their position as you want them to be willing to be convinced of yours. And another piece of common sense that seems lost: You can’t assume that you have all the relevant information, that you know everything you need to know about an issue. It’s about understanding, not judging or blaming. They keep piling on these common sense pieces of advice and it makes one wonder - Have we really lost all that common sense wisdom or was it ever part of the common, everyday culture? Is the ancient wisdom the expression of only a few thinkers? Was the golden rule - “treat others as you wish to be treated” - ever the accepted standard for a society? Was the Christian message - “love your neighbor as yourself” - ever the prevailing paradigm in a culture? If the answer to these questions is negative, then how much hope can there be for the revelations in Difficult Conversations? But what else is there to do? We each can change only our own behavior. The changes advocated in this book make sense and so we should incorporate them into our life. And hopefully that will influence others around us. But I wouldn’t have a lot of hope.


Review posted April 20, 2016


Great information! This was not a can't put it down book but certainly one that you could read and reread and still continue to glean new bits of information and insights from.


Review posted April 10, 2016


This book came highly recommended by a professional mediator at a training that I attended. I am looking forward to putting it to practice in my work!


Review posted April 8, 2016


This book was timely for me,but we are always having difficult conversations as a part of life. Good book, and I appreciate the choice of formats.


Review posted April 2, 2016


A very interesting read that offers pragmatic approaches to handling difficult discussions, either in personal or professional relationships. It classifies conversations into three specific categories (the "what happened conversation, the emotional conversation, and the identity conversation) for the purpose of reaching the ideal outcome of the conversation interaction: understanding and acceptance of one's point of view. An important book for developing communication and human relations skills.

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Review posted March 30, 2016


This book had some valuable information and many examples of difficult conversations. It explained different issues that affect us going into a conversation and how we can reframe our words to effectively communicate with other people. A lot of the methods will require significant practice to be truly effective, so I am glad to have it as a reference book in the years to come.


Review posted March 27, 2016


Great insight on how to have difficult and healthy conversations with people.


Review posted February 22, 2016


Really enjoyed this read!


Review posted January 23, 2016


Many of us avoid difficult conversations but workplaces and relationships suffer when we don't talk about what really matters. This book serves as a guide to developing skills to take on the hard topics in a way that honors all involved.

Margaret Tomlinson

Review posted January 3, 2016


This book is clear and easy to understand, and its guidance on how to approach conversations involving interpersonal conflicts is extremely useful. Conflict can result not just from people being in disagreement about their goals, but also from conversational style. There's enough conflict in the world over goals - why exacerbate it with conversational styles that increase the conflict? "Difficult Conversations" breaks down the sources of conflict in conversation to three basic problems: (1) arguing about who's right and who's wrong, (2) failing to acknowledge feelings, and (3) subconsciously getting stuck in defending one's identity. Then it shows how to substitute healthy conversational approaches for each of these potential pitfalls. After spending time with this book, I feel much more confident when going into conversations with the potential for conflict. This is a book I will keep handy and continue to consult.

Sandy Braden

Review posted December 14, 2015


Having these discussions with either subordinate or superior staff is difficult and challenging at best. The information learned from this book, when put into practice, will greatly assist in developing even better communication skills.

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Review posted November 18, 2015


Good do home and in the community.


Review posted November 2, 2015


This is the book that I have been searching for. Simple, concise, full of concrete examples. Applicable in work, volunteer work and home.


Review posted October 26, 2015


This book was very helpful in addressing some things that could not be ignored. I have used what I learned here in both my professional and personal life. The book is laid out very well.


Review posted October 20, 2015


Good book on CD, accidentally ordered twice. I have given it away to a colleague.


Review posted October 7, 2015


Pretty good but a little redundant


Review posted September 21, 2015


This was a helpful book but not the most effective I have ever read. I just finished "Be Quiet, Be Heard" and felt like I got more out of that one, but still a good book, I would say overall worth the time.


Review posted September 3, 2015


While a lot of content in "Difficult Conversations" is intuitive. I found several helpful ideas for confronting difficult situations in a constructive and open ended manner. I think the book challenges the reader to engage in a lot of personal reflection. Overall, I'd recommend it to my colleagues.

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Review posted August 26, 2015


Mostly good information. It's a little repetitive, could probably have been condensed without losing effect.


Review posted July 22, 2015


There is help for me...it's this book! It includes very practical information, including scenarios and examples I could relate to. I recommend it for anyone who needs help finding their voice.


Review posted July 10, 2015


Even though some of the tips may sound a little cheesy, I think this is a good book for everyone to read. I noticed a lot of the negative traps I fall into and I want to try some of the new tips suggested in the book.


Review posted July 6, 2015


I liked the detail in the book, and found it helpful.


Review posted June 29, 2015


"Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" is one of the best books on turning situations into positive interactions I have read. It is applicable all areas of one's life, not just the work place. It gave me new perspectives in dealing with people and situations I had not considered prior to reading this book. As I was reading it, I was preparing to have several "difficult conversations" at work and in my personal life. The ideas shared here gave me pause and helped me rethink how to approach the situations. Learning to see and hear things from other points of view is an acquired skill which I am cultivating. I highly recommend this book for managers of any business in addition to those seeking to improve communications in any area of their life.


Review posted May 4, 2015


Great book and easy to read. Really has many tips for talking about different subjects that are emotionally charged or tense.


Review posted April 15, 2015


I thought the reading of this book on CD was forced. I didn't like listening to so many voices, I think I would have preferred reading this book. The information was great, it was just the formatting that I didn't enjoy.


Review posted April 14, 2015


Excellent book on communication, for personal and professional life. It provides powerful tools for life.


Review posted April 11, 2015


I have had many difficult conversations in my life, and consider myself quite adept at handling them, but they've always felt strained and left me feeling unsettled. 'Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most' provides a deeper understanding and clarity to the 'undercurrents' in difficult conversations, and has helped me not only understand what's not being said, but sorting out my own feelings about those conversations in the process. It's clean, concise and an easy read. I highly recommend this book.


Review posted April 3, 2015


This book helped me dissect relationships through conversation, and gave me both the courage and concrete strategies to initiate important conversations that I needed to have, in my professional and personal lives. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who tends to avoid talking about hard situations. Bringing emotion/feelings into a discussion, even in a professional setting, can be tricky, but it is really worth it!

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Review posted March 25, 2015


This would probably be better in person or reading the book. Good info but hard to follow on cd.

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Review posted March 17, 2015


How did I get this far without this book? Now that I have read, "Difficult Conversations" I have a totally new perspective on how to engage with those I usually avoid. This book could not have come to me at a better time, I had reached my end and thought there was no solutions and because of this book, I now know there is a world of "learning conversations." I can not say enough about how useful this book is, if you want to have more effective conversations in every relationship.


Review posted February 23, 2015


Difficult conversations are usually ones that have fear attached. Either fear of the outcome or Fear of being misunderstood, etc. This book explores the ways to be heard by listening carefully. They give helpful examples for different situations, whether it is a conversation at home, work, neighbors, or family and friends. How to navigate landminds of emotions that difficult conversations may bring. Helpful book. Hope to be able to use some.


Review posted February 11, 2015


This is a must read/listen to book/CD for everyone dealing with people and wanting to improve their ability to communicate. Great knowledge is shared in this material. Take the time to read/listen to...you'll be better of for it!