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

eomcdirector

Review posted October 15, 2019

5

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.

ricpts

Review posted October 14, 2019

4

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.

daisymaeault

Review posted October 10, 2019

5

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

madsenl

Review posted August 27, 2019

4

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.

kindallb

Review posted August 12, 2019

5

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

gj7mlk30JM21

Review posted August 11, 2019

3

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

5

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

dstack

Review posted July 29, 2019

5

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.

afleming

Review posted July 24, 2019

4

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

KBurnham

Review posted June 5, 2019

5

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.

shannonl

Review posted June 4, 2019

4

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

EMConnor

Review posted June 3, 2019

5

Extremely helpful and well written!

JennLanders

Review posted May 22, 2019

5

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.

[email protected]

Review posted May 17, 2019

5

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.

[email protected]

Review posted May 7, 2019

2

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.

kck.hankins3

Review posted April 2, 2019

3

Great book

[email protected]

Review posted February 13, 2019

5

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

timhutton

Review posted January 28, 2019

4

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.

Loriann848

Review posted January 17, 2019

4

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

egronert

Review posted January 14, 2019

5

Very helpful book!

dtague

Review posted January 9, 2019

3

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.

LeslieG0122

Review posted January 2, 2019

4

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!!

angelascott108

Review posted December 23, 2018

5

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

Egiudice

Review posted December 9, 2018

4

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.

anakarenina

Review posted November 13, 2018

5

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.

Knowtorius

Review posted September 14, 2018

3

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

Hazel

Review posted September 5, 2018

4

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.

AndreaM

Review posted August 29, 2018

4

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

Toddpetrie

Review posted June 18, 2018

4

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

dougsannes

Review posted June 3, 2018

5

Great everyday suggestions. Good read.

LadyKit

Review posted June 1, 2018

5

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.

Gerilyn

Review posted May 23, 2018

4

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

kcbolton

Review posted March 2, 2018

4

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.

KatyEugene

Review posted February 19, 2018

5

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

cookie529

Review posted February 11, 2018

5

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

jamiesmith

Review posted November 30, 2017

3

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!

Oshu21707

Review posted November 3, 2017

4

Looking forward to having this book as a resource.

[email protected]

Review posted November 2, 2017

4

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.

mzhao

Review posted September 21, 2017

5

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.

kregerl

Review posted September 21, 2017

5

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.

jreed2000

Review posted August 9, 2017

4

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.

[email protected]

Review posted July 7, 2017

5

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.

d.juarez

Review posted July 3, 2017

4

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.

jlazys

Review posted May 29, 2017

5

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.

arbusch

Review posted May 2, 2017

4

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.

SHSmj64

Review posted April 13, 2017

5

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

mhouse

Review posted March 30, 2017

4

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

marie

Review posted March 30, 2017

3

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

danielangela

Review posted March 22, 2017

5

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

tmccammon16

Review posted March 2, 2017

4

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.

SFoxx968

Review posted February 14, 2017

5

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

Gleggett

Review posted January 4, 2017

4

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.

sheco

Review posted December 13, 2016

3

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

dustiny10

Review posted October 13, 2016

4

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.

szuercher

Review posted August 10, 2016

4

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.

jeshorb

Review posted July 19, 2016

4

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!

clalatorre

Review posted July 8, 2016

5

Very fascinating points!

heatherg

Review posted July 5, 2016

5

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.

ERRFanjoy

Review posted July 1, 2016

1

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.

DMcCall

Review posted May 29, 2016

4

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.

Misbooks

Review posted May 18, 2016

5

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

kwhitso

Review posted April 28, 2016

4

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.

Sutkus

Review posted April 22, 2016

5

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.

emanderson

Review posted April 20, 2016

4

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.

KPelissier

Review posted April 10, 2016

4

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!

mcribbins

Review posted April 8, 2016

5

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.

Sebastian

Review posted April 2, 2016

4

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.

[email protected]

Review posted March 30, 2016

4

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.

jamiemckay

Review posted March 27, 2016

5

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

mandy.stanley

Review posted February 22, 2016

5

Really enjoyed this read!

ktorry

Review posted January 23, 2016

4

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

5

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

4

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.

[email protected]

Review posted November 18, 2015

4

Good do home and in the community.

Browncoat

Review posted November 2, 2015

5

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

RoseRobin

Review posted October 26, 2015

4

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.

Jstuedli

Review posted October 20, 2015

3

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

bngbrookie

Review posted October 7, 2015

4

Pretty good but a little redundant

saintchild

Review posted September 21, 2015

3

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.

ckamiya

Review posted September 3, 2015

4

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.

[email protected]

Review posted August 26, 2015

3

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

perrindamon

Review posted July 22, 2015

5

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.

sasheelar

Review posted July 10, 2015

3

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.

AmyLewis

Review posted July 6, 2015

4

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

Ddsleadership

Review posted June 29, 2015

5

"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.

embbear

Review posted May 4, 2015

5

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

Naomir

Review posted April 15, 2015

3

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.

renmull

Review posted April 14, 2015

5

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

artemiia

Review posted April 11, 2015

5

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.

erinteresa

Review posted April 3, 2015

5

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!

[email protected]

Review posted March 25, 2015

2

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

[email protected]

Review posted March 17, 2015

5

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.

SallyD

Review posted February 23, 2015

4

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.

ronmargie

Review posted February 11, 2015

4

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!