I listened to Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone et al. on audio about five years ago, and I listened again recently. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: everyone who communicates with human beings needs to read/listen to this book. I mean, how often do you get a chance to find out about human interactions from a bunch of Harvard researchers?
If you've ever had a simple conversation go awry or if you've ever had a confrontation get out of control, this book will likely end up being a great resource for you. Douglas Stone and the other brainy Harvard authors take motivations, emotions and identity out and dissect them for a better understanding of why people act and react the way they do in difficult conversations, both at work and at home. This book will help with professional interactions, with bringing up tough issues with your spouse or partner and even with friends and kids.
For me, the most useful parts of this book were:
- focusing on the "and" stance: replacing "but" with "and," and acknowledging that two things can be true simultaneously
- contribution versus blame: admitting your own contributions to a situation and asking for others' contributions, exclusive of blame
- starting from the third conversation: approaching a situation from a neutral, curious stance rather than from one's own point of view
- focusing on going into conversations from a questioning stance and sincere desire to understand the other party rather than proving one's own point of view
Many of the techniques Doug Stone et al. recommend are rather advanced--they won't come easily or feel natural the first time. However, trying one or two new things in low-risk situations (with your kids, for example, versus with your boss) is a pretty easy way to give their suggestions a try.
Has anyone else tried these? What were your results?