Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Douglas F. Stone, Author, Sheila Heen, Joint Author, Bruce Patton, Joint Author
Douglas F. Stone, Author, Sheila Heen, Joint Author, Bruce Patton, Joint Author Viking Books $24.95 (250p) ISBN 978-0-670-88339-4
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Compact Disc - 5 pages - 978-0-553-45612-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52568-7
Paperback - 250 pages - 978-0-14-028852-0
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-7865-1817-3
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Bringing together the insights of such diverse disciplines as law, organizational behavior, cognitive, family and social psychology and ""dialogue"" studies, Stone, Patton and Heen, who teach at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Negotiation Project, illustrate how to handle the challenges involved in effectively resolving ""difficult conversations,"" whether in an interpersonal, business or political context. While many of their points are simplistic--don't ignore your feelings, consider the other person's intentions, take a break from the situation--they're often overlooked in stressful moments. Most useful are the strategies for disarming the impulse to lay blame and for exploring one's own contribution to a tense situation. Also of value are specific recommendations for bringing emotions directly into a difficult discussion by talking about them and paying attention to the way they can subtly inform judgments and accusations. If these recommendations aren't followed, the authors contend, emotions will seep into the discussion in other, usually damaging, ways. Stone, Patton and Heen illustrate their points with anecdotes, scripted conversations and familiar examples in a clear, easy-to-browse format. While ""difficult conversations"" may not have the intrinsic appeal of the Harvard Negotiation Project's previous bestseller, Getting to Yes, this book is a cogent resource for those who see the sense in preparing for tough talks in advance. Agent, Esther Newberg. Ad/promo; author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Patton is the co-author of Getting to Yes.
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