From the Harvard Negotiation Project—which brought you the megabestseller GETTING TO YES—this practical guide will help you handle your most difficult conversations with confidence and skill
Whether dealing with an underperforming employee or a challenging colleague, disagreeing with your spouse about money or child-rearing, negotiating with a client, or simply saying "No," "I'm sorry," or "I love you," we attempt or avoid difficult conversations every day. No matter how competent we are, we all have conversations that cause anxiety and frustration.
This book can help. Based on almost thirty years of research, Difficult Conversations walks you through a step-by-step approach for how to have your toughest conversations with less stress and more success. You'll learn how to:
• Decipher the underlying structure and challenge of every difficult conversation • Raise tough issues without triggering defensiveness • Manage strong emotions—yours and theirs • Keep your balance no matter how the other person responds • Get to the heart of the matter in ways that promote learning and build relationships
Filled with examples from everyday life, this third edition is thoroughly updated and addresses issues such as race, culture, gender, power, social media, and communicating via technology as we talk to one another across the world—and across worldviews. With constructive communication an ever more critical need in personal, professional, and public life, Difficult Conversations is a classic you will turn to again and again for powerful, practical advice.
About the Author
Douglas Stone is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School and a founder of Triad Consulting Group (www.triadconsultinggroup.com). He has worked with a wide range of organizations, corporations, and non-profits, and lectured at Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Pixar. Stone has worked with journalists, educators, doctors, diplomats, and political leaders in South Africa, Kashmir, and the Middle East, and in Geneva with the World Health Organization and UN-AIDS. He has trained senior political appointees at the White House and leaders at the U.S. Departments of Justice and State, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. His articles have appeared in many publications including the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, and Real Simple. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where for many years he served as Associate Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project. He is coauthor along with Sheila Heen of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Even When It Is Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood) (Viking, 2014). He can be reached at email@example.com.
Bruce Patton is Cofounder and Distinguished Fellow of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP) and a founder and partner emeritus of Vantage Partners, LLC (www.vantagepartners.com), where his clients included many of the world’s largest corporations. Working with Roger Fisher, Patton pioneered the teaching of negotiation at Harvard Law School, where he has taught since 1981. In the public arena he helped to structure the resolution of the 1980 U.S.-Iranian hostage conflict (working at the behest of both governments); worked with Nobel Prize winner Oscar Arias to make his Central American Peace Plan self-implementing; worked with all parties in South Africa to structure and train mediators for the constitutional process that ended apartheid; and works today to build a strong, functional, and representative Congress and a resilient America as part of the Rebuild Congress Initiative (sponsored by HNP and Issue One). A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Patton is coauthor with Roger Fisher and William Ury of the perennially bestselling Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (Penguin, 1981, 1991, 2011).He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheila Heen is the Thaddeus R. Beal Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, a Deputy Director of the Harvard Negotiation Project, and a founder of Triad Consulting Group (triadconsultinggroup.com). Heen often works with executive teams to engage conflict productively, repair working relationships, and implement change in complex organizations. She has consulted to the New England Organ Bank, the Singapore Supreme Court, Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation in Barrow, Alaska, and theologians struggling with disagreement over the nature of truth and God. Heen has published articles in The New York Times and the Harvard Business Review and appeared on Oprah, CNBC's Power Lunch, NPR, the Tim Ferris Show, and Shane Parrish's The Knowledge Project. She is coauthor along with Douglas Stone of the New York Times bestseller Thanks for the Feedback. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she is schooled in negotiation daily by her three children. She can be reached at email@example.com.
“Does this book deliver on its promise of an effective way through sticky situations, whether ‘with your babysitter or your biggest client’? It does.” —The New York Times
“These talented communicators blend a daunting array of disciplines into highly readable and practical advice.” —Booklist
“I’m on my third reading. Half the pages are dog-eared. This is a mind-bogglingly powerful book. For life.” —Tom Peters
“A user-friendly guide to mastering the talks we dread . . . a keeper.” —Fast Company
“Emotional intelligence applied to life’s toughest moments.” —Daniel Goleman, bestselling author of Working with Emotional Intelligence
“The only people who shouldn’t read Difficult Conversations are those who never work with people, anywhere.” —Peter M. Senge, bestselling author of The Fifth Discipline
“How do you confront your ex-spouse who’s late picking up the kids? How do you tell a client their project took longer than expected and the bill is twice as high? How do you say ‘I’m sorry’? Start by picking up Difficult Conversations.” —Citizen
“Difficult Conversations will be appreciated by readers who wish to improve oral communication in all aspects of their daily lives.” —Library Journal
“Stone, Patton, and Heen illustrate their points with anecdotes, scripted conversations and familiar examples in a clear, easy-to-browse format.” —Publishers Weekly
“The central insights of Difficult Conversations so resonate with common sense that it is easy to overlook just how remarkable of a book it is . . . a must-read.” —Harvard Negotiation Law Review
“Examples more clear-headed and advice more precise than we’ve seen before.” —Dallas Morning News
“Stone, Patton, and Heen have written an extremely clear and unpretentious exposition of how to develop effective communication skills and a guide to achieving openness and constructive outcomes in dialogue . . . this book is, and probably for some time to come will be definitive.” —Southern Communication Journal