Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most Essay

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Brief Description of Essential Information Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, of the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP), wrote the book, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. Viking Press originally published the 234-page book in 1999. This self-help book, ISBN 0-670-88339-5, is available for purchase on Amazon for $24.95. Introduction Communication skills are important in professional negotiations and in personal life. This book discusses why we find some dialogue difficult, why we avoid it, and why we often address it ineffectively. Most important, the authors suggest methods for more effective, productive, and rewarding, interaction. Thesis The thesis, or the main idea of the book, is that…show more content…
They point out that assumptions are based on our own feelings. For example, if we feel hurt, then the other person must have meant to hurt us. Furthermore, we should acknowledge the hurt feelings of the other, even if this was not our intent. The final component of the “what happened” conversation is the problem with the assignment of blame, which inhibits the ability to learn about the cause of the problem or to collaborate to fix it. The authors remind us that “…blame is about judging and contribution is about understanding (p. 59).” Attention should be focused on examining each person’s contribution to the problem with a goal of understanding cause and avoiding future problems. An effective “what happened” conversation illuminates the fact that the situation is more complex than either party’s original perception. Next, the authors discuss the importance of having a “feelings” conversation. Although emotions frequently drive difficult conversations, people often ignore them. However, unaddressed feelings generally re-emerge to impair understanding, hinder listening, and damage relationships. Although feelings do not always make sense, they still exist and require acceptance, so that both parties can feel understood. The third conversation is one that we have with ourselves about what this situation means about our personal identity. We may question our competence, goodness, or

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