Mastering Those Sensitive Conversations

I am currently spending a few quiet days in the office preparing material for an upcoming four-day leadership development retreat for a group of senior managers. One of the important issues I suggested we delve into is that of managing sensitive conversations; it is a topic crucial not only for leaders but for anyone who wishes to become more resilient and have relationships that actually work.

Have you recently had a conversation that you were not looking forward to having? Was it at home or at work? Was your stomach turning just at the thought of having to deal with the issues? Did you perhaps avoid it altogether? If you had the conversation, how well did it go?

Well, we all have these conversations and regardless of our age of maturity, my work (and, frankly, my own life!) has taught me that much of the time, we don’t do a great job at managing them.

So here’s a book I am thrilled to recommend on this topic. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. Its name is “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” (by D. Stone, B. Patton & S. Heen of the Harvard Negotiation Project, ISBN 0-14-028852-X). It is an absolutely brilliant, page-turning, step by step analysis of the complexities involved in any type of sensitive conversation, along with a map for successfully navigating such conversations. Enjoy!

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