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Book Notes : Difficult Conversations

This post is part of my book notes and summary series, a set of notes I make on my read books to help me recall and remember points I find most useful.

This book is Difficult Conversations : How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Dougless Stone, Bruce Patton and Shiela Heen

Book Summary

Whether you need a raise, end a relationship, or provide constructive feedback, we all need help with how best to structure our difficult conversations to be productive and achieve the right outcome for both parties. This book breaks down the different techniques you can use to ensure you’re not being too defensive – and get a balanced view when you have your next conversation.

How this book changed me?

This book has helped me realise that its important to structure conversations in an impartial way (which may be nothing new), building in the right questions to understand each parties contribution to the problem being discussed, slowing down to listen and ask the right questions.

Should you read this book?

This book was what I would call “dense” – a huge amount of detail and a lot of examples to get through. In all honesty – this made the book quite difficult to get through and without clear summaries, sometimes hard to retain the information, when in reality this book should have been much easier to read and digest.

If you’re looking at getting the most from this book – I’d suggest reading it on something like Blinkist, Headway or Audible – or at least starting with a book summary first before launching in to the book to give you a good foundation on the structure.

Top Quotes

difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values.

Remember, understanding the other person’s story doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, nor does it require you to give up your own.

Taking responsibility for your contribution up front prevents the other person from using it as a shield to avoid a discussion of their own contribution.

You can’t move the conversation in a more positive direction until the other person feels heard and understood.

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