Difficult Conversations | Learning | For Couples | Better Marriages | Educating Couples - Building Relationships

Difficult Conversations

difficult conversationsDifficult Conversations

by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen, Penguin Publishers, 2000

Reviewed by Terry Heinlein, GA,  Board of Directors

Difficult conversations are those conversations that make you anxious, the ones that you dread or aren’t sure whether to even attempt. Inevitably, such conversations are emotionally charged, threatening to one or both partners and have the potential, if not handled successfully, to negatively impact our self-esteem, the relationship involved, or often, both. The authors of Difficult Conversations present tools and a clear roadmap for helping to navigate the bumpy roads associated with these challenging conversations.

In a humorous style and providing plenty of easy-to-relate-to examples, the authors point out why these conversations quickly go from bad to worse.

The book’s main idea is this: In every conversation there are three simultaneous conversations going on: * The “what happened?” conversation about the factual matters at hand;  * The “feelings conversation” concerning how we feel about this; and * The  “identity  conversation”  where  we  assert  and  redefine our  identity. Ignoring  any  of  these  means  that  you’re  not  addressing  what’s  really  going  on  in  the conversation,  because all  of  these  WILL  be going  on. The  book  focuses on  the  above conversations  and  helps  to  recognize  and  deal  with  each.

There is a checklist and road map at the end of the book that makes a great place to review after you have read the book.

While the book was written as a tool for anyone dealing with difficult conversations, such as with their boss, a friend or even kids, it was also written for couples and I have found it to be one of the best communication books available for couples.

Note to Marriage Enrichment Leaders: Roberta and I are planning to build a workshop around the book. You may want to consider doing the same.