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Difficult Conversations Hardcover – Mar 30 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking USA (March 30 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670883395
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670883394
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #529,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
Jack is about to have a difficult conversation. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Jones Neighbors on March 8 2002
Format: Paperback
When I first picked up this book, I wasn't very optimistic about its content. I've got a rather solid background in conflict resolution and communication, have even taught courses in listening and small group communication. I assumed the book would be more of the same -- here's where you should nod, here's how you reflect, etc.
I was pleased to find that I had misjudged the authors. Reading this book and truly incorporating its advice and philosophies can be a life-changing experience. The content here goes beyond technique and finds firm ground (surprisingly) in speaking about inner issues that arise during difficult conversations -- and it manages to do so without coming off as didactic or flakey. In fact, I would have to say that this is the first "self-help" book that didn't make me a little squirmy and rebellious -- I soaked up the information and found myself relying on the content in real life on a daily basis, and right away.
I also have found myself evangelizing the book to a great extent, and have recommended it to friends I know who are having difficulty with family members, bosses, their children their neighbors -- as well as to a number of my clients who have expressed difficulty in managing up and/or down.
There's something of value for just about anyone here -- even if you are already well-versed in communication and negotiation skills.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14 2004
Format: Paperback
I find this book to be helpful because I have had a life-long struggle with difficult conversations. The section about understanding what is said and unsaid is a key piece of information which has given me greater awareness. The procedures require commitment and practice. Don't expect to get it right the first time or every time. I put an extra piece of information into practice every few days. I would also recommend another book, Crucial Conversations for another perspective on emotionally charged conversations, and Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self to learn how to make the most of any situation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BelleH on July 8 2012
Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent read for first time people managers! It helped me to understand how to approach situations and different types of people. There are times when managers too need help and this book gives great tips, ideas, guidelines and a step by step process you can follow.

I would read this non-stop before preformance reviews and before intense coaching sesssions, gave me the tools I needed to enable me to be sucessful in my new roles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18 1999
Format: Hardcover
Very disappointing, thin material presented in double space format and large type to bulk up a thinly veiled version of family therapy technique. The chapter on Listening is particularly facile and lacking any rigor or new ideas apart from bashing active listening. Urging the importance of "authenticity" is pricelessly ironic from our lawyer authors. I was hoping for some new ideas but was presented with the pablum of family therapy techniques watered down for the masses. Forget this book despite the heavy duty PR blurb on the covers extolling its virtues.
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Format: Paperback
Difficult conversations is not just a book, it's a powerful tool for changing the course of the conversations that matter the most. The only danger you'll face in reading this book is the danger of failing to make use of the life-enhancing concepts that fill each page. For example, the principle of shifting from assigning blame to discussing various "contributions" to problem situations has helped me personally to defuse upset emotions and get a conversation back on track.
Congratulations to these fine scholars and practitioners for a timeless contribution.
Joseph Grenny, co-author Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By quackhead on May 14 2004
Format: Paperback
Having researched numerous books on this subject, I found this to be one of the best. The book is structured well: the introduction gives an apt overview, the writing is simple and to the point, with excellent examples and an outline provided to assist with a final review.
One of the book's strongest points is its focus on the underlying problems that create situations where conversation becomes difficult. The temptation to digress and meander into a quagmire of various psychological/environmental/biological explainations can be great, but the writers stays the course, using only pertinent examples and explainations, keeping the book fairly short and to the point.
Many works of this genre focus on superficial fixes. Some of those do work, particularly for short term situations. However, the topics covered in this book go a little below that superficial surface, often seriously questioning common behaviors that often contribute and prolong difficult conversations/situations.
A caveat: the recommended techniques hold great promise, but using them requires quite a bit of work. Unlike the many fixes from other sources, there are no promises of immediate success. Instead, there may be many obstacles both from the self and from others that will come up.
However, perserverance does seem to pay off. I work at a large law firm and the perpectives and solutions offered in this work has made my work easier and more productive.
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