The authors are team members of the Harvard Negotiation Project, here building on the Project’s work begun with the best-seller Getting to Yes. This secular resource walks through the importance of and the strategies for initiating and managing difficult conversations. The book offers helpful modes of dialogue and negotiation in all human endeavors. A ‘difficult conversation’ is defined as anything one finds hard to talk about. These all-too-human experiences are broken down into 3 categories and several manageable steps to separate facts from feelings and move toward a stance of learning. The second edition includes the authors’ responses to the 10 most frequently asked questions about the topic, including how to deal with difficult people, how to manage difficult conversations via phone or email, and how to move beyond either/or thinking. Congregational leaders, particularly staff and board members, will benefit from this frank and practical resource on how to address difficulties and disagreements before they escalate into unmanageable conflicts.
Reviewed by Wendy McCormick