![rw-book-cover](https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/7109ODXku5L._SY160.jpg) ## Metadata - Author: [[Bruce Patton]], [[Douglas Stone]], and [[Sheila Heen]] - Full Title: Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most - Category: #books - Topics: [[Management (Index)]], [[Relationships (Index)]], [[Mediation]], [[Communication]] ## Summary A **difficult conversation** is anything you find hard to talk about, usually because you're afraid of the consequences. This book offers guidance on how to think about such conversations and how to handle them effectively. It is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project. ### Structure To handle difficult conversations well, it's helpful to break it down into **three underlying conversations (or categories)**: - **1. The "What Happened" Conversation**: This is about what happened or what should happen. - See the section on "common pitfalls" further below. - **2. The Feelings Conversation**: This is about acknowledging and validating the feelings of everyone involved. Feelings are often avoided and ignored, but they're at the heart of difficult conversations. - We tend to avoid talking about feelings, but it's often only at this level that the problem can be addressed. - Unexpressed feelings usually impact the conversation negatively. For example, they express themselves through body language, and they make it hard to be open and curious towards the other person. - As a first step, get clear on what your feelings are. Reflect on how they might be related to any observations, thoughts, or needs. - Then, share your feelings with the other person. Do this carefully, without evaluating or judging. - **3. The Identity Conversation**: This is about what the situation means to everyone involved; about who we are and how we see ourselves. Understand the identity issues at play for both you and the other person. - Identity is about our sense of who we are; the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. - Difficult conversations threaten our identity, in particular, our sense of competence, goodness, and worthiness. This can be very disturbing. - "All-or-nothing thinking" makes your identity particularly vulnerable: You're either competent or incompetent, for example. - As a first step, become aware of any aspect of your identity that feels at risk. - Then, "complexify" your identity. Recognize that this aspect isn't actually at stake, or at least, not as much as you'd intuitively think. - It's helpful to accept that you will make mistakes, that your intentions are complex, and that you have contributed to the problem. ### Stance Shift from a "**message delivery stance**" to a "**learning stance**." Instead of trying to persuade them of your story, aim to understand what has happened from both people's perspective, how it impacted them, and how to move forward. To adopt a learning stance, **avoid the following common pitfalls**: - **The Truth Assumption**: In a difficult conversation, both parties usually assume that they know what's true, and that they're right and the other person is wrong. This assumption causes a lot of trouble, and it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. However, difficult conversations are almost never about facts (i.e., what's true), but about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values (i.e., what's important). - **Instead, explore each other's stories**: - Start by acknowledging that there are two different stories. This is the result of different people taking in different information about a given situation (i.e., having different observations) and then interpreting it in their unique ways (based on their needs, prior experience and knowledge, etc.). - To understand the other person's story, shift from certainty to curiosity. Try to understand the other person's story well enough so that their conclusions make sense within it. - Adopt an "And Stance," in which you don't have to choose between the stories, but can embrace both. - **The Intention Invention**: Another critical but erroneous assumption we make is that we know the other person's intentions, i.e., the motives that drive their behavior. Worse still, in a difficult conversation, we tend to assume bad intentions based on their impact on us. In reality, we don't have access to other people's intentions; they're invisible to us. We only have access to their behavior. - **Instead, separate intent from impact:** - Gain clarity about the situation by distinguishing between: - **Actions**: What did person A do? I.e., what observations does person B have? - **Impact**: What was the impact on person B? I.e., what feelings did the actions trigger in person B and what needs were affected? - **Assumptions**: Based on this impact, what assumption is person B making about what person A intended? I.e., what judgments does person B have about person A? - When you're the one who got hurt: Share the impact on you and inquire about their intentions (holding your assumptions as a hypothesis). - When you're the one who stimulated hurt in the other: Listen beyond judgments for feelings and needs, i.e., the impact of your actions on the other person. - **The Blame Frame**: In a difficult conversation, we tend to look for someone to blame for the situation we're in. This focus on finding fault is similarly unproductive as the one about finding truth mentioned above. It gets in the way of learning what's really causing the problem and how to solve it. - **Instead, map the contribution system:** - A contribution system includes inputs from everyone involved. It is joint and interactive. - Ask yourself how each person contributed to the situation, and what they can do about it moving forward. - Some overlooked ways of contributing include: avoiding the problem, being unapproachable, and interpersonal differences (in background, preferences, assumptions). - Take responsibility for your contribution. - Help them understand their contribution and share what you'd like them to do differently. ### Process Here's a template for how to approach a difficult conversation step-by-step: - **Step 1: Preparation**: Walk through the Three conversations to better understand where you're at. - What happened? Consider the actions, intentions, impact, and contributions of both people. - What feelings do you experience? - What identity issues are alive? - **Step 2: Purpose**: Before you start a difficult conversation, understand what your purpose is in doing so. - What do you hope to accomplish? - A useful purpose is to work for mutual understanding of each other's views, feelings, and identity issues. - Is a conversation the best way to achieve your purpose? - **Step 3: Opening**: Start the conversation in a productive way. - **Begin from the Third Story**, which is a story that an impartial observer might tell about the situation. The Third Story describes the problem in a way that resonates with both parties simultaneously. It can be helpful to focus on the "gap" or difference between stories of the two people. - For example, you might say: "My sense is that you and I are seeing this situation differently." - **Extend an invitation** to the other person by stating your purpose and inviting them to join you in a conversation. - For example, you might say: "I'd like to better understand how you're seeing it and to express how I'm seeing it." - **Step 4: Explore their story and yours** - **Listen to the other person's story**: - Authenticity is key. Listening is only powerful if you're truly curious and caring about the other person and their perspective. - Assume that you don't yet understand the other person's perspective. Let them help you understand. - If the other person doesn't seem to listen to you, it's often because they don't feel heard. If you can, start by listening to them, and trust that they'll reciprocate afterward. - Ask questions about the Three Conversations. Paraphrase what you hear them saying to ensure you've got it. Acknowledge their expression — especially the importance of their feelings. - Empathic listening involves imagining what it's like to see and experience the situation from their perspective, with their unique set of experiences and background. - **Express yourself and share your story**: - Failure to express yourself keeps you out of the relationship. - Express your side of the story — your observations, feelings, and needs. Help them understand what's important to you about this and how you've come to your current place. - Check whether you've shared what's at the heart of the matter for you. - Share your story as *your story*, not as the truth. - Speak from your perspective and use "I" statements rather than making absolute declarations. - Stay on your side of the net — don't venture into guessing their intentions. - **Step 5: Problem-solving** - Continuously reframe and translate what you and the other person are saying into concepts that are useful — in particular, concepts from the Three Conversations: From truth to different stories, from blame to contribution, etc. - Create options that meet both side's primary needs and interests. - Look for objective standards and principles to guide a resolution. - Agree on ongoing communication moving forward. ## ChatGPT summary I asked ChatGPT to summarize this book using my own summary above as well as external sources on the web as input. Here's the result: "Difficult Conversations" is a book that tackles the complex nature of challenging interactions, drawing on the expertise of the Harvard Negotiation Project. This guide provides a structured approach to understanding and navigating conversations that are often fraught with emotional and identity-related complexities. The book emphasizes the importance of adopting a learning stance over a message-delivery stance, underscoring the value of understanding and exploring differing perspectives rather than persuading or imposing one's view. ### Key Concepts and Structure 1. **Three Underlying Conversations**: - **The "What Happened" Conversation**: Focuses on events and expectations. It requires avoiding common pitfalls such as assuming a singular truth and instead embracing different perceptions and interpretations. - **The Feelings Conversation**: Centers on acknowledging and expressing feelings. This involves recognizing how unexpressed emotions can negatively impact dialogue and learning to share feelings without judgment. - **The Identity Conversation**: Deals with how the conversation affects one's sense of self. It involves understanding the threats to identity and adopting a more nuanced view of oneself to mitigate these threats. 2. **Avoiding Common Pitfalls**: - **The Truth Assumption**: Challenges the belief in a single truth, advocating for recognizing and exploring different stories and perspectives. - **The Intention Invention**: Warns against assuming others' intentions, suggesting a focus on separating intent from impact and understanding the other's actions and their consequences. - **The Blame Frame**: Encourages moving away from blame towards understanding the contribution system, where each party's input to the situation is recognized and addressed. ### Process for Handling Difficult Conversations 1. **Preparation**: Involves reflecting on the three conversations to understand one's position and feelings. 2. **Purpose**: Establishes the goal of the conversation, aiming for mutual understanding rather than winning an argument. 3. **Opening**: Recommends starting from a neutral, third-party perspective to establish a common ground. 4. **Exploring Stories**: Emphasizes authentic listening to the other person's story and expressing one's own story, focusing on personal experiences and feelings. 5. **Problem-Solving**: Involves reframing statements into useful concepts, finding solutions that meet both parties' needs, and setting standards for future communication. By dissecting the dynamics of difficult conversations into these components, the book offers a comprehensive framework for approaching complex interpersonal interactions. This method promotes understanding, empathy, and effective communication, ultimately leading to more productive and less confrontational outcomes. %% ## ChatGPT summary "Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most" is a book by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. It was developed from the work at the Harvard Negotiation Project. The book delves into the challenges people face when having conversations that are difficult or contentious and provides insights and strategies to handle them effectively. Here's a brief summary of its core concepts: 1. **The Three Conversations**: Most difficult conversations can be broken down into three underlying conversations: * **The "What Happened?" Conversation**: This is about disagreements over what happened or what should happen. Who's right, who meant what, and who's to blame. * **The Feelings Conversation**: Every difficult conversation also involves feelings. Are they valid? Should they be shared? How can they be addressed? * **The Identity Conversation**: This is about the larger implications of the conversation for our self-concepts. It's about who we are and how we see ourselves. 2. **Moving from Blame to Contribution**: Instead of focusing on assigning blame, look at how each party has contributed to the situation. It’s more productive and allows for a more constructive conversation. 3. **Sharing and Acknowledging Feelings**: Emotions are a fundamental part of difficult conversations. It's important to both acknowledge your feelings and to be open to hearing about the other person's feelings. 4. **Be Aware of Identity**: Recognize that difficult conversations can challenge your self-worth or how you see yourself. Understand the identity issues at play for both you and the other person. 5. **Listen Actively**: Instead of just preparing your response while the other person talks, genuinely listen to what they're saying. This helps in understanding their perspective and creates an atmosphere of respect. 6. **Speak from Your Perspective**: Use "I" statements rather than making absolute declarations. This way, you express your viewpoint without invalidating the other person's perspective. 7. **The "And" Stance**: You don't have to choose between your feelings and theirs. It's possible to understand their perspective AND maintain your own. This stance helps in creating mutual understanding. 8. **Crafting a Learning Conversation**: Instead of entering the conversation with a need to "win," approach it with the intent to learn and understand the other person's point of view. 9. **Preparation**: Before diving into a difficult conversation, reflect on what you hope to achieve, anticipate potential reactions, and plan your words. 10. **Problem-solving**: After understanding each other's perspectives and feelings, collaboratively problem solve. This means generating options that address both parties' concerns and needs. Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the importance of empathy, self-awareness, and clear communication. By understanding and applying the principles outlined in "Difficult Conversations," individuals can navigate challenging discussions with greater confidence and skill, leading to better outcomes and stronger relationships. ## Highlights ### Preface to the Second Edition - When we completed Difficult Conversations ten years ago, we hoped it would catch on with businesses and help people in personal relationships. Happily, it’s done both. ([Location 301](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=301)) - We have **perceptions and thoughts and feelings**, and we work and play with other human beings who have their own perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. ([Location 322](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=322)) - The long-term success and even survival of many organizations may depend on their ability to master difficult conversations. ([Location 338](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=338)) - Why? Because **the ability to handle difficult conversations well is a prerequisite to organizational change and adaptation**. ([Location 339](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=339)) - We believe a major reason change efforts so often fail is that successful implementation eventually requires people to have difficult conversations — and they are not prepared to manage them skillfully. ([Location 347](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=347)) - The ability to manage difficult conversations effectively is foundational, then, to achieving almost any significant change. ([Location 353](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=353)) - Ideally, conflict and differing perspectives, handled well and efficiently, should become a competitive asset — an engine for rapid learning and innovation. ([Location 364](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=364)) ### Acknowledgments - In addition to our own research and reflection, this work incorporates and builds on ideas from many other disciplines. Our training was originally in **negotiation, mediation, and law**, but this book draws at least as much from the fields of **organizational behavior; cognitive, client-centered, and family therapies; social psychology; communication theory; and the growing body of work around the idea of “dialogue.”** ([Location 425](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=425)) - This work began in a teaching collaboration with faculty from the Family Institute of Cambridge, who have contributed to it in countless ways. Dr. Richard Chasin and Dr. Richard Lee worked with Bruce Patton and Roger Fisher to develop what we call the Interpersonal Skills Exercise (itself inspired by a demonstration offered by psychodrama specialists Dr. Carl and Sharon Hollander) in which participants are coached on their toughest conversations. ([Location 428](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=428)) - We are also grateful to Chris Argyris and to the partners of Action Design: Diana McLain Smith, Bob Putnam, and Phil McArthur. Their insights into the dilemmas of organizational life and interpersonal structures have proven invaluable to our understanding of conversations ([Location 434](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=434)) - The two rules for expressing feelings come from Bob Putnam. ([Location 438](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=438)) - Our understanding of how to tell your story and get off to a good start reflects the work of Don Schön and Diana Smith on framing, and input from John Richardson on roles. ([Location 438](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=438)) - From the field of cognitive therapy, we have benefited from the research and writings of Aaron Beck and David Burns. We are particularly indebted to them for their research on how cognitive distortions affect our self-image and emotions. ([Location 441](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=441)) - Our work on listening and the power of authenticity was influenced by Carl Rogers, Sheila Reindl, and Suzanne Repetto. ([Location 446](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=446)) ### Introduction - **A Difficult Conversation Is Anything You Find It Hard to Talk About** - What makes these situations so hard to face? It’s our fear of the consequences—whether we raise the issue or try to avoid it. ([Location 500](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=500)) - **The Dilemma: Avoid or Confront, It Seems There Is No Good Path** - If we try to avoid the problem, we’ll feel taken advantage of, our feelings will fester, we’ll wonder why we don’t stick up for ourselves, and we’ll rob the other person of the opportunity to improve things. But if we confront the problem, things might get even worse. ([Location 510](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=510)) - **There Is No Such Thing as a Diplomatic Hand Grenade** - Desperate for a way out of the dilemma, we wonder if it is possible to be so tactful, so overwhelmingly pleasant that everything ends up fine. ([Location 514](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=514)) - **Delivering a difficult message is like throwing a hand grenade. Coated with sugar, thrown hard or soft, a hand grenade is still going to do damage.** ([Location 518](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=518)) - Choosing not to deliver a difficult message is like hanging on to a hand grenade once you’ve pulled the pin. ([Location 520](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=520)) - **The Rewards Are Worth the Effort** - If you follow the steps presented in this book, you will find difficult conversations becoming easier and causing less anxiety. You will be more effective and happier with the results. And as your anxiety goes down and your satisfaction goes up, you will find that you are choosing to engage more often in conversations that you should have been having all along. ([Location 533](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=533)) - In fact, the people we’ve worked with, who have learned new approaches to dealing with their most challenging conversations, **report less anxiety and greater effectiveness in all of their conversations**. They find they are less afraid of what others might say. ([Location 536](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=536)) - It will help you understand better what you’re up against and why it makes sense to **shift from a “message delivery stance” to a “learning stance.”** Only then will you be able to understand and implement the steps of a learning conversation. ([Location 559](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=559)) - **Difficult Conversations Are a Normal Part of Life** - So it is best to keep your goals realistic. Eliminating fear and anxiety is an unrealistic goal. Reducing fear and anxiety and learning how to manage that which remains are more obtainable. Achieving perfect results with no risk will not happen. Getting better results in the face of tolerable odds might. ([Location 566](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=566)) ### THE PROBLEM #### 1. Sort Out the Three Conversations - **Decoding the Structure of Difficult Conversations** - To make the structure of a difficult conversation visible, **we need to understand not only what is said, but also what is not said.** We need to understand what the people involved are thinking and feeling but not saying to each other. **In a difficult conversation, this is usually where the real action is.** ([Location 604](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=604)) - It's about what each person withholds from the other. There's a lot going on beneath the surface. - The first insight, then, is a simple one: **there’s an awful lot going on between Jack and Michael that is not being spoken.** ([Location 634](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=634)) - ==**Each Difficult Conversation Is Really Three Conversations**: It turns out that no matter what the subject, our thoughts and feelings fall into the same three categories, or “conversations.”== And in each of these conversations we make predictable errors that distort our thoughts and feelings, and get us into trouble. ([Location 641](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=641)) - ==**1. The “What Happened?” Conversation**. Most difficult conversations involve disagreement about what has happened or what should happen.== ([Location 644](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=644)) - ==**2. The Feelings Conversation**. Every difficult conversation also asks and answers questions about feelings. Are my feelings valid? Appropriate?== ([Location 647](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=647)) - ==**3. The Identity Conversation**. This is the conversation we each have with ourselves about what this situation means to us.== ([Location 652](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=652)) - **The “What Happened?” Conversation: What’s the Story Here?** - **The Truth Assumption**: - ==As we argue vociferously for our view, we often fail to question one crucial assumption upon which our whole stance in the conversation is built: I am right, you are wrong. This simple assumption causes endless grief.== ([Location 674](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=674)) - **Yoram calls this "the bug:" The belief, whether consciously aware or not, that we can and do know with certainty how something out there in the world is objectively.** This is rooted in how we use language, which implicitly assumes that we have such knowledge, e.g., of what is right or wrong. - **Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values. They are not about what is true, they are about what is important.** ([Location 684](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=684)) - **In the “What Happened?” Conversation, moving away from the truth assumption frees us to shift our purpose from proving we are right to understanding the perceptions, interpretations, and values of both sides.** ([Location 687](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=687)) - **The Intention Invention**: - The second argument in the “What Happened?” Conversation is over intentions—yours and mine. ([Location 691](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=691)) - **==The error we make in the realm of intentions is simple but profound: we assume we know the intentions of others when we don’t. Worse still, when we are unsure about someone’s intentions, we too often decide they are bad.==** ([Location 695](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=695)) - ==**The truth is, intentions are invisible. We assume them from other people’s behavior. In other words, we make them up, we invent them.**== ([Location 697](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=697)) - **The Blame Frame:** - ==**The third error we make in the “What Happened?” Conversation has to do with blame. Most difficult conversations focus significant attention on who’s to blame for the mess we’re in.**== ([Location 702](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=702)) - **But talking about fault is similar to talking about truth—it produces disagreement, denial, and little learning.** It evokes fears of punishment and insists on an either/or answer. ([Location 709](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=709)) - **Talking about blame distracts us from exploring why things went wrong and how we might correct them going forward.** Focusing instead on understanding the contribution system (i.e., how each party has contributed to the situation) allows us to learn about the real causes of the problem, and to work on correcting them. ([Location 718](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=718)) - **The Feelings Conversation: What Should We Do with Our Emotions?** - Difficult conversations do not just involve feelings, they are at their very core about feelings. Feelings are not some noisy byproduct of engaging in difficult talk, they are an integral part of the conflict. ([Location 735](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=735)) - **Engaging in a difficult conversation without talking about feelings is like staging an opera without the music.** You’ll get the plot but miss the point. ([Location 736](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=736)) - **The Identity Conversation: What Does This Say About Me?** - **The Identity Conversation looks inward: it’s all about who we are and how we see ourselves. How does what happened affect my self-esteem, my self-image, my sense of who I am in the world?** What impact will it have on my future? What self-doubts do I harbor? In short: before, during, and after the difficult conversation, the Identity Conversation is about what I am saying to myself about me. ([Location 751](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=751)) - **Moving Toward a Learning Conversation** - Instead of wanting to persuade and get your way, you want to understand what has happened from the other person’s point of view, explain your point of view, share and understand feelings, and work together to figure out a way to manage the problem going forward. ([Location 786](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=786)) - The differences between a typical battle of messages and a learning conversation are summarized in the chart on the following pages: - ![[Pasted image 20231006072604.png|400]] - ![[Pasted image 20231006072619.png|400]] ### SHIFT TO A LEARNING STANCE #### The “What Happened?” Conversation ##### 2. Stop Arguing About Who’s Right: Explore Each Other’s Stories - **Why We Argue, and Why It Doesn’t Help** - **We Think *They* Are the Problem** - “There are two sides to every story.” But most of us don’t really buy that. Deep down, we believe that the problem, put simply, is them. ([Location 864](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=864)) - **They Think *We* Are the Problem** - **We Each Make Sense in Our Story of What Happened** - In the normal course of things, we don’t notice the ways in which our story of the world is different from other people’s. But difficult conversations arise at precisely those points where important parts of our story collide with another person’s story. **We assume the collision is because of how the other person is; they assume it’s because of how we are. But really ==the collision is a result of our stories simply being different, with neither of us realizing it.==** ([Location 900](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=900)) - **Arguing Blocks Us from Exploring Each Other’s Stories** - Arguing inhibits our ability to learn how the other person sees the world. When we argue, we tend to trade conclusions—the “bottom line” of what we think: ([Location 906](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=906)) - **Arguing Without Understanding Is Unpersuasive** - Arguing creates another problem in difficult conversations: it inhibits change. Telling someone to change makes it less rather than more likely that they will. This is because people almost never change without first feeling understood. ([Location 913](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=913)) - **==To get anywhere in a disagreement, we need to understand the other person’s story well enough to see how their conclusions make sense within it.== And we need to help them understand the story in which our conclusions make sense.** ([Location 926](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=926)) - **Different Stories: Why We Each See the World Differently** - ==Our stories don’t come out of nowhere. They aren’t random. **Our stories are built in often unconscious but systematic ways:**== - ==**Our observations**: First, we take in information. We experience the world—sights, sounds, and feelings.== - ==**Our interpretations**: Second, we interpret what we see, hear, and feel; we give it all meaning.== - ==**Our conclusions**: Then we draw conclusions about what’s happening. == - ==**And at each step, there is an opportunity for different people’s stories to diverge.** Put simply, we all have different stories about the world because we each take in different information and then interpret this information in our own unique ways.== ([Location 936](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=936)) - ==**1. We Have Different Information (i.e., observations)**== - **We notice different things within the set of available information** - As each of us proceeds through life—and through any difficult situation—the information available to us is overwhelming. We simply can’t take in all of the sights, sounds, facts, and feelings involved in even a single encounter. Inevitably, we end up noticing some things and ignoring others. And what we each choose to notice and ignore will be different. - What we notice has to do with who we are and what we care about. Some of us pay more attention to feelings and relationships. Others to status and power, or to facts and logic. ([Location 948](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=948)) - **We have access to different information** - We Each Know Ourselves Better Than Anyone Else Can. In addition to choosing different information, we each have access to different information. For example, others have access to information about themselves that we don’t. They know the constraints they are under; we don’t. ([Location 967](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=967)) - ==**2. We Have Different Interpretations**== - **Even when we have the same information, we interpret it differently—we give it different meaning.** ([Location 986](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=986)) - **We Are Influenced by Past Experiences. The past gives meaning to the present.** - Often, it is only in the context of someone’s past experience that we can understand why what they are saying or doing makes any kind of sense. ([Location 989](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=989)) - **We Apply Different Implicit Rules. Our past experiences often develop into “rules” by which we live our lives.** ([Location 1005](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1005)) - We get into trouble when our rules collide. ([Location 1008](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1008)) - It helps to clarify the implicit rules that each is unconsciously applying. ([Location 1012](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1012)) - Our implicit rules often take the form of things people “should” or “shouldn’t” do: “You should spend money on education, but not on clothes.” ([Location 1016](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1016)) - ==**3. Our Conclusions Reflect Self-Interest**== - **Our conclusions are partisan; they often reflect our self-interest. We look for information to support our view and give that information the most favorable interpretation. Then we feel even more certain that our view is right.** ([Location 1023](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1023)) - Confirmation bias - This tendency to develop unconsciously biased perceptions is very human, and can be dangerous. It calls for a dose of humility about the “rightness” of our story, especially when we have something important at stake. ([Location 1032](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1032)) - **Move from Certainty to Curiosity** - **There’s only one way to come to understand the other person’s story, and that’s by being curious.** - Instead of asking yourself, “How can they think that?!” ask yourself, “I wonder what information they have that I don’t?” Instead of asking, “How can they be so irrational?” ask, “How might they see the world such that their view makes sense?” - **Certainty locks us out of their story; curiosity lets us in.** - **Embrace Both Stories: Adopt the “And Stance”** - We usually assume that we must either accept or reject the other person’s story, and that if we accept theirs, we must abandon our own. ([Location 1074](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1074)) - **==Don’t choose between the stories; embrace both. That’s the And Stance.==** - **Don’t worry about accepting or rejecting the other person’s story. First work to understand it. The mere act of understanding someone else’s story doesn’t require you to give up your own.** The And Stance allows you to recognize that how you each see things matters. - **The And Stance is based on the assumption that the world is complex, that you can feel hurt, angry, and wronged, and they can feel just as hurt, angry, and wronged.** ([Location 1083](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1083)) - The most useful question is not “Who’s right?” but “Now that we really understand each other, what’s a good way to manage this problem?” ([Location 1090](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1090)) - **Two Exceptions That Aren’t** - I Really Am Right ([Location 1097](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1097)) - Giving Bad News ([Location 1116](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1116)) ##### 3. Don’t Assume They Meant It: Disentangle Intent from Impact - The question of who intended what is central to our story about what’s happening in a difficult situation. **Intentions strongly influence our judgments of others: If someone intended to hurt us, we judge them more harshly than if they hurt us by mistake.** ([Location 1142](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1142)) - **The First Mistake: Our Assumptions About Intentions Are Often Wrong** - **==Other people’s intentions exist only in their hearts and minds. They are invisible to us.==** However real and right our assumptions about other people’s intentions may seem to us, they are often incomplete or just plain wrong. ([Location 1174](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1174)) - **We Assume Intentions from the Impact on Us** - **We Assume the Worst.** The conclusions we draw about intentions based on the impact of others’ actions on us are rarely charitable. ([Location 1180](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1180)) - **We Treat Ourselves More Charitably.** What’s ironic—and all too human—about our tendency to attribute bad intentions to others is how differently we treat ourselves. ([Location 1195](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1195)) - **Getting Their Intentions Wrong Is Costly** - **We Assume Bad Intentions Mean Bad Character.** Perhaps the biggest danger of assuming the other person had bad intentions is that we easily jump from “they had bad intentions” to “they are a bad person.” ([Location 1207](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1207)) - **Accusing Them of Bad Intentions Creates Defensiveness.** Our assumptions about other people’s intentions can also have a significant impact on our conversations. ([Location 1215](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1215)) - **Attributions Can Become Self-Fulfilling.** Our assumptions about the other person’s intentions often come true, even when they aren’t true to begin with. ([Location 1230](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1230)) - When we think others have bad intentions toward us, it affects our behavior. And, in turn, how we behave affects how they treat us. Before we know it, our assumption that they have bad intentions toward us has come true. ([Location 1234](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1234)) - **The Second Mistake: Good Intentions Don’t Sanitize Bad Impact** - In other words: Simply because you had good intentions doesn't mean the other won't get hurt. - **We Don’t Hear What They Are Really Trying to Say** - **We Ignore the Complexity of Human Motivations** - Another problem with assuming that good intentions sanitize a negative impact is that intentions are often more complex than just “good” or “bad.” ([Location 1257](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1257)) - **We Aggravate Hostility—Especially Between Groups** - **Avoiding the Two Mistakes** - **Avoiding the First Mistake: Disentangle Impact and Intent** - **Separating impact from intentions** requires us to be aware of the automatic leap from “I was hurt” to “You intended to hurt me.” - **==You can make this distinction by asking yourself three questions:==** 1. **Actions: “What did the other person actually say or do?”** (i.e., what observations do I have?) 2. **Impact: “What was the impact of this on me?”** (i.e., what feelings did this trigger and what needs were affected in me?) 3. **Assumption: “Based on this impact, what assumption am I making about what the other person intended?”** (i.e., what judgments do I have about the other person?) - **Hold Your View as a Hypothesis.** Once you have clearly answered these three questions, the next step is to make absolutely certain that you recognize that your assumption about their intentions is just an assumption. It is a guess, a hypothesis. ([Location 1291](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1291)) - **Share the Impact on You; Inquire About Their Intentions.** - The book seems to assume that people can have "bad intentions." An NVC perspective would hold that this isn't possible, but that everyone is trying to meet needs that are in and of themselves "beautiful," and that only the strategies chosen to meet those needs can be "bad" in that they have adverse impact on others. - **Avoiding the Second Mistake: Listen for Feelings, and Reflect on Your Intentions** - Listen Past the Accusation for the Feelings. - Be Open to Reflecting on the Complexity of Your Intentions. ##### 4. Abandon Blame: Map the Contribution System - **In Our Story, Blame Seems Clear** - **We’re Caught in Blame’s Web** - **Focusing on blame is a bad idea because it inhibits our ability to learn what’s really causing the problem and to do anything meaningful to correct it. And because blame is often irrelevant and unfair.** ([Location 1370](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1370)) - **The urge to blame is based, quite literally, on a misunderstanding of what has given rise to the issues between you and the other person**, and on the fear of being blamed. ([Location 1372](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1372)) - Too often, blaming also serves as a bad proxy for talking directly about hurt feelings. ([Location 1373](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1373)) - **Distinguish Blame from Contribution** - At heart, blame is about judging and contribution is about understanding. ([Location 1378](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1378)) - ==**Blame Is About Judging, and Looks Backward**== - ==**Contribution Is About Understanding, and Looks Forward**== - The first question is **“How did we each contribute to bringing about the current situation?”** ([Location 1391](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1391)) - The second question is **“Having identified the contribution system, how can we change it? What can we do about it as we go forward?”** ([Location 1392](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1392)) - ==**Contribution Is Joint and Interactive**== - **A contribution system includes inputs from both people.** ([Location 1445](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1445)) - Other than in extreme cases, such as child abuse, almost every situation that gives rise to a conversation is the result of a joint contribution system. ([Location 1452](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1452)) - **The Costs of the Blame Frame** - When Blame Is the Goal, Understanding Is the Casualty ([Location 1457](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1457)) - There's a trade-off between assigning blame and gaining an understanding of what really happened. ([Location 1462](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1462)) - Focusing on Blame Hinders Problem-Solving ([Location 1465](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1465)) - Blame Can Leave a Bad System Undiscovered ([Location 1471](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1471)) - **The Benefits of Understanding Contribution** - Contribution Is Easier to Raise ([Location 1484](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1484)) - Contribution Encourages Learning and Change ([Location 1495](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1495)) - **Three Misconceptions About Contribution** - Misconception #1: I Should Focus Only on My Contribution ([Location 1507](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1507)) - Finding your contribution doesn’t in any way negate the other person’s contribution. It has taken both of you to get into this mess. It will probably take both of you to get out. ([Location 1509](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1509)) - Misconception #2: Putting Aside Blame Means Putting Aside My Feelings ([Location 1514](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1514)) - As you and the other person look at how you have each contributed to the problem, sharing your feelings is essential. ([Location 1516](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1516)) - Misconception #3: Exploring Contribution Means “Blaming the Victim” ([Location 1526](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1526)) - **Finding Your Fair Share: Four Hard-to-Spot Contributions** - **1. Avoiding Until Now** - One of the most common contributions to a problem, and one of the easiest to overlook, is the simple act of avoiding. You have allowed the problem to continue unchecked by not having addressed it earlier. ([Location 1553](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1553)) - A particularly problematic form of avoiding is complaining to a third party instead of to the person with whom you’re upset. ([Location 1560](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1560)) - **2. Being Unapproachable** - The flip side of not bringing something up is having an interpersonal style that keeps people at bay. You contribute by being uninterested, unpredictable, short-tempered, judgmental, punitive, hypersensitive, argumentative, or unfriendly. ([Location 1567](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1567)) - **3. Intersections** - Intersections result from a simple difference between two people in background, preferences, communication style, or assumptions about relationships. ([Location 1572](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1572)) - **4. Problematic Role Assumptions** - A fourth hard-to-spot contribution involves assumptions, often unconscious, about your role in a situation. ([Location 1608](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1608)) - **Two Tools for Spotting Contribution** - **Role Reversal** - Ask yourself, “What would they say I’m contributing?” Pretend you are the other person and answer the question in the first person, ([Location 1626](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1626)) - **The Observer’s Insight** - Step back and look at the problem from the perspective of a disinterested observer. Imagine that you are a consultant called in to help the people in this situation better understand why they are getting stuck. How would you describe, in a neutral, nonjudgmental way, what each person is contributing? ([Location 1629](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1629)) - **Moving from Blame to Contribution—An Example** - Map the Contribution System ([Location 1651](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1651)) - What Are They Contributing? ([Location 1658](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1658)) - What Am I Contributing? ([Location 1665](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1665)) - Who Else Is Involved? ([Location 1677](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1677)) - Take Responsibility for Your Contribution Early ([Location 1680](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1680)) - Help Them Understand Their Contribution ([Location 1698](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1698)) - Make Your Observations and Reasoning Explicit. ([Location 1700](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1700)) - Clarify What You Would Have Them Do Differently. ([Location 1707](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1707)) #### The Feelings Conversation ##### 5. Have Your Feelings (Or They Will Have You) - **Feelings Matter: They Are Often at the Heart of Difficult Conversations** - **We Try to Frame Feelings Out of the Problem** - ==Framing feelings out of the problem is one way we cope with the dilemma of whether to raise something or avoid it.== - The problem is that when feelings are at the heart of what’s going on, they are the business at hand and ignoring them is nearly impossible. ==In many difficult conversations, it is really only at the level of feelings that the problem can be addressed.== ([Location 1758](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1758)) - **Unexpressed Feelings Can Leak into the Conversation** - Unspoken feelings can color the conversation in a number of ways. They alter your affect and tone of voice. They express themselves through your body language or facial expression. They may take the form of long pauses or an odd and unexplained detachment. You may become sarcastic, aggressive, impatient, unpredictable, or defensive. ([Location 1777](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1777)) - **Unexpressed Feelings Can Burst into the Conversation** - **Unexpressed Feelings Make It Difficult to Listen** - When people are having a hard time listening, often it is not because they don’t know how to listen well. It is, paradoxically, because they don’t know how to express themselves well. Unexpressed feelings can block the ability to listen. ([Location 1795](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1795)) - Why? Because ==good listening requires an open and honest curiosity about the other person, and a willingness and ability to keep the spotlight on them. Buried emotions draw the spotlight back to us.== ([Location 1797](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1797)) - **Unexpressed Feelings Take a Toll on Our Self-Esteem and Relationships** - **A Way Out of the Feelings Bind** - First, you need to sort out just what your feelings are; second, you need to negotiate with your feelings; and third, you need to share your actual feelings, not attributions or judgments about the other person. ([Location 1812](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1812)) - **Finding Your Feelings: Learn Where Feelings Hide** - Recognizing feelings is challenging. Feelings are more complex and nuanced than we usually imagine. ([Location 1820](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1820)) - Explore Your Emotional Footprint ([Location 1823](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1823)) - Find the Bundle of Feelings Behind the Simple Labels ([Location 1874](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1874)) - Find the Feelings Lurking Under Attributions, Judgments, and Accusations ([Location 1923](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1923)) - Use the Urge to Blame as a Clue to Find Important Feelings. ([Location 1948](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1948)) - **Don’t Treat Feelings as Gospel: Negotiate with Them** - Most of us assume that our feelings are static and nonnegotiable, and that if they are to be shared authentically, they must be shared “as is.” In fact, ==our feelings are based on our perceptions, and our perceptions (as we have seen in the preceding three chapters) are negotiable.== As we see the world in new ways, our feelings shift accordingly. Before sharing feelings, then, it is crucial to negotiate—with ourselves. ([Location 1961](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1961)) - What does it mean to negotiate with our feelings? Fundamentally, it involves a recognition that ==our feelings are formed in response to our thoughts.== ([Location 1964](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1964)) - This means that the route to changing your feelings is through altering your thinking. ([Location 1969](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1969)) - **First, we need to examine our own story.** What is the story we are telling ourselves that is giving rise to how we feel? What is our story missing? What might the other person’s story be? ==Almost always, an increased awareness of the other person’s story changes how we feel.== ([Location 1971](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1971)) - **Next, we need to explore our assumptions about the other person’s intentions.** To what extent are our feelings based on an untested assumption about their intentions? ([Location 1973](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1973)) - **Finally, we should consider the contribution system.** Are we able to see our own contribution to the problem? ([Location 1977](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1977)) - **Don’t Vent: Describe Feelings Carefully** - 1. Frame Feelings Back into the Problem ([Location 1998](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=1998)) - 2. Express the Full Spectrum of Your Feelings ([Location 2006](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2006)) - 3. Don’t Evaluate—Just Share ([Location 2021](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2021)) - **The Importance of Acknowledgment** - It’s tempting to jump over feelings. We want to get on with things, to address the problem, to make everything better. ([Location 2066](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2066)) - Acknowledging feelings is crucial in any relationship, and particularly so in what are sometimes referred to as “intractable conflicts.” ([Location 2075](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2075)) - **Sometimes Feelings Are All That Matter** #### The Identity Conversation ##### 6. Ground Your Identity: Ask Yourself What’s at Stake - **Difficult Conversations Threaten Our Identity** - The conversation has the potential to disrupt our sense of who we are in the world, or to highlight what we hope we are but fear we are not. The conversation poses a threat to our identity—the story we tell ourselves about ourselves—and having our identity threatened can be profoundly disturbing. ([Location 2105](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2105)) - ==**Three Core Identities**== - Am I **Competent**? - Am I **a Good Person**? - Am I **Worthy of Love**? - An Identity Quake Can Knock Us Off Balance ([Location 2121](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2121)) - There’s No Quick Fix ([Location 2129](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2129)) - You can’t “quake-proof” your sense of self. **Grappling with identity issues is what life and growth are all about**, and no amount of love or accomplishment or skill can insulate you from these challenges. ([Location 2130](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2130)) - **You can improve your ability to recognize and cope with identity issues when they hit.** ([Location 2137](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2137)) - **Vulnerable Identities: The All-or-Nothing Syndrome** - ==**The biggest factor that contributes to a vulnerable identity is “all-or-nothing” thinking**: I’m either competent or incompetent, good or evil, worthy of love or not.== ([Location 2141](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2141)) - **Denial** ([Location 2147](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2147)) - Clinging to a purely positive identity leaves no place in our self-concept for negative feedback. ([Location 2147](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2147)) - **Exaggeration** ([Location 2158](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2158)) - The alternative to denial is exaggeration. In all-or-nothing thinking, taking in negative feedback requires us not just to adjust our self-image, but to flip it. If I’m not completely competent, then I’m completely incompetent: ([Location 2159](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2159)) - **Ground Your Identity** - First, you need to become familiar with those identity issues that are important to you, so you can spot them during a conversation. Second, ==you need to learn to integrate new information into your identity in ways that are healthy==—a step that requires you to let go of all-or-nothing thinking. ([Location 2170](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2170)) - **Step One: Become Aware of Your Identity Issues** - Often during a difficult conversation we are not even aware that our identity is implicated. ([Location 2173](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2173)) - ==What about your identity feels at risk? What does this mean to you? How would it feel if what you fear were true?== ([Location 2179](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2179)) - **Step Two: Complexify Your Identity (Adopt the And Stance)** - ==Once you’ve identified which aspects of your identity are most important to you or seem most vulnerable, you can begin to complexify your self-image. This means moving away from the false choice between “I am perfect” and “I am worthless,” and trying to get as clear a picture as you can about what is actually true about you.== ([Location 2196](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2196)) - **Three Things to Accept About Yourself** - **You Will Make Mistakes.** If you can’t admit to yourself that you sometimes make mistakes, you’ll find it more difficult to understand and accept the legitimate aspects of the other person’s story about what is going on. ([Location 2219](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2219)) - **Your Intentions Are Complex.** Sometimes we get nervous about upcoming conversations because we know that our past behavior was not always motivated by good intentions. ([Location 2233](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2233)) - **You Have Contributed to the Problem.** A third crucial step for grounding yourself involves assessing and taking responsibility for what you’ve contributed to the problem. ([Location 2242](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2242)) - **During the Conversation: Learn to Regain Your Balance** - “You never lose your balance. What is your secret?” “You are wrong,” O Sensei replied. **“I am constantly losing my balance. My skill lies in my ability to regain it.”** So it is with difficult conversations. ([Location 2261](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2261)) - ==Four things you can do before and during a difficult conversation to help yourself maintain and regain your balance include: letting go of trying to control their reaction, preparing for their response, imagining the future to gain perspective, and if you lose your balance, taking a break.== ([Location 2266](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2266)) - **Let Go of Trying to Control Their Reaction** - There’s nothing wrong (and plenty right) with not wanting to hurt someone, or wanting them to like you even after you convey bad news. Yet holding this as a purpose in the conversation leads to trouble. Just as you can’t change another person, you can’t control their reaction—and you shouldn’t try. ([Location 2273](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2273)) - **Prepare for Their Response** - Take time in advance to imagine the conversation. ([Location 2298](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2298)) - **Imagine That It’s Three Months Or Ten Years From Now** - **Take a Break** - **Their Identity Is Also Implicated** - **Raising Identity Issues Explicitly** - **Find the Courage to Ask for Help** - If part of your identity is believing that you don’t need help, then asking for it is never going to be easy. And when you do ask, not everyone will come through for you, and that will be painful. But many people will. ([Location 2350](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2350)) ### CREATE A LEARNING CONVERSATION #### 7. What’s Your Purpose? When to Raise It and When to Let Go - You can’t have every difficult conversation you come across. Life is too short, the list too long. So how do you decide when to have a conversation, ([Location 2357](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2357)) - **To Raise or Not to Raise: How to Decide?** - How Do I Know I’ve Made the Right Choice? ([Location 2369](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2369)) - **Hold as your goal to think clearly as you take on the task of making a considered choice.** That is as good as any of us can do. ([Location 2373](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2373)) - **Work Through the Three Conversations** - ==In every case, work through the Three Conversations as best you can. Get a better handle on your feelings, key identity issues, and possible distortions or gaps in your perceptions. Think clearly about what you do know (your own feelings, your own experiences and story, your identity issues), and what you don’t know (their intentions, their perspective, or feelings).== ([Location 2375](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2375)) - **Three Kinds of Conversations That *Don’t* Make Sense** - **Is the Real Conflict Inside You?** - In that case, a conversation focused on the interaction isn’t going to be very illuminating or productive, at least until you’ve had a longer conversation with yourself. ([Location 2385](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2385)) - **Is There a Better Way to Address the Issue Than Talking About It?** - As you sort out your feelings or identify your contribution to a situation it may become clear that what’s called for is not a conversation about the interaction, but a change in your behavior. Sometimes actions are better than words. ([Location 2399](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2399)) - **Do You Have Purposes That Make Sense?** - **Remember, You Can’t Change Other People.** ([Location 2449](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2449)) - Don’t Focus on Short-Term Relief at Long-Term Cost. ([Location 2463](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2463)) - Don’t Hit-and-Run. Often, when we have something important to say, we say it now because now is when it’s causing us frustration. Most of us are thoughtful enough to avoid the most egregious errors of bad timing. ([Location 2485](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2485)) - If you’re going to talk, talk. Really talk. And if you’re really going to talk, you can’t do it on the fly. You have to plan a time to talk. ([Location 2494](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2494)) - **Letting Go** - ==Sometimes—despite our very best efforts—nothing helps. You can’t force the other person to want to invest in the relationship or work things out.== ([Location 2502](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2502)) - **Adopt Some Liberating Assumptions** - It’s Not My Responsibility to Make Things Better; It’s My Responsibility to Do My Best. ([Location 2523](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2523)) - They Have Limitations Too. ([Location 2531](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2531)) - This Conflict Is Not Who I Am. ([Location 2540](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2540)) - Letting Go Doesn’t Mean I No Longer Care. ([Location 2551](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2551)) - **If You Raise It: Three Purposes That Work** - ==**The gold standard here is working for mutual understanding.** Not mutual agreement, necessarily, but a better understanding of each of your stories, so that you can make informed decisions (alone or together) about what to do next.== ([Location 2573](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2573)) - **1. Learning Their Story** - ==What information do they see that we missed or don’t have access to? What past experiences influence them? What is their reasoning for why they did what they did? What were their intentions? How did our actions impact them?== ([Location 2577](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2577)) - **2. Expressing Your Views and Feelings** - ==Your goal should be to express your views and feelings to your own satisfaction. You hope that the other person will understand what you are saying, and perhaps be moved by it, but you can’t count on that.== ([Location 2581](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2581)) - **3. Problem-Solving Together** - ==Given what you and the other person have each learned, what would improve the situation going forward?== ([Location 2585](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2585)) - **Stance and Purpose Go Hand in Hand** - Work from a learning stance with these purposes in mind. ([Location 2593](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2593)) #### 8. Getting Started: Begin from the Third Story - **Why Our Typical Openings Don’t Help** - **We Begin Inside Our Own Story** - ==When we jump into conversations we typically begin inside our story.== We describe the problem from our own perspective and, in doing so, trigger just the kinds of reactions we hope to avoid. ([Location 2614](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2614)) - **We Trigger Their Identity Conversation from the Start** - ==Our story invariably (though often unintentionally) communicates a judgment about them==—the kind of person they are—and the fact that inside our version of the events, they are the problem. ([Location 2618](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2618)) - **Step One: Begin from the Third Story** - **==In addition to your story and the other person’s story, every difficult conversation includes an invisible Third Story. The Third Story is the one a keen observer would tell, someone with no stake in your particular problem.==** ([Location 2635](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2635)) - **Think Like a Mediator** - Mediators are third parties who help people solve their problems. Unlike judges or arbitrators, though, mediators have no power to impose a solution; they are there to help the two sides communicate more effectively, and to explore possible ways of moving forward. ([Location 2642](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2642)) - One of the most helpful tools a mediator has is the ability to **identify this invisible Third Story. ==This means describing the problem between the parties in a way that rings true for both sides simultaneously.==** ([Location 2644](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2644)) - **The trick is being able to get two people with different stories to sign on to the same description of what is going on.** ([Location 2646](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2646)) - **Not Right or Wrong, Not Better or Worse – Just Different** - **The key is learning to describe the gap—or difference—between your story and the other person’s story.** Whatever else you may think and feel, you can at least agree that you and the other person see things differently. ([Location 2651](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2651)) - The Third Story would remove the judgment from the description, and instead describe the problem as a difference between Jason and Jill. It might go like this: “Jason and Jill have different preferences around when the dishes are done, and different standards for what constitutes appropriate or obsessive cleanliness. Each is unhappy with the other’s approach.” ([Location 2661](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2661)) - You can begin from the Third Story by saying, **“My sense is that you and I see this situation differently. I’d like to share how I’m seeing it, and learn more about how you’re seeing it.”** ([Location 2673](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2673)) - Stepping out of your story doesn’t mean giving up your point of view. Your purpose in opening the conversation is to invite the other person into a joint exploration. ([Location 2691](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2691)) - **If They Start the Conversation, You Can Still Step to the Third Story** - **Step Two: Extend an Invitation** - The second step in getting off to a good start is to offer a simple invitation: I’ve described the problem in a way we can each accept. **Now I want to propose mutual understanding and problem-solving as purposes, check to see if this makes sense to you, and invite you to join me in a conversation.** ([Location 2718](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2718)) - **Describe Your Purposes** - Letting them know up front that your goal for the discussion is to understand their perspective better, share your own, and talk about how to go forward together makes the conversation significantly less mysterious and threatening. ([Location 2722](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2722)) - **Invite, Don’t Impose** - The task of describing the problem and of setting purposes is itself a joint task. ([Location 2730](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2730)) - **Make Them Your Partner in Figuring It Out** - Be Persistent ([Location 2747](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2747)) - It may take a little work to help them understand what it is you are proposing. ([Location 2748](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2748)) - **Some Specific Kinds of Conversations** - Delivering Bad News ([Location 2767](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2767)) - Making Requests ([Location 2779](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2779)) - **The simple advice about making requests is this: Don’t make it a demand.** ([Location 2781](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2781)) - Revisiting Conversations Gone Wrong ([Location 2788](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2788)) - **A Map for Going Forward: Third Story, Their Story, Your Story** - ==**What to Talk About: The Three Conversations**== - Explore where each story comes from ([Location 2820](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2820)) - Share the impact on you ([Location 2821](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2821)) - Take responsibility for your contribution ([Location 2822](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2822)) - Describe feelings ([Location 2824](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2824)) - Reflect on the identity issues ([Location 2825](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2825)) #### 9. Learning: Listen from the Inside Out - ==**Listening Transforms the Conversation**== - **Listening to Them Helps Them Listen to You** - Because in the great majority of cases, **==the reason the other person is not listening to you is not because they are stubborn, but because they don’t feel heard.==** In other words, they aren’t listening to you for the same reason you aren’t listening to them: they think you are slow or stubborn. ([Location 2902](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2902)) - **If the block to their listening is that they don’t feel heard, then the way to remove that block is by helping them feel heard.** ([Location 2905](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2905)) - **Especially, listen for feelings**, like frustration or pride or fear, and acknowledge those feelings. ([Location 2909](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2909)) - **The Stance of Curiosity: How to Listen from the Inside Out** - The single most important thing Greta has done is to **shift her internal stance from “I understand” to “Help me understand.” Everything else follows from that.** ([Location 2914](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2914)) - **Forget the Words, Focus on Authenticity** - The problem is this: you are taught what to say and how to sit, but the heart of good listening is authenticity. ==**People “read” not only your words and posture, but what’s going on inside of you. If your “stance” isn’t genuine, the words won’t matter.** What will be communicated almost invariably is whether you are genuinely curious, whether you genuinely care about the other person.== ([Location 2921](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2921)) - ==**Listening is only powerful and effective if it is authentic**. Authenticity means that you are listening because you are curious and because you care, not just because you are supposed to. The issue, then, is this: Are you curious? Do you care?== ([Location 2925](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2925)) - The Commentator in Your Head: Become More Aware of Your Internal Voice - Don’t Turn It Off, Turn It Up ([Location 2933](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2933)) - Managing Your Internal Voice ([Location 2944](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2944)) - **Three Skills: Inquiry, Paraphrasing, and Acknowledgment** - ==In addition to the stance of curiosity, there are three primary skills that good listeners employ: inquiry, paraphrasing, and acknowledgment.== ([Location 2985](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2985)) - **Inquire to Learn** - Don’t Make Statements Disguised as Questions ([Location 2989](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=2989)) - Ask Open-Ended Questions ([Location 3020](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3020)) - Ask for More Concrete Information ([Location 3025](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3025)) - Ask Questions About the Three Conversations ([Location 3053](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3053)) - Make It Safe for Them Not to Answer ([Location 3063](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3063)) - **Paraphrase for Clarity** - **Paraphrasing is when you express to the other person, in your own words, your understanding of what they are saying.** ([Location 3074](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3074)) - First, **paraphrasing gives you a chance to check your understanding.** ([Location 3076](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3076)) - Second, **paraphrasing lets the other person know they’ve been heard.** ([Location 3079](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3079)) - **Acknowledge Their Feelings** - Answer the Invisible Questions ([Location 3122](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3122)) - **Why is acknowledgment so important? Because attached to each expression of feelings is a set of invisible questions: “Are my feelings okay?” “Do you understand them?” “Do you care about them?” “Do you care about me?”** These questions are important, and we have trouble moving on in the conversation until we know the answers. Taking time to acknowledge the other person’s feelings says loud and clear that the answer to each question is yes. ([Location 3123](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3123)) - How to Acknowledge ([Location 3126](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3126)) - ==**Order Matters: Acknowledge Before Problem-Solving**== - Whether they say it or not, **often people need some acknowledgment of feelings before they can move on to the “What Happened?” Conversation.** ([Location 3140](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3140)) - Too often in difficult conversations and with the best of intentions, we skip right to problem-solving without acknowledging, and the loss is significant. ([Location 3141](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3141)) - **Acknowledging Is Not Agreeing** - While you may not agree with the substance of what the other person is saying, you can still acknowledge the importance of their feelings. ([Location 3151](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3151)) - **A Final Thought: Empathy Is a Journey, Not a Destination** - ==**The deepest form of understanding another person is empathy.** Empathy involves a shift from my observing how you seem on the outside, to my imagining what it feels like to be you on the inside, wrapped in your skin with your set of experiences and background, and looking out at the world through your eyes.== ([Location 3165](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3165)) - ==As an empathetic listener, you are on a journey with a direction but no destination. **You will never “arrive.” You will never be able to say, “I truly understand you.”**== ([Location 3168](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3168)) #### 10. Expression: Speak for Yourself with Clarity and Power - Beginning from the Third Story is a productive way to open a conversation. Listening to the other person’s story with a real desire to learn what they are thinking and feeling is a crucial next step. But understanding them is rarely the end of the matter; the other person also needs to hear your story. You need to express yourself. ([Location 3175](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3175)) - **Orators Need Not Apply** - In a difficult conversation your primary task is not to persuade, impress, trick, outwit, convert, or win over the other person. It is to **express what you see and why you see it that way, how you feel, and maybe who you are.** ([Location 3181](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3181)) - In the first part of this chapter we take up the issue of entitlement. To communicate with clarity and power, **you must first negotiate yourself into a place where you truly believe that what you want to express is worthy of expression—a belief that your views and feelings are as important as anyone else’s.** Period. In the second part of the chapter, we look at how to figure out what you want to express and how you might best express it. ([Location 3184](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3184)) - **You’re Entitled (Yes, You)** - **==Failure to Express Yourself Keeps You Out of the Relationship==** - Often, to hide parts of who we are, we end up hiding all of who we are. And so we present a front that appears lifeless and removed. ([Location 3225](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3225)) - Expressing yourself can be difficult and trying, but it gives the relationship a chance to change and to become stronger. ([Location 3226](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3226)) - **A relationship takes hold and grows when both participants experience themselves and the other as being authentic.** Such relationships are both more comfortable (it’s more relaxing to be yourself) and nourishing to the soul (“My boss knows some of my vulnerabilities and still thinks I’m okay”). ([Location 3234](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3234)) - **Speak the Heart of the Matter** - **Start with What Matters Most** - **There’s no better place to begin your story than with what is at the very heart of the matter for you: “For me, what this is really about is …. What I’m feeling is …. What is important to me is ….”** ([Location 3245](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3245)) - ==**As you embark upon a difficult conversation, ask yourself, “Have I said what is at the heart of the matter for me? Have I shared what is at stake?”** If not, ask yourself why, and see if you can find the courage to try.== ([Location 3262](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3262)) - **Say What You Mean: Don’t Make Them Guess** - **Don’t Rely on Subtext.** ([Location 3266](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3266)) - To do better, you need to figure out what you are really thinking and feeling, and then say it directly: ([Location 3294](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3294)) - **Avoid Easing In.** A related and often destructive way to communicate through subtext is what Professor Chris Argyris of Harvard Business School has called easing in. Easing in is where you try to soften a message by delivering it indirectly through hints and leading questions. ([Location 3301](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3301)) - **Don’t Make Your Story Simplistic: Use the “Me-Me” And** - What’s going on in our heads is often a jumble of complex thoughts, feelings, assumptions, and perceptions. When we try to be simple, we often end up being incomplete. ([Location 3314](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3314)) - **Telling Your Story with Clarity: Three Guidelines** - **1. Don’t Present Your Conclusions as *The* Truth** - Share your conclusions and opinions as your conclusions and opinions and not as the truth. - **2. Share Where Your Conclusions Come From** - Share what’s beneath your conclusions—the information you have and how you have interpreted it. ([Location 3358](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3358)) - **3. Don’t Exaggerate with “Always” and “Never”: Give Them Room to Change** - The key is to communicate your feelings in a way that invites and encourages the recipient to consider new ways of behaving, rather than suggesting they’re a schmuck and it’s too bad there’s nothing they can do about it. ([Location 3387](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3387)) - **Help Them Understand You** - **Ask Them to Paraphrase Back** - Paraphrasing the other person helps you check your understanding and helps them know you’ve heard. You can ask them to do the same thing for you: **“Let me check to see if I’m being clear. Would you mind just playing back what you’ve heard me say so far?”** ([Location 3399](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3399)) - **Ask How They See It Differently—and Why** - ==**The secret of powerful expression is recognizing that you are the ultimate authority on you.** You are an expert on what you think, how you feel, and why you’ve come to this place.== ([Location 3411](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3411)) #### 11. Problem-Solving: Take the Lead - **Skills for Leading the Conversation** - **If your conversations are going to get anywhere, you’re going to have to take the lead.** ([Location 3424](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3424)) - **When the other person heads in a destructive direction, reframing puts the conversation back on course.** It allows you to translate unhelpful statements into helpful ones. ([Location 3427](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3427)) - **Listening is not only the skill that lets you into the other person’s world; it is also the single most powerful move you can make to keep the conversation constructive.** ([Location 3428](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3428)) - And naming the dynamic is useful when you want to address a troubling aspect of the conversation. It is a particularly good strategy if the other person is dominating the conversation and seems unwilling to follow your lead. ([Location 3429](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3429)) - **Reframe, Reframe, Reframe** - **Reframing means taking the essence of what the other person says and “translating it” into concepts that are more helpful—specifically, concepts from the Three Conversations framework.** ([Location 3432](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3432)) - In a way, it's translating the words of the other person into something more true and useful. - You Can Reframe: - ![[Pasted image 20231011074330.png|350]] - **It’s Always the Right Time to Listen** - No matter how good you get at reframing, the single most important rule about managing the interaction is this: **==You can’t move the conversation in a more positive direction until the other person feels heard and understood. And they won’t feel heard and understood until you’ve listened.==** ([Location 3508](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3508)) - **Name the Dynamic: Make the Trouble Explicit** - These kind of diagnoses, and suggestions, sound like this: I’ve noticed that we keep running out of time whenever we start talking about this. Maybe we should designate an hour when we can both really focus on this and address it then. ([Location 3552](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3552)) - Naming the dynamic between you can be enormously helpful in clearing the air. It draws what you are each really thinking and feeling but not saying onto the table for honest discussion. And it can stop frustrating interactions in their tracks. ([Location 3565](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3565)) - **Now What? Begin to Problem-Solve** - **Fundamentally, problem-solving consists of gathering information and testing your perceptions, creating options that would meet both sides’ primary concerns, and, where you can’t, trying to find fair ways to resolve the difference.** ([Location 3574](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3574)) - Say What Is Still Missing. ([Location 3601](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3601)) - Say What Would Persuade You. ([Location 3605](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3605)) - Ask What (If Anything) Would Persuade Them. ([Location 3609](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3609)) - Ask Their Advice. ([Location 3612](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3612)) - Invent Options ([Location 3617](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3617)) - Ask What Standards Should Apply ([Location 3631](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3631)) - Generally the best way to manage conflict in a way that safeguards a relationship is to look for standards or fair principles to guide a resolution, rather than trying to haggle with or intimidate the other person. ([Location 3631](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3631)) - The Principle of Mutual Caretaking. ([Location 3638](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3638)) - A good resolution will usually require each party to accommodate somewhat to the other’s differences, or perhaps to reciprocate—going one way on some issues and the other way on others. This is the principle of mutual caretaking. ([Location 3643](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3643)) - If You Still Can’t Agree, Consider Your Alternatives ([Location 3645](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3645)) - If you are going to walk away without agreeing, you need two things. - First, you need to explain why you are walking away. What interests and concerns are not met by the solutions you’ve been discussing? ([Location 3651](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3651)) - Second, you need to be willing to accept the consequences. ([Location 3658](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3658)) - **It Takes Time** - **==Most difficult conversations are not, in actuality, a single conversation. They are a series of exchanges and explorations that happen over time.==** ([Location 3664](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3664)) #### 12. Putting It All Together - **Step One: Prepare by Walking Through the Three Conversations** - Jack’s Preparation Notes: - ![[Pasted image 20231017073258.png|350]] - ![[Pasted image 20231017073312.png|350]] - **Step Two: Check Your Purposes and Decide Whether to Raise It** - **Step Three: Start from the Third Story** - **Step Four: Explore Their Story and Yours** - **Step Five: Problem-Solving** - **==A Difficult Conversations Checklist==**: - **Step 1: Prepare by Walking Through the Three Conversations** 1. Sort out **What Happened**. - Where does your story come from (information, past experiences, rules)? Theirs? - What impact has this situation had on you? - What might their intentions have been? - What have you each contributed to the problem? 2. Understand **Emotions**. - Explore your emotional footprint, and the bundle of emotions you experience. 3. Ground Your **Identity**. 1. What’s at stake for you about you? - **Step 2: Check Your Purposes and Decide Whether to Raise the Issue** - **Purposes**: What do you hope to accomplish by having this conversation? Shift your stance to support learning, sharing, and problem-solving. - **Deciding**: Is this the best way to address the issue and achieve your purposes? Is the issue really embedded in your Identity Conversation? Can you affect the problem by changing your contributions? If you don’t raise it, what can you do to help yourself let go? - **Step 3: Start from the Third Story** 1. Describe the problem as the **difference** between your stories. Include both viewpoints as a legitimate part of the discussion. 2. Share your **purposes**. 3. **Invite** them to join you as a partner in sorting out the situation together. - Step 4: Explore Their Story and Yours - **Listen to understand** their perspective on what happened. Ask questions. Acknowledge the feelings behind the arguments and accusations. Paraphrase to see if you’ve got it. Try to unravel how the two of you got to this place. - **Share your own viewpoint**, your past experiences, intentions, feelings. - **Reframe, reframe, reframe** to keep on track. From truth to perceptions, blame to contribution, accusations to feelings, and so on. - **Step 5: Problem-Solving** - Invent **options** that meet each side’s most important concerns and interests. - Look to **standards** for what should happen. Keep in mind the standard of mutual caretaking; relationships that always go one way rarely last. - Talk about how to keep **communication** open as you go forward. #### TEN QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK ABOUT DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS - 1. It sounds like you’re saying everything is relative. Aren’t some things just true, and can’t someone simply be wrong? ([Location 3991](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3991)) - Facts aren’t relative, but they can be hard to pin down ([Location 3997](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=3997)) - To make conversations productive, especially in a context of strong emotion, high stakes, and complex perceptions, a critical first step is to distinguish clearly between facts on the one hand, and opinions, assumptions, values, interests, predictions, and judgments on the other. That your five-year-old threw his dinner on the floor is a fact; whether and how he should be disciplined is a judgment. ([Location 4002](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4002)) - Facts can be clarified, verified, and measured, though sometimes even facts are hard to pin down. ([Location 4007](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4007)) - Moreover, when memory is a factor, the level of uncertainty increases dramatically. ([Location 4010](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4010)) - Not all stories are equal, but it takes a learning conversation to find out ([Location 4018](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4018)) - To be clear, we are not saying that all interpretations and stories are equal. Some interpretations are more reasonable than others, or at least are likely to seem so to most people. ([Location 4023](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4023)) - Some stories reflect a more complete understanding of a given situation—that is, they take account of more of the available information. Others rely on fewer or less extreme assumptions, or on assumptions that are more closely tied in time or place to the situation at hand. Still others have fewer logical leaps or internal contradictions. ([Location 4025](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4025)) - When you think their view is “just plain wrong,” take a moment to re-examine your assumptions. There’s always a chance that they know something you don’t and there’s no downside to testing your own view and seeking to understand theirs. ([Location 4030](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4030)) - Whether or not some truths are absolute, as human beings our ability to perceive such truths is limited ([Location 4043](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4043)) - In this sense, the critical question is less whether there is absolute truth than whether and how well we can perceive it. Perhaps the only thing a human being can be truly sure of is that one can’t be completely sure. That is the realm of God, even if you don’t believe in God. ([Location 4062](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4062)) - This doesn’t mean we can’t argue with passion and conviction over issues about which we care deeply. But when we do so, we should avoid hubris and maintain some humility and respect. After all, even our own views sometimes change with time. Likewise, those who disagree with us are not necessarily bad or simpleminded, or people who have not thought the issue through. ([Location 4064](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4064)) - We can do better ([Location 4070](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4070)) - As divides grow larger and more passionate, good communication becomes more difficult and more important. ([Location 4077](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4077)) - The more passionate we are about the issues that matter most to us, the more likely we are to have a cartoonish view of those who see things differently. ([Location 4082](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4082)) - 2. What if the other person really does have bad intentions—lying, bullying, or intentionally derailing the conversation to get what they want? ([Location 4089](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4089)) - We can’t know for sure what is motivating another person. What feels deliberate and strategically intentional to us may be a hotheaded emotional reaction in response to a trigger we’re unaware of, or an unthinking response by someone at the limits of their ability to stay constructive. Surprisingly often, an “obvious” and self-serving lie turns out to be a person’s actual belief. ([Location 4090](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4090)) - 3. What if the other person is genuinely difficult, perhaps even mentally ill? ([Location 4174](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4174)) - 4. How does this work with someone who has all the power—like my boss? ([Location 4302](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4302)) - 5. If I’m the boss / parent, why can’t I just tell my sub ordinates / children what to do? ([Location 4402](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4402)) - 6. Isn’t this a very American approach? How does it work in other cultures? ([Location 4477](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4477)) - 7. What about conversations that aren’t face-to-face? What should I do differently if I’m on the phone or e-mail? ([Location 4547](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4547)) - 8. Why do you advise people to “bring feelings into the workplace”? I’m not a therapist, and shouldn’t business decisions be made on the merits? ([Location 4625](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4625)) - 9. Who has time for all this in the real world? ([Location 4717](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4717)) - We’re already spending time and energy dwelling on it. Unresolved conflict in our work and personal relationships sucks up energy and attention in sneaky ways that we often don’t take account of. ([Location 4729](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4729)) - How we’re spending our time is actually making it worse. ([Location 4733](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4733)) - Instead, aim energy in useful and efficient directions. Given that we’re already dwelling on the problem, we might as well use that time and energy in ways that will help rather than hurt. ([Location 4740](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4740)) - 10. My identity conversation keeps getting stuck in either-or: I’m perfect or I’m horrible. I can’t seem to get past that. What can I do? ([Location 4765](https://readwise.io/to_kindle?action=open&asin=B08HW7XCKV&location=4765))