Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen teach at the Harvard Law School and work with the Harvard Negotiation Project, the group responsible for the international bestseller Getting to Yes (1981). They believe that behind every difficult conversation are issues of blame, unexpressed feelings, and perceived threats to our identity or self-image. In this helpful and healing work, the authors present ways "to turn the damaging battle of warring messages into the more constructive approach we call a learning conversation."
In difficult conversations in the home, at work, or in the marketplace, one of the major ways of avoiding conflict is to stop arguing about who's right and to focus instead upon each other's stories. Or as the authors put it, "When blame is the goal, understanding is the casualty." In any dispute with another, it is imperative to come to terms with our feelings and those of the other person. This is part of what it means to be an empathetic listener. The art of reframing also comes in handy whenever we want to discuss what matters most. The skills discussed in this excellent book can be developed by anyone interested in enriching their interactions with other human beings.