What is difficult conversation?

Difficult conversations operate at the core of our being - where the people and the principles we care about most intersect with our self-image and self-esteem.

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. Self-knowledge and the belief that what you want to share is important will take you significantly further than eloquence and wit.

This is unfortunately all too typical of many difficult conversations. We say the least important things, sometimes over and over again, and wonder why the other person doesn't realize what we really think and how we really feel.

--Douglas Stone + Bruce Patton + Sheila Heen