Book Focus – Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most

If you want to learn more about how to handle difficult conversations then you can’t go wrong with Difficult Conversations: How To Handle What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. In this book you will learn about what difficult conversations are, what makes conversations difficult and how to handle difficult conversations by creating a learning conversation. This is not a simple book to read because it contains a lot of content (311 pages) but that does not diminish the quality of the content in the book. It is one of those books that you read through once and keep revisiting to reinforce the concepts taught in the book.

I have summarised one lesson from the book which identifies what makes conversations difficult.


How can this resource work with a virtual training session? You can use it to facilitate a blended bite-sized virtual session of 30-minutes or less.

To do this:

  • Send the summary poster to the delegates at least a week before the virtual session and tell them to read it befoe coming to the session.
  • Invite them to a 30-minute session on a platform such as Zoom or Teams.
  • During the session, split the delegates into small groups and tell them to discuss what they read in the summary.
  • After the group discussion ask each small group for feedback on what they discussed.
  • When they finish giving feedback, appreciate them for having the discussion.
  • Next, ask them a personal reflection question to identify how knowledge of the three conversations can help them better handle difficult conversations.
  • Allow people to answer either verabally or through the chat window and make sure you get a response from everyone.
  • After that, thank them and end the session.

As simple as that, resources like this can get a good virtual discussion going.

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