Skip links

Difficult Conversations: Harvard Business Review 20 Minute Manager

Difficult Conversations: Harvard Business Review 20 Minute Manager


Differences and disagreements are ok. They are often the catalyst for change and creativity. Indeed, the Chinese symbol for conflict is danger and opportunity. If you can learn to disagree well you can grow and flourish.  I know having difficult conversations is not much fun and often so hard to do.  But this simple, practical book  has helped many of people I know have the difficult conversations they need to have and is one they return to over and over.

In plain and simple language, peppered with realistic examples this slim volume takes the reader through the process needed to have that conversation that they’ve been putting off. It’s often an issue they want to raise really badly, with a colleague or their manager, the sort of problem that often ends up months later in mediation. But as a mediator I know if disagreements are  nipped in the bud early and addressed the right way they can lead to learning for both parties and a better future relationship.

Difficult Conversations enables the reader to identify what makes the conversation difficult – be it a conflict of interests; different styles;  different perspectives;  lack of trust. The reader is then invited to analyse why they need to have the conversation and indeed if they need to have it all. If the answer is yes then is the time to prepare.

It shows how to separate the facts from assumptions – after all this is only your perspective on the issue; consider the importance of emotions yours and theirs – you won’t be having this conversation alone! Identify a range of positive outcomes – you want to come out with.  Finally it helps to consider the when and where. A time that suits both people, in a private place and preferably on neutral ground.

Only then can you have that all important conversation. Do let me know how you get on?

I often come across books that help me in my work. I thought I’d start sharing a some of the best. Do share your thoughts.

Leave a comment