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Inside this book
Asking for a raise. Ending a relationship. Giving a critical performance review. Saying no to someone in need. Confronting disrespectful or hurtful behavior. Disagreeing with the majority in a group. Apologizing. At work, at home, and across the backyard fence, difﬁcult conversations are attempted or avoided every day.
A Difficult Conversation Is Anything You Find It Hard to Talk About
Sexuality, race, gender, politics, and religion come quickly to mind as difﬁcult topics to discuss, and for many of us they are. But discomfort and awkwardness are not limited to topics on the editorial page. Anytime we feel vulnerable or our self-esteem is implicated, when the issues at stake are important and the outcome uncertain, when we care deeply about what is being discussed or about the people with whom we are discussing it, there is potential for us to experience the conversation as difﬁcult. We all have conversations that we dread and ﬁnd unpleasant, that we avoid or face up to like bad medicine:
One of the senior engineers at your company, an old friend, has become a liability. Management has picked you to ﬁre him. You overheard your mother-in-law telling a neighbor that your sons are spoiled and undisciplined. As you prepare to spend the holidays at her house, you’re not sure the two of you can get through the week without a confrontation. The project you are working on took twice as long as you told the client it would. You can’t afford not to bill for the extra time, but you dread informing the client.
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