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Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone
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Difficult Conversations Quotes Showing 1-30 of 178
“The single most important thing [you can do] is to shift [your] internal stance from "I understand" to "Help me understand." Everything else follows from that. . . .

Remind yourself that if you think you already understand how someone feels or what they are trying to say, it is a delusion. Remember a time when you were sure you were right and then discovered one little fact that changed everything. There is always more to learn.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“People almost never change without first feeling understood.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“The urge to blame is based . . . on the fear of being blamed.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Often we go through an entire conversation – or indeed an entire relationship – without ever realizing that each of us is paying attention to different things, that our views are based on different information.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Depending on how we handle them, feelings can lead to great trouble. But the feelings themselves just are. In that sense, feelings are like arms or legs. If you hit or kick someone, then your arms or legs are causing trouble. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with arms or legs. The same with feelings.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Paradoxically, there is also considerable persuasion power in inquiry and listening.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“intentions are invisible. We assume them from other people’s behavior. In other words, we make them up, we invent them. But our invented stories about other people’s intentions are accurate much less often than we think. Why? Because people’s intentions, like so much else in difficult conversations, are complex. Sometimes people act with mixed intentions. Sometimes they act with no intention, or at least none related to us. And sometimes they act on good intentions that nonetheless hurt us. Because”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Learning that you can’t control the other person’s reaction, and that it can be destructive to try, can be incredibly liberating. It not only gives the other person the space to react however they need to, but also takes a huge amount of pressure off you. You will learn things about yourself based on their reaction, but if you are prepared to learn, you’ll feel free from the desperate need for their reaction to go one certain way.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Imagine that while scuba diving, you suddenly see a shark glide into view. Your heart starts to pound and your anxiety skyrockets. You’re terrified, which is a perfectly rational and understandable feeling. Now imagine that your marine biology training enables you to identify it as a Reef Shark, which you know doesn’t prey on anything as large as you. Your anxiety disappears. Instead you feel excited and curious to observe the shark’s behavior.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“get curious about what you don’t know about yourself.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Our Assumptions About Intentions Are Often Wrong”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Interpretations and judgments are important to explore. In contrast, the quest to determine who is right and who is wrong is a dead end. In”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“No matter how good you get at reframing, the single most important rule about managing the interaction is this: You can’t move the conversation in a more positive direction until the other person feels heard and understood. And they won’t feel heard and understood until you’ve listened. When the other person becomes highly emotional, listen and acknowledge. When they say their version of the story is the only version that makes sense, paraphrase what you’re hearing and ask them some questions about why they think this. If they level accusations against you, before defending yourself, try to understand their view. Whenever you feel overwhelmed or unsure how to proceed, remember that it is always a good time to listen.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Because when we set out to try to change someone, we are more likely to argue with and attack their story and less likely to listen. This approach increases the likelihood that they will feel defensive rather than open to learning something new. They are more likely to change if they think we understand them and if they feel heard and respected. They are more likely to change if they feel free not to.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“We don’t care where the ball lands, as long as it doesn’t land on us.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“difficult conversations do not just involve feelings, they are at their very core about feelings.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“The truth is, intentions are invisible. We assume them from other people’s behavior. In other words, we make them up, we invent them. But”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Simply by changing your own behavior, you gain at least some influence over the problem.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Working to keep negative information out during a difficult conversation is like trying to swim without getting wet.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Talking successfully about feelings requires you to be scrupulous about taking the judgments, attributions, and statements of blame out of what you are saying, and putting the statement of feeling in. It is crucial to look at the actual words you are using to see whether those words really convey what you want them to. For”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“In truth, we are all fast and slow, strong and weak, motivated and lazy in a thousand tiny ways throughout our days that the generalizations simply don’t capture.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“The point is this: difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Telling someone to change makes it less rather than more likely that they will.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“When competent, sensible people do something stupid, the smartest move is to try to figure out, first, what kept them from seeing it coming and, second, how to prevent the problem from happening again. Talking”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“We Ignore the Complexity of Human Motivations”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Studies show that while few people are good at detecting factual lies, most of us can determine when someone is distorting, manufacturing, or withholding an emotion.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Because good listening requires an open and honest curiosity about the other person, and a willingness and ability to keep the spotlight on them. Buried emotions draw the spotlight back to us. Instead of wondering, “How does what they are saying make sense?”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Sometimes life deals us a blow that we can’t cope with on our own. What constitutes such a blow is different for each of us. It may be something as undermining as rape or as horrifying as war. It may be a physical or mental illness, an addiction, or a profound loss. Or it may be something that would not disturb most other people but does disturb you. We sometimes ascribe valor to those who suffer in silence. But when suffering is prolonged or interferes with accomplishing what we want with our lives, then such suffering may be more reckless than brave. Whatever it is, if you’ve worked to get over it and can’t, we encourage you to ask for help. From friends, from colleagues, from family, from professionals. From anyone who might be able to offer a hand.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
“Control is the unilateral ability to make something happen. Influence is the ability to affect someone else’s thinking.”
Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

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