Understand that conversations are made up of three sub-conversations. Address these conversations directly as you prepare. What happened? What are my feelings and why? How does this affect my identity? Then, consider whether the conversation is necessary at all. If you decide to have a conversation, start with a “third story” account rather than your own. Listen deeply and genuinely. Explore the two accounts of the story and try to reframe the situation to make your partner feel heard. Try and problem-solve together to find ways to prevent conflict from happening in the future.
About the Author
Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen are professors at Harvard Law School and at the Harvard Negotiation Project. They have worked as consultants for businesspeople, governments, organizations, communities, and people all around the world. They have written on negotiation and communication in the New York Times and Parents magazine. Patton is also the co-author of Getting to Yes and Stone and Heen are authors of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well.