YAPClassic: Sheila Heen on Difficult Conversations and How to Discuss What Matters Most

YAPClassic: Sheila Heen on Difficult Conversations and How to Discuss What Matters Most

YAPClassic: Sheila Heen on Difficult Conversations and How to Discuss What Matters Most

“Hey, we need to talk…” — if these words scare you, trust that you’re not alone!

Whether we’re dealing with an underperforming employee, upset with our spouse, or facing issues with a difficult client, we attempt to avoid difficult conversations every day. Healthy relationships are built around communication and transparency, so learning how to navigate tough conversations with less stress and more success can help optimize our relationships.


Today we’re talking to Sheila Heen, professor at Harvard Law School and author of one of the most popular psychology books ever created, Difficult Conversations. In the book, Sheila outlines how to navigate tense and emotionally-charged conversations, something we all have to deal with in our lives at one point or another.


Tune in to learn the three layers of difficult conversations and how to overcome each one of them, as well as the benefit of telling a third story to start your discussions off on the right foot. You’ll also learn how to enhance the skill of receiving feedback by understanding the common initial reactions we all have when receiving negative feedback and how to deal with them in a positive way.


Topics Include:

– Getting involved in the Harvard Negotiation Project

– Writing Difficult Conversations

– How has Difficult Conversations been used since its publication?

– Why did she write Thanks For The Feedback?

– What is a difficult conversation?

– Why do we avoid difficult conversations?

– The danger of avoiding difficult conversations

– Three layers of difficult conversations

– Lessening blame and accusatory language

– Exploring our emotional patterns

– Anger is a secondary feeling

– Reducing angry reactivity

– Naming emotions vs. being emotional

– Starting from the third story

– Why do we have an issue receiving negative feedback?

– Different types of triggers

– Traits of people who are highly sensitive to feedback

– Dealing with triggers and reactions

– And other topics…


Sheila Heen is a founder of Triad Consulting Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping companies of all sizes improve their leadership, collaboration, and conflict management skills. Her clients include BAE Systems, HSBC, the Federal Reserve Bank, Merck, and the Bank of South Africa. She has spent 20 years with the Harvard Negotiation Project and she is the author of two bestselling books, Difficult Conversations and Thanks For The Feedback.


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