The most useful book I’ve ever read (and some personal info)

For someone who’s loved social media since the birth of myspace, I am weirdly protective about what information I put online — so it’s VERY unusual that I just said all this stuff publicly, where literally anyone with an internet connection can listen.

Just over a decade ago, I watched the documentary “Terms and Conditions May Apply” and it FREAKED ME OUT. The cliff notes are: most data companies can and will hand over your details to the governments if asked, then if the US, Canadian or UK governments decide what you wrote is problematic and then chuck you in prison for charges of “terr0rism” they don’t have to explain why. I’m not enough of a rebel to be doing anything that dangerous, but I go to protests, I call my representatives, I am politically active enough that I don’t feel TOTALLY safe from some authoritative future government trawling through my online history and finding something I said or did wanting.

In order to build trust with your audience (social followers, potential clients, readers of the Yes Yes blog like you), they have to feel a personal connection to you. Thanks to storytelling, this online secrecy of mine hasn’t actually been problematic; a wonderful thing about storytelling is it’s a great way of getting across who you are without actually giving away any of your personal information. In that decade since I saw the movie, I’ve often met people who’ve followed me on socials and have told me they feel like they know me (or often, just started a conversation with me as if we’re old friends, even thought I know little to nothing about them)(for the record, I LOVE WHEN THIS HAPPENS). And what’s interesting is how little these people know about the machinations of my life; my “action scene” style of storytelling has got across a sense of who I am as a person without my having to give specifics about who my family is, how I interact with them and so on.

HOWEVER. When my friend Iggy Perillo asked me to come on her podcast and talk about my favourite non-fiction book…I knew some DEEPLY personal stuff was going to come out.

The book is Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Stone, Patton and Heen. I literally re-read this book once a year (which means I’ve now read it about seven times). Every time I do, I get something out of it. It’s no hyperbole to say that this book has changed my life.

It comes out of the Harvard Negotiation Project — so, while I love a “this is my journey,” fluffy self-help book, this is not one. There’s apparently a copy on the NASA space station, and one iteration of The Wh!te H0use* where it was required reading for every staff member. Iggy’s podcast is called “Books Applied” and when she asked if I’d talk about this book on it (because she loves it too)… I did the email equivalent of practically biting her arm off to say yes!

*btw I’m doing all these weird numbers on the words I’m worried will get caught on your spam filter!!

SO, here’s a slightly annoying thing:

In order to explain many of the books excellent points, I wanted to tell a story. It had to be a personal story, because I don’t want to air other people’s business. But… *because stories about difficult conversations inevitably involve other people, I had to be a bit vague on some of the details. If you need names and specified relationships to enjoy this sort of thing, you’ll be disappointed. But if you get your gossip fix from hearing about DRAMA in other people’s lives even without the specifics, you are in luck!!!

Here are some of the things Iggy and I talked about in this podcast episode:

  • What my style of difficult conversation was before I read the book: “Here’s all the things you’ve done wrong and here’s all the things you need to do differently.” WEIRDLY this was not effective. Iggy’s way of putting it was “Here’s how I’m going to win the conversation!”
  • How all the ways your conversations are going badly right now are *not your fault*
  • What to do when you’re in a conflict impasse
  • One time when I thought I was COMPLETELY in the right and the other person was COMPLETELY in the wrong… then I tried the tactics from the book and it changed everything
  • What’s happening in your brain when you have a white hot fury response
  • Why you shouldn’t “give them hell” (even if it feels GREAT for about five minutes) and what to do instead)
  • How this book shifted EVERYTHING for both of us
  • Then, towards the end, Iggy straight-up blows my mind with her thoughts on compassion for ourselves verses compassion for other people and how this affects conflict in our relationships

Wanna listen?

You can find the Books Applied podcast here, with links to any platform you use to listen

 

What about you? Have you improved how you navigate difficult conversations and conflict? What’s changed? Any hot tips? Or if you listen to the podcast episode, I’d LOVE to know if you found it helpful (or at least… juicy). Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks so much for reading (and maybe for listening!) If you know anyone who has a difficult conversation coming up, or is struggling with conflict right now, you can share this with them using one of the little round buttons below.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

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