Several people have asked me to recommend books to them (particularly on the subject of business). What follows is my attempt to list out the books that have changed my life (some quite profoundly). 

 

Many of the books listed here might be found in the "self-improvement" sections of bookstores. At one point I maintained an aversion to this category of literature. However, I quickly learned in business school that understanding organizations begins with the process of understanding oneself. Each of the works mentioned below is founded upon strong scientific method with significant data.

 

 

The following books are very dear to me. If a book is unfamiliar to you, please learn more about it or reach out to me for more information.  Each is directly linked to Amazon for purchase. Enjoy.


 
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
By Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen
 

Difficult Conversations was first presented to me as an ancillary textbook for Negotiation, a class in business school. I skimmed it and it went on the shelf.

Perhaps a full year later, in the midst of a relationship problem, the title lept at me during a fleeting glance and proceeded to change the way I communicate with everyone in life.

At its core, Difficult Conversations proposes that every diffficult conversation can be reframed as three unique conversations, each of which must be addressed to resolve the matter at hand: 

  1. A contribution conversation,
  2. A feelings conversation, and 
  3. An identity conversation.

discussion of contribution replaces a discussion of blame (one decidedly more difficult to agree upon haha). Here, both parties attempt to find how he or she contributed to the problem at hand. Note: the definition of contribution  is expansive enough to include even the ways in which a victim allows himself or herself to be victimized.

However, contribution is never satisfying enough to replace blame. For this we require a discussion of feelings. Literally, each person says "I feel ___." It is stunning how hard it can be to say "I feel hurt" in lieu of "you are a jerk." The extent of this expression's catharsis can be equally stunning.

The first two conversations involve both parties, whereas the third conversation--the identity conversation--is one that the individual has with himself or herself. Conflicts often call into question many aspects of one's defintion of self. The three most common identity crises can be phrased as questions asked of oneself:

  1. Am I competent?
  2. Am I good?
  3. Am I worthy of being loved?

After this book, continue on to Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Crucial Accountability. Note: the "Crucial" series is by a different set of authors.