hand holding books

Here are 3 essential books that you need to add to your reading list if you are looking for sound advice on how to manage difficult conversations (and people).

I personally have all three books and regularly recommend them to our clients, particularly when they are struggling with conflict situations at work or difficult conversations they know they need to have. If this sounds like you and you need guidance on managing difficult conversations, look no further than these 3 must-reads to get you started.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high

a book to help manage difficult conversationsThis book gives you the tools to handle life’s most difficult and important conversations. If you read this book, you will learn how to:

  • Prepare for high-stakes situations
  • Transform your anger and hurt feelings (and others) into powerful dialogue
  • Make it safe to talk about almost anything
  • Be persuasive, not abrasive.

With 4.6 stars and over 7,000 reviews on Amazon, it’s no surprise that this book is a top choice if you want to know how to manage difficult conversations. It has thousands of great reviews (see a few below) and it provides practical, easy to follow steps to help you handle emotionally charged conversations. In a nutshell, this book will help you to be both honest and respectful in difficult situations. It will help you to not avoid conversations you need to have and to listen and say what needs to be said in a way that the other person can hear it without becoming defensive. You can buy the book here.

“A practical tool for people management.” “A must-have for anyone that has a hard time having hard talks without getting emotionally escalated. It explains why we react this way and how to manage our emotions effectively.” “For anyone who thinks there is a scope of improvement in any relationship that they have as a manager, a subordinate, a client, a parent or even as a sibling, this is a must-read! It carefully takes you through the process of self-awareness on what may be our flaws in communicating to how to strive for better, fulfilling and win-win conversations.”



Start working on your own career progression. Why not sign up to receive my weekly tips here and you’ll find out what you need to be working on in your career development (and how to make the time for your career development) to progress your career in your firm.




Crucial Confrontations: Tools for resolving broken promises, violated expectations and bad behaviour.

a book about managing difficult conversationsAs the follow-up book to Crucial Conversations by Tom Peters, Crucial Confrontations builds on and references many of the principles in the earlier work but introduces new insights and skills to challenge your thinking. Boiled down to its essentials, the methodology consists of:

  • focusing on facts,
  • remaining calm,
  • listening to the other person with respect
  • and working to motivate the other person and to enable a change in behaviour.

Although confrontation is difficult for many people, it is often necessary. Failure to confront someone over bad behaviour may be misinterpreted as approval. With that being said, however, confrontations can get off track and turn into shouting matches, so this is where this book really helps. Crucial Confrontations teaches you skills for enhancing accountability, execution and resolution. It shows you how confrontations can help bring people back to a better, more productive course (and how you can make sure that each one does just that).

“Great way of learning objection handling techniques. Moving into a new role at work this book really helped me.” “This is an essential tool for any person who has to deal with issues at work or at home. It gives a real insight into methods of communication that work and don’t work and has helped me to manage more effectively” “A fantastic book for business leaders, HR professionals and line managers great for reflection on life and management styles. Enjoy.” “The book is light, anecdotal and easy to read. Yet, we find that it offers so much sound advice that any manager, parent or spouse could find something useful.”  You can buy the book here.

Assertiveness at work: A practical guide to handling difficult situations

a book to help manage difficult conversationsThis book tackles the realities of modern business life, the uncomfortable situations that can arise with flatter structures, tough workloads, demanding hours, and the need to exert influence across traditional boundaries. In these situations, successful people need assertiveness in order to achieve their goals. Whether you are a line manager, project leader, specialist, or key member of a team, this book gives practical guidance for developing your own natural assertiveness to benefit both yourself and your organisation.

“The great thing about how this book is written is the practical advice you can start to apply straight away. All the scenes described are recognisable and you’ll find yourself thinking that’s exactly what I’ve just been through, how should I have dealt with it? If you feel you are overworked because you say yes too often, this is a great book. (That was my problem.)” “Out of all the books I have read and use as a coach, this is the one I have most often recommended to clients. When I ran a workshop based on what I had learned from the book it was one of the most emotional sessions, for clients, that they had ever experienced. It is a textbook. It is easy to read. The definitions proposed by the authors make a lot of sense. There are also illustrative examples to help you practise your understanding. Probably the most important lesson is that assertiveness can be learned. You do not have to be aggressive to get a hearing.”  You can buy this book here.

Stop avoiding having difficult conversations

Which difficult conversation have you been procrastinating about lately?  Nobody relishes having to have a difficult conversation but there are times when they just need to happen.  

I am sure plenty of you, like me, try to put them off!

If you want to show you are “one to watch” and a candidate for partner track, it’s vital to master being able to have difficult conversations in a mature and unemotional way.

Difficult conversations are a part of life and they are needed to progress and improve in the workplace. If you avoid them, the worse they will become and the consequences could be irreparable. Instead of avoiding, try to become proactive with conflict management. Read these books, scroll through our plethora of articles, and practice managing those difficult conversations. After all, practice makes perfect. 

Start working on your own career progression. Why not sign up to receive my weekly tips here and you’ll find out what you need to be working on in your career development (and how to make the time for your career development) to progress your career in your firm.

We have a great course in Progress to Partner Academy called “How to give negative feedback to people who matter, without it being a career-limiting move.”.

It’s a great course that will give you the confidence and tools to give negative, constructive or developmental feedback to clients, partners, team members and people working on your jobs.

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