Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

A Difficult Book

So our CEO gave everyone this book called, Difficult Conversations last week and there have been all kinds of jokes about the book going on around the office. No one likes being told what to read or what can help them, I guess.

But everyone got a copy in their mail, and I, wordaholic that I am, started reading it just 'cause it was in front of me.

It was hard to read.

Mostly because the examples they had in the book probably reflected every difficult, argumentative and hard conversation I've had in my life. It was oddly a relief to know that everyone has these kinds of conversations and has them blow up so completely, and also oddly stressful and terrifying, in some ways, to read these things because of all the hooks they had into old conversations that I never felt that good about. The first third of the book was incredibly hard for me to read.

Until I hit the 'know your tendency' bit about some folks tend to blame others and other folks tend to soak up blame. I suddenly tied in the fact that I really, truly soak up blame partially because I believe that if I know that I was at fault then I can do something about it in the future. But I realize, now, that I nearly always go too far in that, especially when I'm talking with someone who really tends to want to blame others. I knew it in vague ways before it was stated so plainly, but now it's pretty damned clear.

It was odd to realize that and realize that a lot of my discomfort in reading this stuff was because I was going back to all those old conversations and thinking, "Damn... I fucked that up..." and at the same time I was also thinking, "Why do *I* have to do all the work all the time?" add to that all the old emotions of "But I can't care so much when I get hurt so badly." With the additional information, it was clear that while I have made mistakes, it isn't up to me to fix them *all* and I can't go back in time and I can do better with the people that really do care to listen to me and that lifted the worst of the reaction. Whew.

I've always thought arguments were pointless, and I've realized in the past that on the most part, whenever I've been in a strenuous argument with anyone all it does is harden each person in their position. I always thought it was just human nature and always felt kind of sick and guilty about fighting, but never really figured out *why*. This book finally gave me the key as to *why*. There are far more important and interesting things to figure out in a conversation with someone than who is 'right' or 'wrong' or 'to blame'... and it was really cool to get a concrete feeling as to why and exactly what those more useful, constructive things are and why there are so many people I really enjoy talking with. Whew.

I also realized why I actually have no problems even talking about sometimes delicate stuff with most people, but there have been three or four people that have made me feel like it was all my fault that we couldn't seem to talk about anything without a fight. While I did do stuff to escalate what was happening, it isn't just me, and it was especially important to me to figure out to really look at the fact that there are many other people that I am comfortable talking with and whom are very, very comfortable talking with me about stuff they never could talk about with anyone else. Balancing the reality of my relationships and interactions against how a few people decide to see me. But now I can see why they decided some of that, too. That was very cool to learn.

So I'd recommend this book to anyone that is terrified of talking to *someone* about something they don't want to hear.
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