Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

 
 

Book aims at solving conflict

 

January 27, 2011



Sixty copies of the book "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" have circulated throughout Haines in recent weeks.

"Difficult Conversations," first printed more than a decade ago, was written by the Harvard Negotiation Project.

Resident Debra Schnabel said the book was given away at a November Christmas bazaar. She is part of a group of locals who supported the book purchases to improve communication in Haines.

"The idea was we were just going to get them out into the community, and then people would hopefully read them and pass them on," Schnabel said.

She said the group of around a dozen people has met on Thursdays and does not yet have an official name. "We want to be a resource for as many people as possible," she said. The book also is available at the Haines Borough Public Library.

The book includes chapter titles such as "Stop Arguing About Who’s Right: Explore Each Other’s Stories."

"Difficult Conversations" also instructs readers, "When blame is the goal, understanding is the casualty;" and "Remember, you can’t change other people."

Resident Cindy Buxton said, "We’re always going to have hard conversations, but what this book does is give us some hints and some techniques that we can use to keep those conversations civil and focused on resolving the issue."

She said "Difficult Conversations" can help polarized groups use communication to "end up with better answers to our problems than if we just yell at each other."

"If I was going to talk to somebody about this book, I would talk about the fact that we all have difficult conversations with friends or family or neighbors or bosses, and there’s no way of getting rid of those conversations in our life," said resident Cindy Buxton, who read the book a few months ago.

"We’re always going to have those hard conversations, but what this book does is give us some hints and some techniques that we can use to keep those conversations civil and focused on resolving the issue."

She said "Difficult Conversations" can help polarized groups use communication to "end up with better answers to our problems, than if we just yell at each other."

"I think we’ve all had converations that were over some minor, little disagreement that escalated into something really ugly or uncomfortable, because we used the wrong words or used the wrong tone of voice or something, and you don’t end up with anything good coming out of that," Buxton said.