Difficult Conversations

On this page you will find our recommendations of books, research articles, editorials, websites, movies, podcasts, and other media that we use in our research and work with Difficult Conversations.


  • Backman, J. (2012). Why Can't We Talk?: Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart. SkyLight Paths Publishing.
    • "Examine the obstacles that keep you from dialogue: black-and-white thinking, a “distraction lifestyle,” the fear of change and negative impressions from others. Explore the strength of character from which healthy dialogue springs—and the work of the soul that cultivates them. Learn practical guidelines for dialogue and how they work in an imperfect world. Encounter anecdotes of dialogue in action, from resolutions of interpersonal conflict to difficult dialogues on some of the most divisive issues of our age. Use provocative questions at the end of each chapter to stimulate group discussion and individual reflection."
  • Furr, G. (1998). The Dialogue of Worship: Creating Space for Revelation and Response. Smyth & Helwys Publishing.
    • "While exploring the nature and content of worship as a dialogue between God and the worshiping community and within the community, the authors of The Dialogue of Worship also discuss the role of music, planning, and a variety of settings for worship. This interdisciplinary approach is appropriate for anyone involved in planning, leading, or studying worship."
  • Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Switzler, A., & Maxfield, D. G. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw-Hill.
    • Crucial Conversations gives you the tools you need to step up to life's most difficult and important conversations, say what's on your mind, and achieve the positive resolutions you want. You'll learn how to: Prepare for high-impact situations with a six-minute mastery technique.
  • Schade, L. (2018). Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide. Rowman & Littlefield.
    • "A resource for helping the church understand the challenges facing parish pastors, while encouraging and equipping preachers to address the vital justice issues of our time. This book provides practical instruction for navigating the hazards of prophetic preaching with tested strategies and prudent tactics grounded in biblical and theological foundations. Key to this endeavor is using a method of civil discourse called “deliberative dialogue” for finding common values among politically diverse parishioners. Unique to this book is instruction on using the sermon-dialogue-sermon process developed by the author that expands the pastor’s level of engagement on justice issues with parishioners beyond the single sermon. This book equips clergy to help their congregations respectfully engage in deliberation about “hot topics,” find the values that bind them together, and respond faithfully to God’s Word."
  • Stone, D., Patton, B., Heen, S., & Fisher, R. (2010). Difficult conversations: How to discuss what matters most. Penguin Books.
    • Based on fifteen years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project, Difficult Conversations walks you through a step-by-step proven approach to having your toughest conversations with less stress and more success. You will learn how to start the conversation without defensiveness, why what is not said is as important as what is, ways of keeping and regaining your balance in the face of attacks and accusations, how to decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation. Filled with examples from everyday life, Difficult Conversations will help you on your job, at home, or out of the world. It is a book you will turn to again and again for advice, practical skills, and reassurance. 

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