I once knew an executive who was fond of saying, “If I haven’t convinced you I’m right, it’s because I’ve been too nice.” It was a twist on the popular confrontation technique of “If you don’t understand what I’m saying, I’ll just say it more forcefully.”

Both statements register a level of frustration where, if we’re not careful, conversations can become confrontations. People reach their boiling point every day, but confrontations don’t make for successful Truth Talks, or much else, for that matter.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, depictions of torture on prime-time television increased nearly 700 percent. Americans were scared, angry, and deeply frustrated that we weren’t getting the ...

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