There are many books about conflict management, difficult conversations and negotiations: Getting Past No, Difficult Conversation, and even research institute such as Harvard Negotiation Project. While these are amazing resources, many of us may think that we are unlikely to have a need to know the knowledge presented in the books above on daily basis. And indeed in my daily life I've rarely used techniques from these books, and even forgot many of them. However recently I learned a good lesson - difficult conversations come unexpected.
I had to talk to someone quite high above me in the ranks to reverse a decision he made, and the meeting was schedule two days in advance. I needed to make a good case and sound convincing - i.e. carry out a negotiation.
In two days I could not learn basics of negotiation and the techniques that helped me. So at the time I had to have a difficult talk, I was glad that I've had read those books mentioned above. I was glad that I already knew those techniques, and preparing for a hard talk was not an unknown territory for me. Besides knowledge about negotiation techniques, reading the books mentioned above also gave me confidence that I can make a case, and create a solution.
Which techniques helped me? Many. First, I made sure I listened to the other side, and found out what their concerns are. Then following the principle for finding a common ground, we brainstormed solutions, and eventually we came up with a plan that was good for both of us. Sounds easy, but read the books mentioned above for more information!