Proper communication is vitally important in all we do. At work, absolutely, but also in our personal lives. I have just finished a book my boss gave me to read called Crucial Conversations. The premise of the book is how we find ourselves in crucial conversations (meaning, something is on the line) frequently, and if we do not know how to communicate with the other people involved, we have made the situation worse.
It all boils down to taking the focus off of you. Stop being so selfish and myopic that you are unwilling to see a situation from the other person's perspective. After we stop and ask ourselves "what do I want?" then the situation should shift to see that, most likely, both parties want the same thing, but just have different ways of approaching it.
That is why talking through it can be the best thing, but only if both can listen to one another.
This book supplied helpful reminders of how to turn a bad conversation around to keep it focused, calm, and productive. The chapters go through the ingredients we need to toss into the circumstance when a conversation becomes crucial. It all starts with you, and finding what you want, but in order to have a successful dialogue, you will need to then look at the other person's needs/problems/tensions and allow a gentle understanding to seep through your speech.
Being gentle with our words is a biggie, because once something is said it cannot be unsaid. So, guarding our speech is quite an important element in being a part of a tough discussion and creating a safe arena for both to talk is crucial.