How to Have Better Conversations About Hard Things

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Anna Sale is one of my favorite interviewers. As the host of WNYC Studios’ “Death, Sex and Money,” she has an uncanny ability to get her guests to open up about the most personal, tragic, beautiful and embarrassing parts of their lives, whether it’s childhood trauma, the death of a partner or losing control of one’s limbs.

The kinds of conversations Sale has on her show are hard to have in real life. So we rarely have them, even though our relationships and our society and even our politics desperately need them. Thankfully, Sale has written a new book, “Let’s Talk About Hard Things,” which distills the lessons she has learned over the years for the rest of us and offers wisdom for navigating the topics we too often shy away from: death, sex, money, family, identity.

We discuss how society has increasingly pushed the responsibility for having these hard conversations onto individuals, what it takes to be a good listener, the common mistakes people make when supporting grieving friends and family members, why it’s especially hard to communicate with our family members, whether it’s necessary to give up our righteousness to preserve our relationships, the social stigma against talking about money, how to navigate tricky discussions about race and gender, and the art of asking open questions.

Recommendations:

"Death in Mud Lick" by Eric Eyre

"Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner

"The Secret to Superhuman Strength" by Alison Bechdel

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein.

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at ezrakleinshow@nytimes.com.

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Rogé Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.

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