Getting Ready for Your Next Crucial Conversation?

The Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High book (on Amazon #ad) has sold millions of copies and has recently been updated as a second edition.  Why has this book sold so many copies?  Because people want to be better 

communicators and keep the conversation moving towards agreement rather than argument or silence.   So how do people learn that from the book?  On pages 64-67, the book presents a Style Under Stress Test that the reader can take to determine where they score on the keys to holding crucial conversations (or take the assessment online at    After taking the assessment, data is compiled so readers can concentrate on chapters where they need help.  For example, I scored highest on “make it safe” (chapter 5) for allowing others to express their thoughts and concerns.  However, I scored lowest on “move to action” (chapter 9) for going from a conflict situations to decision-making.  Until, I read the chapter I did not know that even though I’m ok with getting people to the 3W’s of action items (after all I am a skilled meeting facilitator) but try too hard for consensus decisions (I guess that comes from years as a team leader) when one of the other deciding methods might work as well if not better.
Below are a few other key items from 5 chapters of the 11 in this book:
Chapter 3 – Start With Heart
1.       Clarify what you really want
2.       Clarify what you do not want
3.       Present your brain with a more complex problem

Chapter 4 – Learn to Look (for these things to get back on track}
·         What – content of discussion and what people are doing in response
·         Why – people are becoming angry or holding back

Chapter 5 - Make It Safe (so “we can stay in dialogue by finding a way to honor and regard another person’s basic humanity”)
1.       Step out of the situation until safety is restored
2.       Decide which mutual condition of safety is at risk:  purpose or respect
3.       Apologize when appropriate
4.       Contrast what you mean/don’t mean or intend/don’t intend to fix misunderstandings
5.       Create a mutual purpose using CRIB (commit, recognize, invent, brainstorm)

Chapter 7 – State My Path (5 tools using STATE)
1.       Share your facts
2.       Tell your story
3.       Ask for other’s paths
4.       Talk tentatively
5.       Encourage testing

Chapter 8 – Explore Other’s Paths (using the below skills)
·         Listening:  ask, mirror, paraphrase, prime
·         Sharing:  agree, build, compare


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