Why Should I Read | Crucial Conversations

You’ve been asked by your boss several times to have expense reports in on time. It’s been on the agenda at 3 monthly staff meetings now. He has given several “office lectures” about punctuality. You’re on top of things this month, and got it in by the deadline. Two days later you see the boss slip an expense report into accounting. What do you do?

Crucial Conversations can sneak up on you at any time.

Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler define a Crucial Conversation, as “any conversation between two or more people where emotions run strong, opinions are varied, and the stakes are high.

Check out this week’s video at 0:45 for a fun story about one of my past experiences being totally unprepared for a crucial conversation.

Later on in the video I give one main idea and two quick points for getting you out ahead of the mass of people who find themselves in crucial conversations.

There are a plethora of situations that these world-class researchers have analyzed and give ideas for handling. But this main strategy and two applications will put you in good stead in many of them.

The main idea is this: Keep dialogue and the flow of meaning alive.

The word “Dialogue” from Etymology.com has this history:

dialogue (n.)Look up dialogue at Dictionary.comearly 13c., “literary work consisting of a conversation between two or more persons,” from Old French dialoge, from Latin dialogus, from Greekdialogos “conversation, dialogue,” related to dialogesthai “converse,” from dia- “across” (see dia-) + legein “speak” (see lecture (n.)).

In my video, I state a different etymology of this word, based on the original greek roots of the parts of the word.

In order to make the free flow of relevant information the path of least resistance we need to start with ourselves and be aware of our style under stress. There are a number of ways that people try to throw you or themselves off the path to dialogue but you can be prepared. Go read the book for full strategies but here are two to start with.

First, “Learn to Look.” Within this strategy we will look at two tangents that you need to look for that take you away from dialogue: Silence & Violence.

Within Silence, people intentionally leave out or withhold information from the pool of meaning. The three most common forms of this are masking true intentions, avoiding sensitive subjects, or withdrawing from the conversation altogether.

Within Violence, one tries to force meaning into the pool. This generally comes through trying to controlling others, labeling them something derogatory, or attacking them verbally.

Second, “Make it Safe.” There are five parts to making it safe, and you’ll have to go read the book to get them in detail. In summarizing them, I looked back to last week when we went through Tribes by Seth Godin and took a page from his book. He states that leaders when communicating with their tribe and bringing them together either choose to “lean in” or “lean out.” Making it safe for the person you are in conversation with could mean leaning in by determining the true issue or it could mean leaning out by stepping out to clear the air.

You’ll have to go read the rest of the book to get through mastering your story, exploring paths to reconciliation, taking action with others and by yourself.

Until next week, keep reading!

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