This is a crucial book for every one. Why curicial? Because it is all about 3 things in life: Communication, communication, communication. This is a practical book and a must read for anyone.
A crucial conversation is a discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong. People generally choose to at least try to handle this sort of situation as well as they possibly can. Most times, however, they don’t do very well at all, for several reasons.
“Physiologically, humans are designed to handle stressful situations with fists and feet (and the related hormones and physical reactions), not intelligence and attentiveness. ” Most often these sorts of situations come up spontaneously and out of nowhere, and many people cannot come up with more than a knee-jerk response to them. ” Many people simply don’t know where to start when dealing with these situations.
The consequences of either avoiding or messing up one’s crucial conversations can be quite severe, as every aspect of people’s lives can be affected, from the personal (relationships with loved ones, friends and co-members of interest groups, our health) to the professional (careers and the communities people belong). Learning how to face crucial conversations and how to handle them well is also learning how to influence just about every aspect of people’s lives.
The free flow of relevant information is central to every successful conversation. The key to success in conversing is being open and honest in expressing opinions, feelings and theories, willingly sharing views even when the ideas in question are controversial or unpopular. This free flow of meaning is known as dialogue.
Each of us enters a conversation with different opinions, feelings, experiences, ideas and theories about the topic being discussed. This combination of thoughts and feelings makes up a personal ‘pool of meaning’.
People skilled at dialogue try to make it safe for everyone conversing to bring their inputs out into the open – into a ‘shared pool’. As the ‘shared pool’ is added to, it grows. As this happens, people benefit: as they are exposed to more accurate and relevant information, they make better choices, and people also willingly act on whatever decisions they all make. The pool of shared meaning is the birthplace of synergy.
These dialogue skills are quite easy to spot and moderately easy to learn.
Skilled people always start with heart.
They begin high-risk discussions with the right motives and stay focused no matter what happens (they stick to their goals and believe that dialogue, no matter the circumstances, is always an option).
- They ask themselves, “What does my behavior tell me about what my motives are?”
- Then they ask themselves, “What do I want for myself? For others? For the relationship?”
- And, finally, “How would I behave if this were what I really wanted?”
– They refuse the Sucker’s Choice (an either/or choice).
- Check to see if you’re telling yourself to choose between winning and losing or peace and honesty, for example.
- Break free by searching for the “and.”
- Clarify what you don’t want, add that to what you do want, and ask yourself to start looking for healthy options to return to dialogue.
When you get caught up in a crucial conversation, it becomes very difficult to see exactly what’s going on and why it’s happening. Sometimes, when discussions become stressful, you end up doing the opposite of what works.
To break from this cycle, learn to look:
– At both content and conditions
- You can get so caught up in what you’re saying (content) that it can be nearly impossible to pull out of the argument to see what’s happening to you and to others (conditions).
– For signs that a harmless discussion is transforming into a crucial one
- What cues (physical, for example) can you use to recognize that your brain is disengaging and you’re moving away from healthy dialogue?
– For safety problems. When it’s ‘safe’, you can say anything; when it’s ‘unsafe’,
you start to go blind and can’t take feedback.
– To see if others are moving toward silence or violence
- Two unhealthy paths:
Silence – purposefully withholding information from the conversation; done to avoid potential problems. Three forms:
a) Masking – understating or selectively showing true opinions(sarcasm and sugar-coating are examples)
b) Avoiding – steering away from sensitive topics
c) Withdrawing – pulling out of a conversation altogether
Violence – any verbal strategy done to convince, control or compel others to one’s point of view. Three forms:
a) Controlling – coercing others to your way of thinking
b) Labeling – putting tags on people or ideas so they can be dismissed under a general stereotype or category
c) Attacking – moving from winning the argument to making the person suffer