A crucial conversation is a discussion characterized by high stakes, differing opinions, and strong emotions. Is it an isolated event? It can be difficult if the people you're speaking with are experiencing a highly emotional reaction, or if they're not sharing, they're very sensitive, defensive and so on. In Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High, authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler argue that many problems are caused by how people behave when they disagree with others about high-stakes, emotional issues. In high-risk discussions, stay focused on what you really want (your big-picture goal, such as a stronger relationship), so you don’t get sidetracked by conversational games, such as trying to win, punish the other person, or keep the peace. Encourage testing: Proactively seek opposing views, so you can test your theory against additional information. Required fields are marked *. Behaviors include name-calling, filibustering, and making threats, but the most common are controlling, labeling, and attacking. From this you can discover your strengths and weaknesses so you'll know which areas to target. This is one of the hardest parts in learning how to have a crucial conversation, since it requires taking action from an emotionally charged dialogue. Ask yourself the following to return to dialogue: Notice when you start talking yourself into a "Sucker's Choice" - these are either/or choices which can be used to justify unhelpful behaviour by saying that you had no choice but to argue against or withdraw - there was no other option. A "Path to Action" helps you see how your thoughts, emotions and experiences lead to your actions. See if mutual purpose is at risk by asking: Do others believe I care about their goals in this discussion? Prime: If others hold back, offer a guess as to what they may be thinking and feeling to get the discussion started. But you can take back control of your emotions by telling a different story and this will lead you to behave more appropriately. You are also able to gauge your emotions. Mirror: Acknowledge the emotions people appear to be feeling. When people resort to silence or violence — either withholding meaning or trying to force it on the shared pool — there are some common behaviors and tactics to look for. Talk tentatively. We will be covering the following steps needed to manage crucial conversations: When you feel threatened you may abandon what you want to say and instead choose to protect yourself by, for example, staying quiet or punishing others . Who Is Eddie’s Father in The Five People You Meet in Heaven? You can’t have constructive dialogue when people don’t feel safe, because they start acting in unproductive ways and stop contributing to the dialogue. Learning to make it safe in crucial conversations is one of the most important parts of learning to connect and communicate. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It's important to make everyone feel comfortable enough to share or you risk diluting your content, or just saying whatever is on your mind without any concern. To decide which decision-making process to use ask: Who? Paraphrase - take what the other person has said and put it into your own words. The higher the stakes the more difficult it is to control your emotions and strong emotions can lead to silence or violence. They define dialogue as the free flow of meaning between people. Document the decisions made and all of the commitments promised. Remember that you don't have to agree with what someone is saying to respect them. Why is this happening? Also, make sure you’re telling yourself the full story, and haven’t omitted any facts to justify your reaction. And when they do, their career, health, personal relationships, and their organization or company benefit tremendously. It's now your turn to respond so consider using the ABC method. You then told a story to yourself - that she's lazy and selfish. We behave our worst at the most critical moments. While you should be thinking about how to make them feel safer, it’s difficult when you feel under attack — you may get emotional and respond in kind (or withdraw). For instance, you or someone else may be speaking too forcefully; others may feel threatened and shut down, or become increasingly forceful themselves. Look at the other person when they are talking, put aside distractions (shut off the computer, turn off your phone, shut the door). By focusing on the goal you can avoid trying to win. You begin to react to or suppress these feelings. Look for ways to do both: speak up and have a stronger relationship. All the conversational effort is moot unless there’s an action plan and follow-through to achieve results. Do you need more information from the person? I don’t want to put the burden on you. This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Crucial Conversations" by Kerry Patterson. What I do want is to be able to talk so we understand each other better.”.