Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High


Some helpful tactics and mindsets for approaching difficlt conversations

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Key Takeaways

  1. In short, you move from creating the right mind- and heart-set to developing and utilizing the right skill-set.
  2. Most breakthroughs in life truly are “break-withs.”
  3. Remember, to know and not to do is really not to know.
  4. The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw
  5. Dialogue - When it comes to risky, controversial, and emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all relevant information (from themselves and others) out into the open.
  6. Skilled people Start with Heart. That is, they begin high-risk discussions with the right motives, and they stay focused no matter what happens.
  7. The simple act of asking a potent question—can have a powerful effect on redirecting our hearts.
  8. What do I really want for myself? What do I really want for others? What do I really want for the relationship? Once you’ve asked yourself what you want, add one more equally telling question: How would I behave if I really wanted these results?
  9. Break free of these Fool’s Choices by searching for the "and."
  10. When it’s safe, you can say anything. When it’s unsafe, you start to go blind.
  11. When others move to silence or violence, step out of the conversation and Make It Safe. When safety is restored, go back to the issue at hand and continue the dialogue.
  12. When you have a tough message to share, or when you are so convinced of your own rightness that you may push too hard, remember to STATE your path:   
    1. Share your facts. Start with the least controversial, most persuasive elements from your Path to Action.
    2. Tell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.
    3. Ask for others’ paths. Encourage others to share both their facts and their stories.
    4. Talk tentatively. State your story as a story—don’t disguise it as a fact.
    5. Encourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing or even opposing views.
  13. To encourage the free flow of meaning and help others leave silence or violence behind, explore their Paths to Action. Start with an attitude of curiosity and patience. This helps restore safety. Then, use four powerful listening skills to retrace the other person’s Path to Action to its origins.
    1. Ask. Start by simply expressing interest in the other person’s views.
    2. Mirror. Increase safety by respectfully acknowledging the emotions people appear to be feeling.
    3. Paraphrase. As others begin to share part of their story, restate what you’ve heard to show not just that you understand, but also that it’s safe for them to share what they’re thinking.
    4. Prime. If others continue to hold back, prime. Take your best guess at what they may be thinking and feeling.

What I got out of it

  1. A book that should have been a blog post - some good points but nothing game changing

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