Jerry Brown, Pinnacle Forum board member and co-founder of Financial Network Services reviews Crucial Conversations.
by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler
Power -The ability to talk openly about high-stakes, emotional, controversial topics. This ability powers strong relationships, careers, organizations and communities. This is the ability to master Crucial Conversations. What is a Crucial Conversation?
1. Opinions vary
2. Stakes are high
3. Emotions run strong
Problem – When conversations move from casual to crucial – when they matter the most – we’re generally on our worst behavior. Why?
• Blood diverted from brain to large muscles
The Pool of Shared Meaning -Although we each have our own personal pool of meaning, people who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool.
• The Pool of Shared Meaning is a measure of a group’s IQ. The larger the shared pool, the smarter the decisions.
• Arguing, debating and running away reveal our inability to share meaning. Start with Heart – Begin high risk discussions with the right motives, and stay focused no matter what happens. “Eye on the Prize” -Focus on what you really want.
• Notice when you are starting to change your goal to save face, avoid
embarrassment, win, be right, or punish others.
• When adrenaline does our thinking for us, our motives flow with the chemical tide.
• What am I doing and what does that tell me about my underlying motive? Once shifting desires are detected, ask these questions:
o What do I really want for myself?
o What do I really want for others?
o What do t really want for the relationship?
• How would I behave if this were what I really wanted?
• The Sucker’s Choice” -The assumption that we are caught between two distasteful options… and they are the only two options… the worst of either/or thinking. There just might be a third option that doesn’t call for unhealthy behavior. (“Maybe there’s a way to be honest and respectful.”)
Learn to Look – When both stakes and emotions are high, we get so caught up in what we are saying that we don’t learn to look and see what’s happening to ourselves and to others. Ask what and why… why are people upset or holding back?
Learn to spot a crucial Conversation
• Physical signs -e.g. tight stomach or dry eyes
• Emotions -Notice that you are scared, hurt or angry or feel like attacking or withdrawing (fight and flight are both motivated by fear)
o Recode this as ~people are feeling unsafe.”
o Learn to look for Safety and then be curious, not angry or frightened.
o Am I having a good or bad impact on safety?
o Watch for your Style Under Stress – Do I Mask, Avoid or Withdraw?
o Make It Safe – Step out of the conversation, build safety, and then find a way to dialogue.
• “Can we change gears for a minute?”
• “The last thing I want to do is… “
• Which condition is at risk?
o Mutual Purpose – Do I really care about this person’s interests and see their perspective?
• Mutual Respect -“Lord, help me forgive those who sin differently than I.”
• To restore trust Contrast – A don’t/do statement
o e.g. “The last thing I wanted to do was make you think I don’t value your work.” (the don’t part) “I think your work has been terrific.” (the do part)
Master My Stories – Master your emotions or your emotions will master you.
• We must understand the Path to Action:
See/Hear Tell a Story Feel Act
There is an intermediate step between what others do and how we feel. That step is the story that I tell myself. Just after we observe what others do and just before we feel some emotion about it, we tell ourselves a story. We add meaning, motive and judgment.
Getting in touch with your feelings
1. When experiencing strong emotions, do you stop and think about your feelings (self-observation)?
2. Do you talk openly with others about how you feel?
3. Is your vocabulary robust and accurate? (Expand your emotional vocabulary)
Analyze your own stories -Watch out for:
• Victim Stories -“It’s not my fault”
• Villain Stories -“It’s all your fault”
• Helpless Stories -“There’s nothing else I can do”
Tell the rest of the story
• Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?
• Why would a reasonable, rational and decent person do this?
• What do I really want?
• What would I do right now if I really wanted these results?
State My Path – How to speak Persuasively, not Abrasively
• Worst -Blunt with no tact or stay mum
• Better -Speak some of their mind but understate it for fear of hurting others
• Best -Both totally frank and completely respectful, making it safe for others to hear and respond.
• Share your facts -Start with the least controversial element of your Path
• Tell your Story -Explain what you’re beginning to conclude,
• Ask for others Paths (Their Path to Action) -Encourage their facts & stories
• Talk Tentatively -The more forceful, the less persuasive. State it as a story; don’t disguise it as a fact.
• Encourage Testing -Be equally vigorous in encouraging others to challenge your opinion.
*The first three skills describe what to do. The last two tell how to do it.
Irony -The more you care about an issue, the less likely you are to be on your best behavior.
• Open yourself up to the belief that others might have something to say, and better still, they might hold a piece of the puzzle -and then ask them for their views.
• Explore Others Paths – How to listen when others blow up or clam up.
• Curiosity and Patience are critical as you explore the others Path to Action (AMPP)
• Ask -Express interest in the other person’s views
• Mirror -Increase safety by acknowledging the other person’s feelings.
• Paraphrase -Use reflective listening skills.
• Prime -If others hold back, take your best guess at what they are thinking and feeling.
Move to Action – How to turn Crucial Conversations into Action and Results.
• Dialogue is not decision making -be clear about how decisions will be made who will be involved and why.
o Try not to involve people who contribute no new information.
o Involve the fewest number of people while still considering the quality of the decision.
• How to Decide -Four Options
o Command -Decisions are made without involving others.
o Consult -Input is gathered from the group and then a subset decides.
o Vote -An agreed upon percentage wins the decision.
o Consensus -Everyone comes to an agreement and then supports the final decision.
o Tool: Also see “Coaching and Preparing for Crucial Conversations”.