Book Review: Crucial Conversations

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Episode #40: Book Review: Crucial Conversations

I really love the book Crucial Conversations, so in this book review, I provide some of my favorite tips for how to have a great conversation that produces results. I’ve included my one-page summary for you to print out and post in a visible place so that you can focus on facts and remove emotions from your decisions.


Maybe you need to talk with a difficult employee or have a difficult conversation with a professional you work with. They didn’t follow through with expectations, or they agreed to do one thing and then forgot about your agreement. These situations can be full of emotion that can get in the way of a peaceful resolution.


For me, it was important to remember that the only person I can directly control is myself. The first time my own coach told me this, I got really upset because I’d spent so much time trying to control everyone around me.


When you have a difficult conversation, start with the heart. How can dialogue get you the result you’re looking for? When looking for the solution, start with the things that you want. This will help you eliminate all of the negative thoughts you’re having so that you can focus on what you really want to create.


State your path:

  • Share your facts
  • Tell your story
  • Ask for others’ paths
  • Talk tentatively
  • Encourage testing


Your Call to Action: Think about a crucial conversation that you haven’t had yet, but you need to. Download my Crucial Conversation One Sheeter to help you have these conversations so that you can grow and develop into an amazing leader.

Resource Links

Hello and welcome to episode number 40 of the Strategy Corner, where our goal is to get you to take action. I’m your host, Michel Zink, the owner of Intentional Solutions Corp. On today’s strategy, we’re going to be doing a book review or an episode number 40. And I said every 10th episode, I’m going to do a book review. So today it’s all about Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson. Well, there’s a bunch of authors. I’m just naming one of them. Now, normally what I do is I’ll go ahead and read from the book and share with you the things that are highlighted, what I wrote in the columns, etc. But with Crucial Conversations, I’ve actually created a one pager like a one sheeter that goes over what I feel are the most important things in this book. There’s a lot of great resources and extra information that’s populated in the book. But I wanted to create a one pager because I feel like the book has a lot of stuff and I wanted to make sure that people focus on what is most important. So you will see in the notes to this podcast the Crucial Conversations one sheeter that I have created that I’m sharing with you today. I’ve also shared it with clients. And I feel like it’s a great resource to have, you know, saved on your desktop to review when those crucial conversations come up.


Now, when we talk about crucial conversations, examples of crucial conversations to me are when you have to have a conversation with an employee, that can be difficult. Maybe the person is having an issue with their attendance. Maybe there’s a project that they’re behind on. A crucial conversation could be one that you need to have with your husband or a loved one where maybe they’ve done something that you don’t agree with or you have an issue with. Maybe it’s a conversation that you need to have with a professional that you work with. Maybe it’s a CPA or a lawyer. Maybe again, you had an expectation that you thought they were going to do X and they didn’t do it. And so you have to have a conversation with them. And it could be a crucial conversation with your child. I utilize this a lot when I’m thinking about my daughter and how I can approach her, because the main objective is to approach someone, you know, professionally and with an open mindset instead of just this is what I think and this is right type mindset. So I’m going to go through the one sheeter. And again, this will be in the notes. So you’ll have it and you can utilize it. You could save it to your desktop. You could print it out.


So number one on the crucial conversations one sheeter is to remember that the only person you can directly control is yourself. Now, if you’ve been listening to my podcast, you know I’m real big on this whole ownership and taking ownership of yourself. And I have shared a lot of times where when I had the realization that I could only control myself, my coach told me that I got really upset. And it was really disappointing knowing that because I’d been trying to control people for a long time and wasting a lot of valuable energy. And once I came up with this realization or once I was told this, it took me about a weekend to really sink it in and really realize that this was true. And even now what I’ve been doing this work for so long, I still have to remind myself sometimes about this, because us as humans, we just love to control things. And so just remember, number one, the only person who can directly control is yourself.


Number two is start with the heart. Think about what you really, really want in this situation and how dialog can help you get to the result you’re looking for. So, for instance, if you’re working on a situation where maybe your attorney or your CPA didn’t do something that you thought they were going to do, you really want to think about like what is the solution? What do you really, really want out of this situation? So this way it helps you to eliminate all of those negative thoughts that you’re thinking about the person. Maybe you think, well, this person, you know, obviously isn’t qualified or maybe this person isn’t as focused as I thought they would be. It helps you to take those emotions and those negative thoughts out of your head and just focus on what do you really want to create in this situation. Maybe what you really want is just for them to file your tax return. So what do I need to give you to get that happening? We don’t need to go back and, you know, go through all the emails I’ve been sending or the voicemails. We just need to focus on what I really want in this situation, and that is to get my tax return filed.


And then number three, it says state your path. So 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. And on this sheet, you’ll see that state stands for share your facts. That’s the S T is tell your story. A is asked for others paths. T is talk tentatively and E is encourage testing. So if we start off with the S, share your facts and that means state the facts. So for example, I have an example here that if you’re dealing with an employee who isn’t being punctual at work and you’ve had a conversation with them, you’ve stated to them that you wanted their start time to be 8:30, you got an agreement, but this person is still coming in late. The example I give is you state the fact, Hey, Eddie, you arrived today at 9AM when your start time is 8:30. Help me to understand why you did that. So you state your facts. You don’t want to put in here your feelings, your, you know how what you’re making this mean. You just state the facts. The fact is, C.P.A I emailed you on Friday about my tax return status and I haven’t heard anything back. State the fact. Let’s say you’re dealing with your child. Millie, you said you’re to clean your playroom. But the fact is you’re upstairs watching a video and the playroom is still dirty. So sharing your facts is the key to keeping the emotions out and just focusing on the facts. The next thing is tell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude. So if we go back to the one where your employee comes in late, your story could be by you coming in late. I wonder if you take this job seriously. So again, we start off with the facts. Hey, Eddie, you came in at 9:00 a.m. this morning. We’ve had a conversation and your start time’s 8:30. I’m making this to mean that you will take your job seriously.


So by doing that, you’re stating the facts and then you’re telling them your story. You’re able to for them to relax into what you’re saying. It’s a really listen to you. OK. Because the next step is ask for others path. So encourage others to share both their facts and their stories. So, again, if we go back to Eddie and I shared that his start time is 8:30. He arrived at 9:00 AM. I told him my story is that I wonder if he’s taking the job seriously. I now say to him, help me understand why you came in at 9 a.m. Do you like working here? Did I get the facts wrong? And then be quiet. Let the person answer you and let the person tell you what their thoughts are so that you can open up the dialog. Then the next one is talk tentatively. So state your story as a story. Don’t disguise it as a fact. So example, if you’re again talking about someone coming in late. I hear what you’re saying. That you like working here in this job means a lot to you. So why do you think you can’t arrive on time? So this is like talking tentatively. So if the person says, what do I love working here? I do. I do. It’s just 8:30. I don’t know if that’s a good time for me. You know, I think that, you know, they can go on and on and kind of share what their story is and just kind of go back and forth like, OK. So I’m hearing you say this. You’re talking about this. It’s really about being in the moment and hearing that person share with you what their story is. And you state the facts back to them. So when someone says this is the situation, you’re talking tentatively, they say that, you know, their fact is, is that they really love their job, but it’s hard for them to get in by 8:30. You can open that up while I hear you saying it’s hard for you to get here by 8:30. But help me to understand, because we went ahead and had a conversation and you said 8:30 was possible. So this way the person can tell you everything that’s been going on. Maybe their status has changed. Maybe they’ve had to take care of a loved one now in the morning. Whatever the case may be, that allows you to talk tentatively about what the situation is.


And then you. E is for encourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing or even opposing views. So this is where you know, you really allow yourself just to again, listen even more to say, well, OK, so you can’t come in at 8:30. You want to start at 9:00 and then you can share. Well, for me, I don’t know if this is going to work because, you know, maybe you have someone else starting at 8:00. And so you’re staggering time. So 8:30 works better for you. So it just really encourages you to be in the moment and really talk about, you know, what’s good for them, what’s good for you, and to really talk about what they want is going to work for you. Because in the end, you know, if this is an employee, you’re their boss. You get to decide if what that changes, they want to make are really going to work for you or they’re not going to work for you.


Same with your children. If you’re talking to your child and you wanted them to clean their playroom and you’re making it mean they’re watching, you know, a video is that they are respecting your art, respecting what you’ve told them to do. Right. You’re disrespecting them, excuse me. That’s what I want to say. You’re disrespecting their order. You know, you asked them to go ahead to clean the playroom and then they go watch the video, but they watch the video ahead of time. Well, then the child, you’re allowing them to share what they think, because maybe what they heard was you need to clean the playroom. And they thought, well, I’m going to go ahead and listen to this video first and then clean my playroom. So you’re able to hear what they have to say. You’re talking tentatively about, you know, what the situation is. You now hear the facts from them and then you can encourage testing. OK. Well, I’ve told you to do the playroom first and then do the video. So what do we do now? You know, and you can say out loud that I want you to go ahead and stop doing the video and go clean the playroom and then you let them know that, you know, this is what you want them to do. So go ahead and put down, you know, your i-Pad and go clean the playroom and then you can come back and watch the video. But the thing is, is that your opening and you’re talking tentatively, you’re allowing your child to share with you too why maybe they don’t want to clean the playroom. And then you’re engaging with them and in the end telling them what you want them to do.


So in the end, you have to move to action so you don’t allow people to assume that dialog is decision making. Right. So even though I’m talking to my daughter about how you’re watching this video, I asked you to clean the playroom. Doesn’t mean I’m going to say she’s had to clean the playroom scene with that employee, even though I’m opening for discussion and allowing them to share their story about why they’re in late, doesn’t mean that I might not get back to I need you here by 8:30. And then how can you make that happen? So what it does, though, it does allow the person to feel like they’re being heard. It makes the person feel like they’re part of the solution. It makes the person feel like you care about them. So decide how to decide. When we talk about deciding, there are four ways to make a decision. And they talk about them in the book. The first one is command. These are decisions are made without involving others. So when you talk about command decisions, this is when maybe you’re talking to an employee about their star time.


You can actually decide right then and there when you want those start time without even asking maybe HR’s approval or asking your boss’ approval, you can just command and decide right on the point without involving others. You can consult. That’s another way that you can make a decision. And that’s by getting input and gathering it from a group. And then subset you decide a decision. So you can consult. You can ask for others input and then make a decision.


So in this case, with your employee, maybe you say that, you know, I hear what you’re saying, that 9:00 would be better for you. I need to talk to my boss to ensure that he’s OK. Or she’s OK with 9:00 because I want to set you up for success. So let me go ahead and talk to them and I’ll get back with you. That could be the consent. Then you have when it talks about the different decisions and the four ways you can make a decision; they have one called vote – an agreed upon percentage swings and decision. So this is where you might be working with a team of employees or counterparts. And you’re trying to you have an issue that you’re talking about. Everyone shared their stories and now we just take a vote and just see whatever is the most voted on. That’s where we go. The fourth way is consensus. Everyone comes to an agreement and then supports the final decision. Now, consensus, in my opinion, are really hard to make decisions on because rarely does everyone have the same opinion. So those are kind of hard. I have worked with a lot of people where they’ll go ahead and get consent. They’ll go ahead and talk to their boss or a couple of people to get their opinions and then they’ll make the decision. I’ve also worked with situations where, you know, especially if you’re a manager and you’re able to make decisions for your department, you could just command and make the decision right then. No, I need you to come in at 8:30 and then you let your boss know that you’ve made that decision just in case the individual goes to them.


The consensus one, again, in my opinion, is difficult, but it is an option where everyone comes to an agreement and then supports the final decision. So the final step is to finish clearly. You always need to determine who’s doing what and by when. Make the deliverables crystal clear. Set a follow up time, record the comments and then follow up because you need to hold people accountable to their promises. Now, the thing is, is that we love or we think that people should just do what they say they’re going to do. But that’s not the case. Some people do. Some people don’t. But it is if we’re the ones who are part of the solution, part of this crucial conversation, we need to make sure that we know who’s doing what and by when. We put that on our calendar and then we follow up, if you don’t hear from them. And then we take and we have the next crucial conversation. If someone says we’re going to do something and they don’t do it again, state your path, share your facts, tell your story, ask for others paths, talk tentatively, encourage testing and then move to action.


So this crucial conversations one sheeter is something that I pull out all the time just to refresh or remind myself, because again, when I’m thinking about having a crucial conversation, there’s usually a lot of emotional, personal emotion involved. And so by reading this one pager, it gets me to focus back on the facts. It makes me focus in on what I really want to accomplish and what the end result is. And then that conversation is much more structured and it’s much more positive. And in the end, there’s gonna be a good decision and we’re gonna be able to move forward with this. And thus, I can take it off my plate.


So your call to action is to think about a crucial conversation that you haven’t had yet that you know, you need to have and to download my one sheeter and to practice the strategy of crucial conversations and see how it works for you. There might be things where you’d want to add in or take out, but the goal is to actually have a process for how you deal with crucial conversations so that it makes it just something that you do and not something that you dread or you worry about. So I think it’s a really great book and I just created this one sheeter to help my clients and I want to share it with you too, so that I can help you to have those conversations to be able to move forward, grow and develop yourself into an amazing leader.


So until next time, if you could please go to iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and subscribe to the Strategy Corner. That would be amazing. You could also leave a review on i-Tunes. I would love that. Go to my website and sign up to get my weekly blog post, which also has a link to the latest podcast.


Until next time, remember, through action and growth progression happens. Let’s take action together. Thank you so much for listening and create an amazing week.