Crucial Conversations AreInteractions that happen to everyone.They’re the day to day conversations thataffect your life.
Crucial Conversations Are OnesIn Which• Opinions vary• Stakes are high• Emotions run strong
What Makes Each ConversationCrucialAnd not just challenging, frustrating, orannoying, is that the results could have ahuge impact on the quality of your life.
Despite the ImportanceOf crucial conversations, we often backaway from them because we fear we’ll makematters worse. We’ve become masters atavoiding tough conversations.
Co-WorkersSend emails to each other when they shouldwalk down the hall and talk to one another.
BossesLeave voice mail in lieu of meeting with theirdirect reports.
Family MembersChange the subject when an issue gets toorisky.
Three Possible Ways to HandleCrucial Conversations1. We can avoid them.2. We can face them and handle thempoorly.3. We can face them and handle them well.
For Many of UsWhen conversations move from casual tocrucial, we are generally on our worstbehavior. Why is that?
We Are Designed WrongWhen conversations turn from routine tocrucial, we’re often in trouble. That’sbecause emotions don’t exactly prepare usto converse effectively.
As A ResultYou end up facing challengingconversations with the sameintellectual equipment availableto a rhesus monkey. Your bodyis preparing to deal with anattacking saber-toothedtiger, not yourboss, neighbor, or loved ones.
PressureCrucial conversations are frequently spontaneous.More often than not, they come out of nowhere.And since you’re caught by surprise, you’re forcedto conduct an extraordinary complex humaninteraction in real time – no books, nocoaches, and no therapists.
All You HaveIs the issue at hand, theother person, and a brainthat’s drunk on adrenalineand almost incapable ofrational thought.
It’s No SurpriseThat we often say and do things that makeperfect sense in the moment, but later onseem, well, stupid.
We Act in Self-Defeating WaysIn our doped up, dumbed down state, thestrategies we choose for dealing with ourcrucial conversations are perfectly designed tokeep us from what we actually want. We’re ourown worst enemies. And we don’t even realizeit.
Here are Some Typical CrucialConversations• Ending a relationship• Talking to a co-worker who behavesoffensively• Asking a friend to repay a loan• Giving the boss feedback about herbehavior• Critiquing a colleague’s work
Here are Some Typical CrucialConversations• Resolving custody or visitation issues• Dealing with a rebellious teen• Asking in-laws to quit interfering• Talking to a co-worker about personalhygiene problems
By The Way…In real estate, isn’t almost everyconversation a crucial one?• Offers• Negotiating• Pricing a listing• Getting a buyer contract signed• Overcoming objections
The EffectsOf conversations gone bad can be bothdevastating and far reaching. Strongrelationships, careers, organizations, andcommunities all draw from the same source ofpower – the ability to talk openly about highstakes, emotional, controversial topics.
The Key SkillOf effectiveleaders, teammates, parents, and loved ones is thecapacity to skillfullyaddress emotionally andpolitically risky issues.
As it Turns OutYou don’t have to choose between beinghonest and being effective. You don’t haveto choose between candor and your career.
People WhoRoutinely hold crucial conversations andhold them well are able to expresscontroversial and even risky opinions in away that gets heard.
The People Around ThemListen without becoming defensive or angry.
Improve Your RelationshipsWhen you ask the average person whatcauses people to break up, he or sheusually suggests that it’s due to differencesof opinion.
People HaveDifferent theories about how to manage theirfinances, spice up their love lives, or reartheir children.
In TruthEveryone argues about important issues.But not everyone splits up. It’s how youargue that matters.
Live Healthier!The emotional pain we suffer, and theconstant battering we endure as we stumbleour way through unhealthy conversationsslowly eats away at our health.
In Some CasesThe impact of failed conversations leads tominor problems. In others it results indisaster. In all cases, failed conversationsnever make us happier, healthier, or betteroff.
The ConsequencesOf either avoiding or fouling up a crucialconversation can be severe.
When We FailA crucial conversation, every aspect of ourlives can be affected – from our careers, toour communities, to our relationships, to ourpersonal health.
The Mistake Most of Us MakeIn our crucial conversations is we believethat we have to choose between telling thetruth and keeping a friend.
The Fool’s ChoiceWhen we were young we learned that whenGrandma served us a large wedge ofBrussels Sprout Pie and then asked, “Doyou like it?” – she really meant, “Do you likeme?”
When We Answered HonestlyAnd saw the look of hurt and horror on herface, we made a decision that affected therest of our lives: “From this day forward, Iwill be alert for moments when I mustchoose between candor and kindness.”
And From That Day ForwardWe have found plenty of those same typesof moments with bosses, colleagues, andloved ones. The consequences can bedisastrous.
When It ComesTo risky, controversial, and emotionalconversations, skilled people find a way toget all relevant information (from themselvesand others) out into the open. That’s it.
At The CoreOf every successful conversation lies thefree flow of relevant information. Peopleopenly and honestly express theiropinions, share their feelings, and articulatetheir theories.
They WillinglyAnd capably share their views, even whentheir ideas are controversial or unpopular.
DialogueIs the free flow of meaning between two ormore people.
Filling the Pool of SharedMeaningEach of us enters conversations with ourown opinions, feelings, theories, andexperiences about the topic at hand. This isour personal pool of meaning.
When Two or More PeopleEnter crucial conversations, they don’t sharethe same pool. Their opinions differ.
Those Skilled in DialogueMake it safe for everyone to add theirmeaning to a shared pool – even ideas thatat first appear controversial, wrong, or atodds with their beliefs.
The Pool of Shared MeaningIs the birthplace of synergy.
As PeopleSit through an open discussion where ideasare shared, they take part in the free flow ofmeaning. Eventually they understand whythe shared solution is the best solution.
The Time You SpendUp front establishing a shared pool ofmeaning is more than paid for byfaster, more unified, and more committedaction later on.
Let’s Look AtHow people who are skilled at dialogue stayfocused on their goals – particularly whenthe going gets tough.
This Requires• Work on me first, and us second• Focus on what you really want• Refuse the fool’s choice
Me First, Us SecondWhen tensions rise in crucialconversations it is not that ourbehavior simplydegenerates, it’s that ourmotives do. We go fromfocusing on the end goal tofocusing on winning or gettingeven.
As Much AsOthers may need to change, or we maywant them to change, the only person wecan continually inspire, prod, and shape –with any degree of success, is the person inthe mirror.
Focus On What You Really WantWhen conversationsbecome crucial, step backand look at yourself as anoutsider. Askyourself, “What am Idoing, and if I had toguess, what does it tell meabout my underlyingmotive?”
Stop & Ask Yourself• What do I really want for myself?• What do I really want for others?• What do I really want for the relationship?
Refuse the Fool’s ChoiceWatch to see if you’re telling yourself thatyou must choose between peace andhonesty, between winning and losing, and soon. Break free of the fool’s choice bysearching for the and.
Clarify What You Don’t WantAdd to it what you do want, and ask yourbrain to start searching for healthy options tobring you to dialogue.
Learn to LookWhen caught up in a crucialconversation, it’s difficult to see exactlywhat’s going on and why. When adiscussion starts to become stressful, weoften end up doing the opposite of whatworks.
Spot Safety ProblemsThose most skilled at dialogue keep an eyeon safety. If you make it safeenough, people feel like they can talk aboutanything without fear that they will beattacked or humiliated.
People RarelyBecome defensive simply because of what youare saying. They only become defensive whenthey no longer feel safe. The problem is notthe content of your message, but the conditionof the conversation.
If You Can LearnTo see when people start to feel unsafe, youcan take action to fix it. That means that thefirst challenge is to simply see andunderstand that safety is at risk.
By Pulling Yourself Out of theArgumentAnd looking for signs that safety is atrisk, you reengage your brain and your fullvision returns.
Step Out, Make it Safe,Step Back InIf you really want to have a healthyconversation, then you may have to setaside confronting the current issue, for amoment or two, to make it safe for the otherside.
Mutual PurposeTo create safety you must create mutualpurpose. Mutual purpose means that othersperceive that you’re working toward acommon outcome in the conversation, thatyou care about their goals, interests, andvalues.
And Vice VersaYou believe they care about yours.
Mutual PurposeIs the entry condition of dialogue. Find ashared goal, and you have both a goodreason and a healthy climate for talking.
Mutual PurposeIs not a technique. To succeed in crucialconversations, we must really care about theinterests of others – not just our own.
If Our GoalIs to get our way or manipulate others, it willquickly become apparent, safety will bedestroyed, and we’ll be back to silence orviolence by the other party in no time.
Examine Your MotivesAsk yourself:• What do I want for me?• What do I want for others?• What do I want for the relationship?
You Can’t StayIn a crucial conversation if youdon’t maintain mutual purpose.Mutual respect is thecontinuance condition ofdialogue. As people perceivethat others don’t respectthem, the conversationimmediately becomes unsafeand dialogue comes to ascreeching halt.
A Telltale SignThat respect is violated and safety takes aturn south, is when people are defendingtheir dignity. Emotions are key. When peoplefeel disrespected, they become highlycharged.
Apologize When AppropriateWhen you’ve made a mistake that hurtsothers, start with an apology. Express yoursorrow for your role in causing, or for notpreventing, pain or difficulty to others.
ContrastWhen others misinterpret your purpose orintent, step out of the argument and rebuildsafety by using a skill called contrasting.
ContrastingIs a don’t/do statement that:• Addresses others’ concerns that you don’trespect them or that you have maliciouspurpose (the don’t part).• Confirms your respect or clarifies your realpurpose (the do part).
To Stop ArguingWe have to suspend ourbelief that our choice is theabsolute best and onlyone, and that we’ll never behappy until we get exactlywhat we currently want.
We Have ToOpen our mind to thefact that maybe, justmaybe, there is a thirdchoice out there – onethat suits everyone.
Brainstorm New StrategiesOnce you’ve built safety by finding a sharedpurpose, you should now have enough safetyto return to the content of the conversation.
Suspend JudgmentAnd think outside the box for newalternatives.
Other’s Don’t Make You MadYou make you mad. You make youscared, annoyed, or insulted. You, and onlyyou, create your emotions.
Once You’ve Created Your UpsetEmotionsYou have only two options: You can act onthem or be acted on by them. When itcomes to strong emotions, you either find away to master them or fall hostage to them.
It’s Not EasyTo rethink yourself from an emotional anddangerous state into one that puts you backin control. But it can be done. It should bedone.
Here’s HowJust after we observe what others do and justbefore we feel some emotion about it, we tellourselves a story. We add meaning to the actionwe observed. We make a guess at the motivedriving the behavior.
We AlsoAdd judgment.Then, based on thesethoughts or stories, ourbody responds with anemotion.
If We Take ControlOf our stories, they won’t control us. People whoexcel at dialogue are able to influence theiremotions during crucial conversations. They tellthemselves different stories and break the loop.It’s the only way to break the loop.
The Best Way ToFind out the true story is not to act out theworst story you can generate. That will leadto self-destructive silent or violence games.Think about other possible explanations longenough to temper your emotions so you canget to dialogue.
Once You’ve Worked On YourselfTo create the right conditions fordialogue, you can then draw upon 5 distinctskills that can help you talk about even themost sensitive topics.
STATE• Share your facts• Tell your story• Ask for others’ paths• Talk tentatively• Encourage testing
Share Your FactsStart with the least controversial, mostpersuasive elements from your path toaction.
Tell Your StoryExplain what you are beginning to conclude.
Ask for Others’ PathsEncourage others to share both their factsand their stories.
Talk TentativelyState your story as a story – don’t disguise itas a fact.
Encourage TestingMake it safe for others to express differing oreven opposing views.
How do You Listen When OthersBlow Up or Clam Up?Be sincere: To get others’ facts and storiesinto the pool of meaning we have to invitethem to share what’s on their minds.
Be PatientWhen others are acting out their feelings and opinionsthrough silence or violence, it’s a good bet they’restarting to feel the effects of adrenaline. So, be patientwhen exploring how they feel. Encourage them toshare their path and then wait for emotions to catch upwith the safety you’ve created.
4 Powerful Listening Skills to Retracethe Other Person’s Path to Action• Ask• Mirror• Paraphrase• Prime
AskStart by simply expressing interest in theother person’s views.
MirrorIncrease safety by respectfullyacknowledging the emotions people appearto be feeling.
ParaphraseAs others begin to share part of theirstory, restate what you’ve heard to show notjust that you understand, but also that it’ssafe for them to share what they’re thinking.
PrimeIf others continue to hold back, prime. Takeyour best guess at what they may bethinking and feeling.
Final ThoughtsYour life is fundamentally a function of howyou are handling dialogue with peoplearound you.
If You PersistAnd use the ideas we’ve shared, you willsee dramatic improvements in yourrelationships and results. A little bit ofchange can lead to an enormous amount ofprogress.
As AlwaysAs Always... if you know of anyone who wouldappreciate working at a rewarding andprofessional real estate office that is dedicated toenriching the lives and careers of its agents, pleasecall me with their name and business number andI would be happy to follow up and take great careof them!