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October 28, 2013

Recommended Reading: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

Filed under: Professional Development,Recommended Reading — Alec @ 8:32 pm

I can’t say this is one of my favorite books, but it is packed with meat. I wish I had read and taken to heart 40 years ago.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler is all about talking to people and communicating with people when the stakes are high. In the book, crucial conversations are defined by a 3-legged stool and each leg of the stool represents one of the following: when there are opposing opinions, when emotions are high, or when the stakes are high. I can’t tell you the number of times this applied directly to me, in business and in my personal life.

The book discusses a lot of instances when nurses don’t speak up to the doctor when the doctor is about to make a mistake, are not following hospital procedure, or they do say something and the doctor ignores them. This is an example of a crucial conversation.

Communications are a predictor of success in your company. Arguing reduces your immune systems effectiveness. When you have more and more bad conversations, it becomes a death spiral of emotion and option. So, once you have a single bad conversation, it carries over to the next and to other topics. Thus the death spiral.

Good leaders are skilled at handling emotional and political situations. For example, this idea is referenced in Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or you know of Greg Cobbs’ advice to lower your voice and talk slower when someone is emotional. An outstanding predictor of project success was if people spoke up; most people shy away from conflict, especially with the boss when it is crucial conversation.

Companies who are good at managing crucial conversations and creating open dialogue are 5 times faster to recover economically. They are considered safer places to work and they make more money. Restructuring and reengineering, etc. seldom work, unless you can alter the way the company communicates. Sometimes it happens when you change people…but it is as likely to get worse as it is to get better. In the best companies, everyone holds everyone else accountable. They talk!

The definition of dialogue is the free flow of “meaning” between two or more people. When we pool the “meaning” of a group, we increase the IQ of the group. Individually people can do some really stupid things, but in a healthy group that has open dialogue, it is much more difficult to make stupid decisions.

In relationships you are bound to bicker. Everyone argues occasionally. It is not IF you argue, it is HOW you argue. The way you argue impacts your health, so the way you talk or don’t talk can literally kill you. Martin Luther King was quoted saying, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”

Pages to Note:
Page 25: People tend to hold back their comments and ideas when talking or with people of power
Page 33: “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret” – Ambrose Bierce
Page 38: 10 minutes into kindergarten, we learn we must spout the right answer if we want the teachers attention. It is not about individual winning!
Page 42: When you are cornered, ask a question (slowly, softly) without emotion (ask yourself why)
Page 43: Three questions: What do I really want for myself? What do I really want for others? What do I really want for the relationship?
Page 48: Remember it is sometimes the boss that must accept criticism
Page 49: Clarify what you both want
Page 51: Self-knowledge is not common! “I have known a thousand scamps: but I have never met one who considered himself so. Self-knowledge isn’t so common.” – Quida
Page 57: When your emotions rise, key brain functions shut down
Page 63:  http://www.vitalsmarts.com/styleunderstress/  your style under stress, interesting, and a great self introspective
Page 72: Listen to the tone of a conversation, especially the speed and volume
Page 77: How can others feel safe when they feel others are out to harm them? We must really care about others (if we wish to communicate with them).
Page 79:  You can’t have Crucial Conversation with someone you don’t respect (also coined by Jim Fox in TROOP: Total Respect of Other People)
Page 113: Admit it when you have lost your temper
Page 133: Good communicators are humble at the right time
Page 138: Good communicators are the least controversial and least insulting
Page 157: Be sincere, be curious of facts
Page 177: (This is a BIG point) Just because you are excellent at communications, does not mean your team will take action
Page 191: You don’t have to say it, your body language will show anger
Page 214: Apologize when appropriate, share your facts

 Things I have learned along the way:

• When things don’t go as you planned, it is easy to lose control

• Every time you lose your temper, you lose money. Every time your people go silent, it costs you money.

• Others are not the source of all our problems. We are. Work on improving yourself first.

 

 

 

1 Comment »

  1. 7 Habits of highly effective people Be proactive

    Recommended Reading: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High | McPherson Lean Partners, inc. Blog

    Trackback by 7 Habits of highly effective people Be proactive — November 1, 2013 @ 2:44 am

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