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Book ReportsLibraryResourcesSeptember 2016

Crucial Conversations Book Report

Book Report by Susan Schilkecrucial conversations

What’s a Crucial Conversation?

  • Opinions vary
  • Stakes are high
  • Emotions run strong

When it Matters Most

  • Genetics get in the way – adrenalin kicks in
  • Fight or flight
  • Self-defeating behavior

Silence Fails

  • Most common complaint – silos
  • 80% of projects that require cross-functional
    cooperation… cost more and produce less

Leaders respond with new processes, systems and structure… But it’s about behavior.

The Fool’s Choice

  • Option 1: Speak up and turn a powerful person into an enemy
  • Option 2: Suffer in silence and make a bad decision that hurts the company
  • There’s a third choice…

The Pool of Shared Meaning

  • Enter conversations with our own feelings and experiences
  • Enter crucial conversations in a different pool
  • Dialogue makes it safe to add to the shared pool – get all ideas into the open
  • As the Pool of Shared Meaning grows, decisions get better

Step 1: Start with the Heart

  • Focus on what you really want
    • What do I want for myself?
    • For others?
    • How would I behave if this is what I really want?
  • Refuse the Fool’s Choice
    • Search for the ‘and’
    • Clarify what you don’t want, add it to what you do want, and start looking for good options

Step 2: Learn to Look

  • Be aware of when things become crucial
  • Look to see if others are moving toward silence or violence
  • Monitor your own style under stress

Step 3: Make it Safe

  • When it becomes crucial, step out of the conversation and make it safe
  • Do you have mutual purpose?
  • Do you have mutual respect?
  • Clarify with contrast – what you don’t intend, then what you do mean
  • Find mutual purpose and respect then continue to dialogue on strategies

Step 4: Master Your Stories

  • We see and hear something, then tell ourselves a story… feel and act
  • To master your stories
    • Retrace your path – question your conclusions
    • Get back to the facts
    • Ask yourself what you really want?
    • Turn the facts into a useful story – that leads to healthy action like dialogue

Step 5: State Your Path

  • Share your facts – facts are the least controversial and most persuasive
  • Tell your story – explain your conclusions
  • Ask for others’ paths – ask about others’ facts and conclusions
  • Talk tentatively – it’s a story, not a fact
  • Encourage testing – make it safe

And: Explore Others’ Paths

  • Interest in the others’ views.
  • Acknowledge feeling
  • What did you hear?
  • If they hold back, take your best guess at what they may be thinking or feeling
  • ABCs – agree when you share views; build from there; compare where views differ

Finally: Move to Action

  • Decide how to decide:
    • Command
    • Consult
    • Vote
    • Consensus – the best choice for high stakes, complex issues where everyone must support the final decision
    • Decide who does what when

Key Concepts to Remember

  • Dialogue is about contributing to the pool of shared meaning to make better decisions
  • Keep the conversation safe for dialogue – mutual purpose and respect – contrast tool
  • Master your stories – go back to the facts to find more useful stories
  • State your path – Share, Tell, Ask, Talk, Encourage

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