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
- 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:
- 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