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Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high

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Thesis: Master crucial conversations and you’ll kick-start your career, strengthen your relationships and improve your health.

Things to Remember:

  • Start with heart
    • What is it you really want?
    • How would I behave if I wanted these results?
  • Refuse either/or thinking
  • Learn to look
    • At content AND conditions
    • Recognize when things become crucial
    • Watch for safety problems
    • Notice if people are moving toward silence or violence
    • Look for outbreaks of your style under stress
      • masking, withdrawing, attacking (all mine,
      • labeling, controlling, avoiding
  • Make it safe
    • Step out of the situation. Make it safe. Then step back in.
      • Apologize
      • Contrast – take their fears and voice them, showing them you are not reinforcing it
      • CRIB
        • Commit to mutual purpose
        • Recognize the purpose behind the strategy
        • invent a mutual purpose if there is no apparent one
        • Brainstorm new strategies
    • Establish mutual purpose
    • Project respect for the other party
  • Master my stories
    • Notice your behavior
      • Am I being silent or violent?
      • What emotions are driving me?
      • What STORY is creating these emotions?
      • What evidence do I have to support this story?
  • STATE my path
    • Share facts: start with least controversial and most persuasive
    • Tell your story: explain what you’re beginning to conclude
    • Ask for others’ path: encourage others to share
    • Talk tentatively: it’s a story, not a fact
    • Encourage testing: make it safe to have differing views
  • Explore others’ paths
    • Ask: express interest in others’ views
    • Mirror: respectfully acknowledge the emotions others are feeling
    • Paraphrase: restate their side to show them you understand
    • Prime: if others hold back, take your best guess at naming their thoughts and emotions
    • Agree: agree readily when you do
    • Build: if others leave something out, agree where you do, then build
    • Compare: don’t suggest others are wrong, compare your two views
  • Move to action
    • Decide how to decide
      • Command – decisions made without consulting others
      • Consult – input gathered from a group
      • Vote
      • Consensus
    • Finish clearly – decide who does what and when. Then set a follow up time.
  • Change your life
    • Master the content
      • Do something
      • Discuss the material
      • Teach the material
    • Master the skills
      • Rehearse with a friend
      • Practice on the fly
      • Practice in a training session
    • Enhance your motive
      • Apply incentives
      • Apply discincentives
      • Go public
      • Talk with your boss
      • Remember the cost but focus on the reward
      • Think “things.” How can things help to motivate you?
    • Watch for cues
      • Mark hot spots
      • Set aside a time
      • Read reactions
      • Build in permanent reminders
      • Carry a reminder