You are having a conversation with your boss or maybe even your mom. You begin to feel sick, your hands become sweaty, and you realize you are actually nervous as the discussion continues. The realization sets in that the stakes are high; you probably don’t have the same opinion as the person you are having the discussion with, and your emotions are through the roof. You are having a crucial conversation.
We all have them but it is how we have them that is important. It is extremely easy to fail at these conversations. I know I have failed many times and to be honest, I didn’t realize they actually had a name until I recently read the book, Crucial Conversations. As professionals, we are in positions where we have crucial conversations every day. And these conversations aren’t always limited to just the workplace.
Crucial conversations occur between husband and wives, neighbors, friends, siblings — you name it, they occur. I traditionally avoid crucial conversations. I found, both with experience as my guide and through reading this book, that not having the conversation or having a failed conversation causes stress and impacts your health. Successful conversations can help your peace of mind, your stress level, and mood. This books is great in guiding you on how to have successful crucial conversations.
When preparing or having a crucial conversation…
- Can I do anything with myself to change the situation?
- How can I be 100% honest and at the same time respectful?
- What is it that I really want from this conversation and what is the goal?
- What can I do to help others interest? It’s not all about me.
- What can I do for the relationship?
I know when I have a crucial conversation it can be extremely easy for me to get upset, angry, or mad. In the book they call it a “Fools Choice”.
Here are some tips to use when you start down to the road to making a “Fools Choice” (we all do it!).
- Clarify what you really want.
- Clarify what you don’t want.
- Combine the two and collaborate on how you can come to a resolution.
Figuring out how to have a crucial conversation can be tough. The book gives some great suggestions on what you should do to have the conversations.
- Start with the facts. Facts set you up to tell your story. Without the facts you just have feelings and emotions.
- Tell your story. Explain how the facts make you feel, explain your why, and provide your possible conclusion.
It may be that we are completely misinterpreting or that the other person does not realize how their actions are being perceived. Writing down your facts before having the conversation may help you when you are actually in the middle of the conversation. The facts help you stay on track and make sure you hit all your points.
But what happens when my conversation begins to blow up in my face and becomes violent? You realize the conversation is no longer “safe” anymore. Or people don’t feel like the environment is a safe place so they don’t speak up and share their opinions of views. In these cases you begin to lose relationships, in the business world you lose production and money, in the medical field someone has surgery on something they aren’t suppose to or they receive the wrong medication.
Crucial Conversations explains how to create safe zones and how to pull a conversation back to a safe zone when it becomes unsafe.
Step out of the conversation.
- Make sure there is mutual respect.
- Make sure there is a mutual purpose. That others believe and understand you have good intentions and motives.
- Apologize when it is warranted.
When we have good crucial conversations, we all win. The key is knowing how to have them. I would highly recommend Crucial Conversations. The book provides a wealth of knowledge that would be great if you are a manager, salesman, a spouse, or even a parent. There are awesome examples and is easy to read. Don’t like to read? Grab the audio book and listen while commuting to and from work. Go check it out!