Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How To Communicate Best When It Matters Most

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian, & Al Switzler crucial conversations —Tool for talking when stakes are high.

The author’s define a crucial conversation as: “A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong” (pg.3). How do we handle them? Typically we do one of three things; run from them, trip over them, or stop and “handle them well” (pg.3). The latter being the most difficult to master. When we fail, we miss the opportunities that can strengthen relationships and build connections in both our personal and business lives.
The author’s findings are based over several decades of research with thousands of people. Put simply they recommend the following steps:
          1)    Start with the heart. 
          a.    What is it that you really want and clarify want you don’t want?
          2)    Learn to Look.
          a.      Are others moving to silence or violence and what content and conditions lead them there? 
          3)    If they are, step out and--Make it safe.
          a.      Apologize, contrast to fix misunderstanding, and find mutual purpose.
          4)    Master Your Story
          a.      Analyze the emotions they bring
          5)    State Your Path.
          a. Share your facts and tell your story.
          6)  Explore Other’s Path.
            a. Express interest, acknowledge, restate, and prime their thinking.
          7. Move to Action.
          a. Turn your crucial conversations into great discussions.

Oh if it was only that easy! It’s not. The author recognize it takes years of practice to do this well. Their recommendations is to pick a relationship, an ongoing conversation, and let others know you are trying to improve the quality of your dialogs. Have them practice with you and run through one element at a time until you become more familiar with the process.

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