Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: Crucial Conversations

June 2020

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

By Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library. 

Sometimes ideas must be conveyed and understood urgently by multiple parties, but the discussion itself can be difficult or messy, with certain parties growing angry or leaving entirely misunderstood. "Crucial Conversations" gives leaders a guide to not only having these critical talks, but also making sure they are done efficiently and successfully. Engaging in dialogues where stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions are strong, is not easy, but this book provides readers with useful strategies for success. 


Three takeaways:

  1. Identify what you want. Knowing that the conversation is crucial means that you've acknowledged that the issue relates to people other than yourself. However, it is vitally important that you know personally how this issue affects you and what exactly you want to see done about it. Clarity of vision and purpose is key when entering a potentially uncomfortable conversation. 

  2. Understand effective communication skills. Conveying your purpose effectively doesn't mean an aggressive declaration, but rather using techniques to be best understood. One technique suggested is that people always relate and listen better to stories, so you should understand yours and how it can be told. 

  3. Create a safe space for others. Establishing safety in high-stress conversations is vital for all parties involved to remain calm and composed and not feel that the discussion has been unfair or unbalanced. One must listen to other parties, even when they blow up or clam up, and make sure you explore others' views so you understand where they are coming from. By speaking persuasively rather than obsessively, avoiding unnecessary conflict and being unafraid to apologize, one creates an understanding and open minded space for successful dialogue. 

"Crucial Conversations" gives readers a tool kit for tackling uncomfortable discussions with wisdom and clarity. By learning how to approach having important conversations and completing them successfully, one can finally take action towards whatever it is that must be decided and accomplished.