Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Crucial Conversations

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In many Crucial Conversationssituations, especially when it comes to leadership, what we say can make or break the outcome. Such is the premise of the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high. What we say, and the way we conduct ourselves at certain, critical times determine our success or lack thereof.

Crucial Conversations was written by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler who have formed a company called Vital Smarts to provide training that helps teams and organizations achieve high results. I have not taken their training, but based on this book, and the corporate case studies, their courses no-doubt help organizations produce better results.

The authors 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.” They give examples of many different situations where the conversations are crucial; it’s not just in high-stakes business.

When we face crucial conversation we can do one of three things:

  • We can avoid them.
  • We can face them and handle them poorly.
  • We can face them and handle them well.

The book focuses on ideas and techniques we can use to handle crucial conversations well, gain the trust of those with whom we interact, and improve our ability to communicate with others. I have noticed a marked improvement in my own interactions with others since I read this book. If you find yourself in a situation where you depend on working with, living with or interacting with people, and you rely on those interactions, this book will be of great help.

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