Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
By Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan (2002)
Believe that dialogue, no matter the circumstances, is always an option.
In the best companies, everyone holds everyone else accountable—regardless of level or position.
- You must have the right motives, you must care about the other party’s goals, interests and values
- Clarify what you want for yourself, the other party, and the relationship
- Make it clear that your purpose is to work toward a common outcome
- Get all the relevant information and thoughts out in the open (transparency is important to progress the conversation)
- When things go south step back, make it safe, then go back in. People become defensive if they don’t feel safe
- Try to find commonality. When you focus on what’s different it’s easier to think “us-vs-them” and how they are unchangeable
Concerned that although the strike was over, the battle wasn’t, a manager asked one of the authors to lend a hand. So he met with the two groups of leaders (both managers and union heads) and asks them to do one thing. Each group was to go into a separate room and write out its goals for the company on flip-chart-sized paper.
When they finished their assignment, the groups then swapped places with the goal of finding anything—maybe just a morsel—but anything they might have in common. After a few minutes the two groups returned to the training room. They were positively stunned. It was as if they had written the exact same lists.
💡 You’re doing it wrong if:
- You try to win the argument
- You punish the other person
- You avoid the uncomfortable situation
- Consulting: gain ideas and support without bogging down the decision-making process
- Voting: there are a good number of options and speed is important (not time wasted talking)
- Consensus: can produce unity and high-quality decisions… can slo be a waste of time. Use “with (1) high-stakes and complex issues or (2) issues where everyone absolutely must support the final choice”