Crucial Conversations Summary

Kerry Patterson et al.

Crucial Conversations

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Crucial Conversations Summary

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Crucial Conversations is a self-help book that focuses on saying the right thing at the right time, especially when the outcome of the conversation is extremely important. The book was first published in 2002, while a second edition with bonus material and video components was published in 2012. This business self-help book was written by the co-founders of VitalSmarts, though its appeal reaches into all facets of social life and high-stake situations. It has enjoyed success as a go-to guide for many in the business industry, and the authors now offer workshops and training based on the strategies the book proposes.

The book’s premise involves conversations where tension and personal reaction can either make or break a desired outcome. In the business world, mastering these high-stake conversations is critical, and the source of much stress. The authors argue that these conversations do not have to be a nerve-wracking as they often are, however. By following their instructions and taking control of the conversation, readers from all walks of life, and within any sector of industry, can master the art of engaging in crucial conversations.

The biggest technique addressed in the book is the concept of dialogue. Dialogue is described as the free flow of ideas between participants in a given conversation. Too often, crucial conversations fall apart due to a lack of effective dialogue. When a person engages in effective dialogue, however, information is freely shared over a network of peers who are all seeking the same thing: relevant information. The more people engage in dialogue, the more ideas are shared, and the more ideas that are shared, the higher the instance of relevant information being shared and picked up by all parties involved in a conversation. With this relevant information, individuals can then make more informed decisions, thus leading to higher rewards for everyone involved.

The book’s focus on dialogue and critical conversations highlights a variety of subject areas, including how to effectively prepare oneself for high-impact situations through specific exercises; how to facilitate a conversation where people feel safe talking about almost anything; how to be persuasive when talking to others, as opposed to being caustic and off-putting; how to listen to and engage with individuals who are angry, upset, rude, or resistant; and how to engage in critical conversations with the aim of getting results, thus turning talk into action.

The book takes readers through specific areas of conversation and approaches these areas with the most effective tools. These areas of negotiation and dialogue include apologies, contrasting expected desires, seeking a mutually beneficial outcome, recognizing where the other person is coming from, finding common ground, and brainstorming ways to bring about mutual success.

Though the book might seem to focus on the business world, its relevance is felt in many other areas. The book’s tenets work with a variety of family issues, including marriages, divorce and relationship issues in general. Students can make use of it as well, especially when dealing with high-stake situations in school with peers and teachers. It of course lends itself to the workplace, where problems with bosses and/or co-workers take center stage and must be dealt with delicately. The book also helps in edifying one’s self for future instances where crucial conversations will be necessary, including job searches and interviews.