Crucial Conversations: What are They and Who Cares? (Ch.1)

Crucial Conversations has already taken off as a very direct and critical analysis of some of the most important issues in modern-day communication. So many times I hear people say, “I just tend to avoid confrontation and conflict.” What happens when you can no longer avoid it? Prepare yourself and reach a higher quality of life! Whether you hide and run or seize the day, you’re going to encounter tough conversations. This book is definitely turning out to be what I needed, as I am actively working to improve my communication skills and enhance the quality of my personal and professional relationships.

“Nothing fails like success.”

We think that just because we were successful at something before, means that success is guaranteed in the future. This is a mistake to believe! I am of the opinion that life is an escalator and if you’re not moving up, you’re moving down. Thus, we must continue to sharpen the saw so that we will be adequately equipped to face life’s challenges.

“Remember, to know and not to do is really not to know.”

I myself am a theorist. I have acquired many theories related to life’s twists and turns, but with little experience. It is time I put words into action.

Provided Summary: “When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions start to run strong, casual conversations become crucial. Ironically, the more crucial the conversation, the less likely we are to handle it well. The consequences of either avoiding or fouling up crucial conversations can be severe. When we fail a crucial conversation, every aspect of our lives can be affected. “

“What makes each of these conversations crucial…is that the results could have a huge impact on the quality of your life. “

“If you handle even a seemingly insignificant conversation poorly, you establish a pattern of behavior that shows up in all of your crucial conversations. “

We are so quick to think that the consequences of our actions are trivial and irrelevant. So quickly we overlook the never-ending ripples that impact the never-ending series of subsequent decisions. We ignore the emotional, spiritual, and personal implications that our words produce. Perfect practice makes perfect.

“Unfortunately, it’s human nature to back away from discussions we fear will hurt us or make things worse.”

After coming to this realization, I made a point of “getting comfortable being uncomfortable”- as we used to say in high school football. I challenge myself to have the tough conversations, and they have either worked out well or I’ve learned a valuable life lesson in the process.

“In truth, when we face crucial conversations, 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.

That seems simple enough. Walk away from crucial conversations and suffer the consequences. Handle them poorly and suffer the consequences. Or handle them well.”

This is definitely a life skill often lost on young people, especially with the pervasiveness of social media. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone expressed discontent with the communication skills of my generation. Life doesn’t stop when we get uncomfortable- in fact, it seems to double speed!

“These are the moments when, for whatever reason, we either anticipate a crucial conversation or are in the middle of one and we’re at our absolute worst- we yell; we withdraw; we say things we later regret. When conversations matter the most- that is, when conversations move from casual to crucial- we’re generally on our worst behavior.”

I needed this wake-up call. Any time we resort to yelling or violence, we clearly show a lack of competence when it comes to communication. I have personally been found guilty of yelling and withdrawing during crucial conversations. Hopefully this new-found awareness will better equip me to combat my “bad behavior” and to conduct myself responsibly.

“We’re designed wrong. When conversations turn from routine to crucial, we’re often in trouble. That’s because emotions don’t exactly prepare us to converse effectively.”

I will disagree with this statement because I don’t think there is anything wrong with our design. There are numerous people who have gained self-awareness and control despite their untrained responses. We are perfectly designed in God’s image and as such should conduct ourselves accordingly. Just because our emotions kick-in doesn’t mean we throw all our relationships, hard work, and house training out the window! Oftentimes people want to have discussions in the heat of the moment, but I have personally seen how much more effective a conversation can be when people allow themselves time to cool down.

“Our research has shown that strong relationships, careers, organizations, and communities all draw from the same source of power- the ability to talk openly about high-stakes, emotional, controversial topics.”

“For instance, high performers know how to stand up to the boss without committing career suicide.”

“In the best companies, everyone holds everyone else accountable- regardless of level or position.”

“In truth, everyone argues about important issues. But not everyone splits up. It’s how you argue that matters.”

“Do you hold in ugly opinions only to have them tumble out as sarcastic remarks or cheap shots?”

“In fact, over half of the people who are convicted of violent crimes are first-time offenders who commit crimes against friends or loved ones.”

“Violence is often preceded by prolonged periods of silence…Since they don’t know what to say or how to say it, they opt for force.”

Those who routinely failed their crucial conversations had far weaker immune systems than those who found a way to resolve them well…The longer answer suggest that the negative feelings we hold in, the emotional pain we suffer, and the constant battering we endure as we stumble our way through unhealthy conversations slowly eat away at our health.”


About Ernest Levert Jr.

Aspiring Servant-Leader studying engineering principles, financial stewardship, business management, and psychology fundamentals in order to cultivate passionate leadership, disseminate positive energy, uplift the community and ultimately create a brighter future for generations to come.
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