Crucial Conversations: Mastering Crucial Conversations (Ch.2)


This chapter provided great insight regarding how we approach confrontational situations and the various responses that we find ourselves giving- whether we recognize it or not. By preparing in advance to deal with difficult situations, we will ultimately get more out of life, our relationships, and our careers. Also, many of us would agree that mutual understanding is one of the keys to successful conflict resolution and problem solving.

“When it comes to risky, controversial  and emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all relevant information (from themselves and others) out into the open.” 

That’s it. At the core of every successful conversation lies the free flow of relevant information. People openly and honestly express their opinions, share their feelings, and articulate their theories. They willingly and capably share their views, even when their ideas are controversial or unpopular.”

I would venture to say that almost every “messy” situation that we encounter could be abated simply by ensuring that all parties involved work towards mutual understanding of the situation at hand. People have to get better expressing themselves and that only happens if they try.

“People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool- even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs. Now, obviously they don’t agree with every idea; they simply do their best to ensure that all ideas find their way into the open.”

Once again, by striving to ensure that all of our feelings and sentiments are expressed and encouraging others to do the same, even if all parties involved don’t agree, animosity will be decreased and emotions controlled.

“When people purposefully withhold meaning from one another, individually smart people can do collectively stupid things.”

People in groups are sometimes so scared to have their opinion judged that they would let the group be completely irresponsible. Group think is a powerful phenomenon. All it takes is one person bold enough to express himself. Then others will follow suit.

“As people sit through an open discussion where ideas are shared, they take part in the free flow of meaning. Eventually they understand why the shared solution is the best solution, and they’re committed to act.”

It’s one thing to not disagree with a solution but it’s another to wholeheartedly support a solution. We are so quick to deflect blame and don’t take responsibility for our own actions or the actions in which we hold membership. However, if members of an organization all actively commit to the results, then it will become imperative to get all the facts on the table.

“Conversely, when people aren’t involved, when they sit back quietly during touchy conversations, they’re rarely committed to the final decision. Since their ideas remain in their heads and their opinions never make it into the pool, they end up quietly criticizing and passively resisting. Worse still, when others force their ideas into the pool, people have a harder time accepting the information. They may say they’re on board, but then walk away and follow through halfheartedly. To quote Samuel Butler, ‘He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still.'”

We all know these people- the folks that sit back, don’t contribute to the solution process and then complain about why something doesn’t work or that an idea wasn’t well thought through. The key is to be proactive and call these people out in a non-hostile and effective manner. Ask for their opinion during discussions without making them feel uncomfortable. “What do you think, Bob?” Likewise, sometimes we have to step in when people are too focused on having their opinion forced. When everyone involved is committed to the established vision, then the more opinionated individuals will give way and the more passive people will speak their mind (they are a part of the group for a reason).

Overall, it takes teamwork to make the dream work- whether in an organization, a relationship, a friendship, a business, or any other group of individuals. #DoBetter


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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