Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition

Category: Relationships
Author: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Al Switzler
This Month Reddit 4


by acfox13   2019-11-17

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s perfectly understandable after enduring abuse and neglect.

I’d like to share some information that really helped me, that may give you a fresh perspective. If it doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to disregard it.

Communication is like any other skill. We can improve our skill set through learning and practice. We have the amazing neuroplasticity of our brains on our side here! (neurons that fire together, wire together). When learning any new skill we move through four stages as we build new neural pathways;

1) unconscious incompetence (we don’t know what we don’t know)

2) conscious incompetence (we acknowledge that we have a lack of experience, knowledge, and understanding)

3) conscious competence (we have to actively think about and mindfully practice our new skill; over and over again, learning from each experiment and iteration)

4) unconscious competence (we no longer have to think about using our new skill, it becomes effortless to perform)

Like riding a bike, or driving a car. You had to move through all the steps until you get to the level where you don’t have to think about it anymore. You just get in and drive.

You are past step one already! You know what you don’t know. To get to step 3, you’ll need some knowledge and tools. Here are a few that I studied, learned from, and started using in my step 3 practice:

  • The 5 Love/Appreciation Languages and The 5 Apology Languages These tools taught me the ways in which we are different and unique from each other in how we like to be appreciated and communicated with. I will have friends take these quizzes so we can discuss them together and learn how to communicate more effectively with each other. Then we get to practice together.

  • 16 Personalities This is another Quiz I like to do with friends. We share our results with each other and discuss where we feel the results are applicable to ourselves, and how they’re not. We discuss how we are alike and how we are different. I also discovered that I tend to get along very well with other folks that share my intuitive/thinking characteristics from this exercise.

  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High This is a book I recommend to everyone. It really helped me learn and understand non-abusive communicating skills. Main takeaway: It is critically important to develop and maintain an environment of psychological safety to facilitate healthy communication. Otherwise, things will devolve into silence or violence.

So, that psychologically safety thing, was a huge missing piece of my puzzle. My parents aren’t psychologically safe to be vulnerable around. So now I need to learn how to make it safe. And there are been some amazing tools I’ve consumed along the way.

  • Everything from Brené Brown:
    • The Anatomy of Trust. The BRAVING acronym is gold for practicing trustworthy and respectful relationships.
    • Fitting-in, is the Opposite of Belonging
  • The Power of Vulnerability book
    • Power of Vulnerability TEDTalk
    • Listening to Shame TEDTalk
    • Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count
    • Another video on The Power of Vulnerability
  • and there’s tons more...

  • Francis Frei’s How to Build and Rebuild Trust Her trust triangle: Authenticity, Empathy, and Logic(what you say and how you say it) is gold.

  • Shawm Achor’s hilarious TEDTalk: Secret to Happiness The tips on practicing gratitude are gold.

  • Susan David’s heartfelt TEDTalk on The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage Her concept of emotional agility is insightful. Her frame that “emotions are data, not directives” and her journaling advice to “Write what you feel, tell the truth, write like no one is reading.” are gold. The “emotions are data, not directives” line helped me identify and manage all my emotional triggers and exiled emotions; bringing them from my unconscious mind into my conscious mind, where I could see them and then meditate on them using internal family systems until they resolved and I reconciled with myself.

Armed with all this knowledge and multiple strategies, it becomes easier and easier to practice step 3 - conscious competence.

Now we’re into the real deal. We have new knowledge and new strategies, time for some new experiences. This is where we have to be brave and learn to embrace what we don’t know and do it afraid, surround ourself with good people, and abandon our expectations and expect the unexpected. We get to play. And when we play, sometimes we make mistakes, accidents happen, and people get hurt. That’s okay. We use our apology skills and work on building trust again. We set, hold, and embrace boundaries to keep it psychologically safe. We practice. And eventually it will seem to come naturally to us. It just takes time, patience, and practice. You got this!

by Freonr2   2019-11-17

Crucial Conversations

A Seat at the Table: IT Leadership in the Age of Agility

Soft Skills


by BeetleB   2018-11-10
I see posts like these once in a while on HN.

I suggest folks read some good books on conversations and negotiations.


Nonviolent Communications:

Crucial Conversations:

Difficult Conversations:

Negotiation books:

Bargaining For Advantage:

Getting To Yes:

Getting Past No (billed as a negotiations book, but really more of a conversations book):

I strongly recommend reading Influence before you read these - much of what is in the books above will make more sense once you've read Influence.

When you read these, keep in mind: Change is hard. Don't expect to read these and become good communicators quickly. It may take a few years of stumbling and practice.

I see a mixture of comments agreeing and disagreeing with the original submission. For those who disagree: Most of what the author is saying is in agreement with what the books say:

If your goal is to change someone, you will either fail, or will succeed at the cost of the relationship (and relationships at work do matter).

Another important related point: If you cannot summarize why the other person is acting this way without using phrases like "stubborn", "irrational" or similar negatives, then it means you have no idea about the other person's concerns and motives, and are being lazy. It is easier to label, and much harder to probe effectively. Additionally, people often act stubborn because they realize you are not really interested in their perspective. Internally their thought process (which is very rational) is "This person does not really want to hear me out, so I'm not going to invoke too many neurons engaging with him and will just dig in my heels." - which is why a lot of books focus a lot on listening skills (which includes skills to signal that you are listening - you may in reality be listening just fine but the other person does not know it - so you signal it by summarizing their stance).

A lot of the comments here are invoking false dichotomies. Since HN has a comment limit, I'll address some here:

>I don't believe you can have a successful software team with individuals who can't take a code review well.

This is tangential. You can give feedback in a code review poorly, or efficiently. Both ways allow for you to point out problems with the other's code. One way will not be taken well. The other way has a higher chance of being taken well. A big step forward is to realize you can have your cake and eat it too.

>I started to try and reason with people with carefully crafted questions to guide them towards my goal.

Leading questions is a bad idea (all the communications books say it). Learn how to state your concerns. It is OK to ask questions if genuinely curious. But if you want to point something out, learn how to state it in a non-defensive manner.

(3 separate comments below):

>If Kara's emotions and defensiveness can't handle a clearly articulated, rational, objective argument against design decisions, then for the sake of the product and the company, she probably needs to find another job. Avoiding discussions doesn't work for me.

>Learned to let go and he has his parts of the code base and I have mine.

>And this is how you end up with a terrible, in-cohesive product.

Again, false dichotomies. The solution is not to be quiet and let it go. The solution is to learn how to talk about the issues effectively. One of the books calls this "The Fool's Choice" - thinking that either you have to be quiet and not air your concerns (to save relationships), or that you have to air them and damage the relationship.

>It's either you convince them, or perhaps they convince you. Logic wins.

Logic alone rarely wins. One key point in one of the books: Don't pretend that emotions should not be part of the decision making process. The reality is that emotions are already part of the decision making process. If you get angry that someone cannot take your feedback well, emotions are present.

>It's safe to assume Kara wrote this article.

It is safe to assume that the author of this comment is unwilling to question his views on the topic.

That's what assumptions get you.

>I have seen more technical damage done by nice and competent people deferring to bullies in the workplace than by legitimate disagreements expressed passionately.

Another false dichotomy. What the submission describes is normal among non-bullies.

>The flaw here is that you assume that "Kara" will learn from her mistakes. Not always the case.

It is a similar flaw to assume that merely telling her what mistakes she made will make her learn from them. Definitely often not the case.