399 of 411 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2003
I bought this book after undergoing a first, miserable mediation session with my soon-to-be-exhusband. The stakes are high--it's our property settlement, and my husband had been cashing out the savings and spending them, while leaving me to take care of the 2 mortgages and other obligations. It was easy, but not very productive, to point out where I felt he was wrong.
I started reading Crucial Conversations and using the tools as well as I could, while watching our mediator model them. I stopped participating in the accuse/counter-accuse game, and focused on bringing information to the table, while I used the crucial conversation tools to keep our discussions productive.
The book starts out with a self-assessment to determine your own communications strengths and weaknesses.
My biggest faux-pas with my husband was to cause Respect violations. The CC tools gave me a usable set of actions to take to set things back on track:
* Apologize (I'm sorry if that sounded disrespectful.)
* Contrast (I don't want to make you out to be the bad guy, I'm just concerned that I won't have any funds left to cover the emergencies.)
- Commit to seek mutual purpose (I'll stay in this process as long as it takes for us to reach agreement.)
- Recognize the purpose behind his strategy (It's understandable that you're unhappy with our situation and that you're trying to do something to feel better.)
- Invent a mutual purpose (I want us both to be happy and secure after the divorce.)
- Brainstorm new strategies (Maybe we can just focus on the numbers for now, and put off worrying about how we're going to divide things until later.
Using these tools has kept the dialogue moving forward, and we're very close to agreement, after just two more sessions.
The Crucial Conversations tools won't change another person who's determined to be unreasonable into a perfectly cooperative person, but they will give you a sane way to stay in dialogue and still hold the other person accountable for his or her own irrational attitudes and behavior.
I think this book is a must-have for anyone who has had a hard time dealing with conflict. I'll be reaching for it again, I know.
143 of 156 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2003
When I obtained a copy of Crucial Conversations, I had very high expectations of this book having read the authors' outstanding earlier work, The Balancing Act. I must say I wasn't disappointed; in fact, I was delighted! Crucial Conversations is an extremely insightful and very practical book. Indeed, it is a very rare combination to find a book that contains profound ideas as well as provides actionable tools and Crucial Conversations delivers both.
The book addresses a topic that is largely misunderstood and vastly underestimated: high stakes dialogue. The authors define crucial conversations as those where 1) stakes are high, 2) opinions vary, and 3) emotions run strong, or in other words, much of both our professional and personal lives. We're all involved in crucial conversations at home and at work but most of us are not very aware of the interpersonal dynamics at play and/or we're unskilled in how to respond differently. The book helps the reader first understand the principles involved in "crucial conversations" but then also helps the reader develop real skills and abilities to choose or change their communication patterns. The end result is remarkable. The book's impact is a much bigger idea than simple communication--it's all about effective human interaction and getting results with and through people.
The book is highly readable, extremely engaging and actually quite fun. It is filled with illustrations and stories from all walks of life: business examples, personal examples and family examples. The fact that the principles and skills the authors teach can be applied in all dimensions of life--work, home, personal--is very appealing to me and made the book extremely helpful on many fronts.
I benefitted most from this book from a business standpoint and have found that applying these skills has made a real difference at work. I'm more courageous and more considerate at the same time. I understand people better but I especially understand myself better. I'm far more conscious and aware of my dialogue with others and I've greatly improved my skills and abilities to lead effectively. The bottom line is, I'm helping my company get better results and I'm far more effective personally. If more people in business were to apply these principles and skills in the frequent crucial conversations they have at work, they would make better decisions, achieve better results and do it all in a way that would build the trust and strengthen relationships. I couldn't give a book higher marks. Outstanding!
164 of 181 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2011
We all face situations in life where things are tense and saying the right things is crucial. This is what the authors call a "crucial conversation." As opposed to a casual discussion, crucial conversations happen between two or more people when opinions vary, stakes are high, and emotions run strong. Whether you are approaching a boss who is breaking his or her own policies, critiquing a colleague's work, or talking to a team member who isn't keeping commitments, keeping the conversation productive can be very difficult.
The main technique the authors teach is the talent of dialogue. This is the free flow of meaning between two or more people. People who use this technique are able to find a way to get all relevant information from themselves and others out in the open and make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool. These people try hard to ensure that all ideas find their way into the forum; and as this "pool of shared meaning" grows, it helps people by exposing them to more accurate and relevant information so they can make better decisions.
In this, the 2nd edition, the book ads access to new material including a video vault that illustrates each of the authors' techniques being acted out, new case studies, and new tools to help you maneuver effectively through crucial conversations. This wise and witty guide gives you the tools you need to step up to life's most difficult and important conversations, say what's on your mind, and achieve positive outcomes. You'll learn how to:
* Prepare for high-impact situations with a six-minute mastery technique
* Make it safe to talk about almost anything
* Be persuasive, not abrasive
* Keep listening when others blow up or clam up
* Turn crucial conversations into the action and results you want
All in all a great book for developing advanced people skills. Another must read in this genre is Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
189 of 217 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2007
This is kind of a fluffy business book... I generally hate these books, but this one has a creamy nougat center of knowledge that I've never encountered before. At 200 pages, its a must read. Please ignore the Franklin Covey vibe: the authors really have something important to say.
This book solidifies what many have said before: those who genuinely understand how to communicate have all the power in this world. It's not about knowledge, skills, manipulation, or strength... Those who can get groups of people who distrust each other to come to genuine consensus will always have power. Why? Because its so incredibly difficult... and its so incredibly important.
This book helps you identify the behaviors that help -- and the behaviors that hurt -- when building consensus. Make no mistake about it: human beings are poorly designed to get along with each other. Our brains are wired for competition. At most we co-operate with genetically similar groups. Evolution has wired us to not want to work together with people too different from ourselves, lest we threaten our own survival.
That may have been useful 2000 years ago in highly competitive tribal cultures, but in the modern world such prejudice is usually counterproductive.
This book helps you identify which behaviors may be hindering you. When confronted, a human's instinct is fight or flight. In a conversation, the fight instinct comes out in argument, sarcasm, or belittling. Likewise, the flight instinct comes out as keeping quiet and doing nothing, or totally ignoring what the other person said... typical passive-aggressive behavior.
This book also presents exercises to help you keep a cool head, communicate clearly, and get things done... despite your evolutionary wiring.
If you read this book, and practice their exercises a lot, you will slowly gain a reputation as somebody who can really make things happen.
230 of 265 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2002
PAY THE [money] this book costs and avoid costly litigation, improve your communication, better manage expectations, defuse pent up emotions, and let your company be more productive!
I just finished Crucial Conversations and the first thing that I did as I laid down the book, was to log on to Amazon and order 30 copies to give to the managers within my company. I am the owner of my company of 600 employees and I am constantly searching for better ways to improve communication among our staff and employees. I am going to make sure that my HR team includes these principles into their training.
As I read through this book, I found that so many of our issues within the company would have been eliminated or diminished if we had embraced and utilized the tools laid out within this book. I could have avoided a costly lawsuit if these principles had been utilized when we were disciplining and eventually terminating an unproductive employee.
The authors have blended the humor of Dilbert, with the vision of Stephen Covey, with the practicality of consultants who have been down in the trenches of some of the biggest corporations in the US. It is an easy and enjoyable read.
I also found as I read the book that I kept thinking about how to use these tools to improve the conversations in my personal life, with my wife and with my children. I would love to see a second book that focused on Crucial Conversations at Home.
111 of 127 people found the following review helpful
Wanna argue? Nope. Then you need Kerry Patterson and his co-writers, who describe techniques for effective negotiation and conflict resolution in the context of important, potentially life-changing conversations. Examples include talking yourself into a promotion, bringing up important information at meetings and working out problems with your spouse. Some tips will sound familiar, such as knowing what you really want and being open to alternatives. However, the book also highlights some themes that are often forgotten in negotiations, such as making it safe for others to express their true feelings and desires. The authors explain how to avoid getting forced into false either-or choices and tell you how to remain alert for unstated alternatives or possibilities. This lively book includes many examples drawn from business and personal relationships. We recommend it in particular to those are new to negotiations and conflict resolution, though it teaches solid skills that any manager - or any marriage partner, for that matter - could benefit from mastering.
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2006
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a great book on communicating and conflict resolution. It is well-written and the examples communicate the intended points without distracting from the flow of the book.
The concepts in here are invaluable. They are presented in a way where one can start using them quickly in everyday life. For example, the author talks about that good communicators are always scanning to see if the listener feels safe. This sounds easy enough, but is that really something in the forefront of most people's minds? By contrasting what the average person does with what a good listener does, the finer points of emotional intelligence are called out in a way that the reader can can digest and be specific around with respect to goal setting.
This book also presents the basics of a cognitive model of how emotions get triggered and how these emotions are related to needs. This is very important to understand when feelings are running high and the way it is presented, one can apply it to difficult conversations to get at essential needs.
Overall, this is an excellent book and I recommend it without reservation. I also think Difficult Conversations is a nice compliment to this book, but if I had to get one or the other, I would probably get this one.
136 of 160 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2005
I bought this book because: 1) I want to be better in communication (in general) and; 2) it had great reviews (Steve Covey!!). I finished it in 4 days and must say I was not all that impressed.
It reads like a text-book in that they (the authors) are always asking us to apply some new system of operation. They remind us that one reading is not enough and much time must be spent in mastering their principles. The principles do appear correct, well considered, and are clearly proposed. They are certainly getting back to the basics of communication and there are a few wonderful revelations (but nothing earth shattering).
Further, the book has a behavioral science/study feel to it but no footnotes or extensive referencing is made. The case studies are general and simple- the examples throughout the book are slightly feeble and even more simple. I was continually bothered in reading a book based on years of "research" which was void of notated study/notes/details. In the end, it lacks experiemental conviction and convincing.
I appreciated the effort made to present information and models in simple ways. I appreciate the motivational tone of the book. But, I was seeking something new and exciting- some earth shattering information based on years of study.
In the end, this book is a simplistic discussion of healthy dialogue which is presented in clever models. It is not a page turner!!
Its greatest flaw is the absence of solid case study or examples; its greatest strength is its simple presentation and kind tone.
There has got to be better texts available on the subject....
67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2002
As the program manager of a cross-functional product development team, I daily arbitrate or engage in emotionally charged crucial conversations. The principles in this book enable me to identify these crucial situations, diffuse tension, draw out meaning from each of the parties, and ultimately reach the best action plan possible. Most importantly, since I started using the principles in this book, mutual respect and unity on my team has increased dramatically--positional debate and argument is almost non-existent. Reading this book also helped me change my perspective of crucial conversations. Instead of fearing and avoiding them, I now recognize them as incredible opportunities for me to lead.
My recurring thought as I read this book was that these are "fundamental truths". The authors use accessible writing with minimal jargon and no word invention. Additionally, they reinforce their theories with an abundance of applicable technique. These are not trendy gimmicks that manipulate people into agreeing with you. Rather, the authors teach fundamentally sound communication skills that enable the reader to fully understand others and then to explain their own perspective in a respectful, non-confrontational way. The principles taught in this book are universally applicable. Not only have I used them in business, but they also help me strengthen my communication with family. Likewise, I know I will use these skills in the team oriented Stanford MBA program that I will begin this fall.
40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2003
Of the three books with similar titles: Difficult Conversations, Fierce Conversations, and Crucial Conversations, I find this the best by a longshot.
Fierce Conversations is a great read and a real pick-me-up, but it was more of an oh-yeah-i-should-do-that "reminder" than it was a wellspring of new insights. I'm sure the author would be an outstanding 1:1 coach, but the book didn't leave me with as much of a useful/memorable framework as did Crucial Conversations.
Difficult Conversations, by comparison, is heavy on frameworks, research, theory -- but it ends up reading like a dissertation. Though I'm an avid reader, I found it difficult to get through. I found the other Harvard Negotiation Project volumes much more accessible -- e.g., Getting To Yes, Getting Past No, etc.
Crucial Conversations is for me the happy medium between the two. It has the right balance of analysis, frameworks, and coaching. It's very accessible yet deep where it needs to be. It also carries a Coveyesque tone that any Seven Habits fan will find refreshing.
Certainly you can't go wrong reading all three of these books. But if I had to choose one, I'd go with Crucial Conversations.