Customer Reviews: Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior
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on December 2, 2004
I surprised myself by reading almost the entire book during a two-week trip to Thailand w. The authors do a great job of showing how NOT stepping up has allowed catastrophic consquences to result. For example, the co-pilot who chose not to speak up when the pilot was preparing to take off in freezing weather with ice building up on the wings. All that survived was the cockpit tape that has the copilot hinting at the danger and not taking a powerful stand with the pilot. Our circumstances are not likely to be that drastic, but it is really very serious business.

I like that the book recognizes that speaking up can be risky and talks about how to make reasonably sure that you won't hurt your career or relationship when you choose to speak up.

The keys to managing the conversation so you don't get off in the weeds and get a valuable result begin with stepping back for a moment and remembering how you got to your reaction. The authors say we start by seeing or hearing something, draw come conclusions, react and then take action. If you review what exactly are the facts you started with and what are the interpretations or conclusions you came to, you are free to share it as a story the other person can understand. If you speak as if your conclusions are facts, you can lose the rapport you need to have a good outcome.

I like the question the authors suggest asking yourself to get to how to start a conversation that doesn't amount to an attack: "What would cause a reasonable, rational and decent person to act like this?" Answering that question puts me in a frame of mind to begin with an attitude of mutual respect.

The other major key for me that I got out of the book is realizing that when someone does react badly during a conversation like this is that two key safety issues could be percieved as missing: mutual respect and mutual purpose. If you are ready to restore a sense of mutual respect and mutual purpose, then you can get back out of the weeds of someone reacting in ways you don't intend or that surprise you.

Providing a way of knowing what to do if things go wrong in the conversation is key to my being willing to take on having the conversation in the first place. Most people just keep quiet and there is a cost to that. Some people hold back until they blow up and that doesn't work very well either.

That is my three paragraph teaser about the book. I like that the book is based on over 20 years of studying people who excell at this type of conversation and distilling how they do it.
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on March 17, 2005
If you have read Crucial Conversations, then you are already very familiar with this book and its contents. The fact is, this book is a re-hashing of Crucial Conversations; however, this time, the principles shared seem more applicable than they were before.

I think that this book is the real and better application of the authors' main principles. It is an easy and quick read and the language is very simple and direct. The book discusses ways to have a confrontation in which results are gained and friendships are not lost. It is a win-win approach. I do believe that this book can and does help. I did not particularily like the Crucial Conversations because it wasn't real earth shattering and seemed to simple. This time, however, the subject of "confrontations" seems more open to the authors' intentions-- thus a better read.

This is a good book to read and a better book to apply.
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As I read this exceptionally informative book, I was again reminded of the fact that the Chinese word for "crisis" has two meanings: peril and opportunity. Since posting the review, a reader's comment (please see below) identifies an essay that brings into doubt the common belief in the dual meaning to which I referred. However, I remain convinced, linguistic issues aside, that every crisis does pose both peril or opportunity and that how we respond is for us to determine.

* * *

As those who have been or are now involved in process simplification initiatives already know, every problem encountered offers a valuable learning opportunity. The same is also true when encountering "broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior" either within or beyond the workplace. The authors of this volume address questions such as these:

What's a "crucial confrontation"?
What to do before one occurs?
How to know when -- and when NOT -- to initiate one?
How to "get your head right before opening your mouth"?
How to begin a crucial confrontation?
How to involve and engage others to take appropriate action?
How to make keeping commitments (almost) painless?
What to do when others "get sidetracked, scream, or sulk"?
What to do after a crucial confrontation?
How to gain commitment and move to action?
How to solve "big, sticky, complicated problems"?
How to deal with the truly tough? (i.e. the twelve "yeh buts")

The authors also provide four appendices: A self-assessment for measuring confrontation skills, "The Six-Source Model," "When Things Go Right," and discussion questions for reading groups. Although any one of the appendices is worth far more than the cost of this book, their greatest value will be derived when the information and counsel are correlated with the material which the authors share in the nine chapters.

My own experience in the business world suggests that "broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior" really do offer both perils and opportunities. A careful reading of this book and then an equally careful application of the advice which the authors offer will, in my opinion, help reduce (if not eliminate) the former while helping to achieve effective fulfillment of the latter.
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on July 20, 2006
The ideas presented in this book seem to be excellent ways to have critical oonversations, but I found two things lacking. First, reading about conversations and making them happen are two different things. Although it's no fault of the book, I think it will be difficult to put these easily into play without practice.

Second, there are no examples I noticed where the outcome WAS as bad as it could be. For example, one conversation centered on a man who suspects his wife of an affair. He confronts her only to find that she has a valid excuse for her actions, and is not in fact unfaithful. What if she had said "yes, I'm having an affair"? There's no follow up when the answer IS what you've hoped it won't be. Those seem like they could be the most critical conversations of all.
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on July 31, 2005
I work as a first line production manager at a Fortune 500 company. This book has helped me in developing my skills in confronting people on performance issues. Even though the book may make it seem easier than we all know it is, it lays out very clear fundamental steps on what to do. I think the outline is the fundamental part we all miss when we seem to fail at crucial confrontations. This book is not the bible, but if you are having issues with employees or family members not holding true to committments this book will teach you simple to follow guidelines, so that the next time is more successful.
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on December 14, 2004
This book has helped me to enter the sometimes scary world of teenage children. It gave me skills to keep "in dialogue" with my children even when confronting them on "bad behavior, broken promises, or failed expectations." Since first reading this book, I have practiced these skills and am getting better with my practice. I love the concept of keeping the conversation "safe". Its amazing that I can confront my children on issues that before they would blow up, but now we are able to agree and see things the same way. I love to end with the question - Do you see it the same way, or have I missed something? This helps them to know that I really have their best interests at heart. This book is a must-read for parents, teachers, employers, and employees. It has helped me to better my relationships in all aspects of my life.
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VINE VOICEon September 23, 2004
We all have confrontations to deal with in our daily lives, both at work and at home. I head technology audit for a company and confrontation is a daily fact of life. Holding people accountable for actions, inactions and trying to change behavior is a stressful part of many people's jobs. This book provides an effective approach to handling all aspects of confrontation.

It even provides the often overlooked need for (effective) confrontation. Book illustrates this point with the example of the Challenger space shuttle tragedy (could have been averted had known issues been raised) and the tragic-comic example of a patient who went into hospital with an ear ache and came out with a vasectomy - because he wouldn't speak up!

Importantly, the authors provide practical approaches that can be applied in the real world in everyday life. This book's lessons can be applied in both professional and personal life. Wish I had it years ago.

This is a field guide for generating postive outcomes from confrontation in all aspects of life. An excellent what, when and how guide.
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on September 21, 2004
I saved my job by reading this book. One of my co-workers and I were having a difficult time getting along. I loved my job, but this friction between the two of us was really starting to bug me and although the job market is tight right now, I had decided to float my resume around and see what was out there.

BUt, I went to the bookstore and saw CRUCIAL CONFRONTATIONS. It had so much great advice on how to deal with confrontation in a positive way. By using the books advice, I was able to "confront" my co-worker and I realized we really were not that far apart in opinions...we just expressed them differently. It would be a stretch to say that we will be best friends, but I do think we have reached a common ground and I no longer feel the need to leave my job.

Go buy this book if you are have difficulty in your job. marriage or family...It is worth every penny.
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on November 6, 2007
Having read both this book and "Crucial Conversations" more than once, let me say that they are both worth reading more than once! In its latest reading, I used this book for a book study at work, guiding my team (I'm their boss) through the book and the lessons in the book. The team had been largely dysfunctional, had serious problems with communication, apparently had no idea of how to deal with confrontations, and might very well have imploded completely. Over the course of a few months, we read this book chapter by chapter (with some breaks), discussed each of the lessons, and started to put them into play.

Today, the team communicates far better, has become highly functional, has improved their interpersonal skills, and are a joy to work with.

Several of the team said that they were already starting to put some of the things they'd learned into practice in their personal lives, and I can see them applying them at work daily.

The lessons that you can glean from this book are HUGE. If you find yourself struggling to have real conversations about issues small and large, if you have a relationship that is in some jeopardy, or if you just want to be more effective in a leadership or teaming role, read these books.

For instance, the idea of mastering your stories... what is it that you assume about the motivations of the other person, and how do those assumptions generate feelings which drive YOUR behaviors? Learning about your "stories", how to discuss them with others, and how that affects you could be the start of something wonderful for you.

Read these books. Now.
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Although confrontation is difficult for many people, it is often necessary. Failure to confront someone over bad behavior may be misinterpreted as approval. Confrontations can help bring people back to a better, more productive course. However, confrontations also can go off track and become shouting matches (or worse). Authors Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler outline a method for approaching confrontations when the stakes are particularly high; those are the crucial confrontations. Boiled down to its essentials, the methodology consists of focusing on facts, remaining calm, listening to the other person with respect and working to motivate the other person and to enable a change in behavior. The book is light, anecdotal and easy to read. Yet, we find that it offers so much sound advice that any manager, parent or spouse could find something useful.
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