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Showing 1-10 of 1,017 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,295 reviews
on September 8, 2014
Conversations move life forward. They can also stop things from moving forward. Relationships end on conversations and begin. Teams are formed and broken apart. Goals are made, expectations laid out, visions happen, all around conversations.

Feelings get hurt in conversations, lies are told, deception, betrayal, all of these can happen in conversations.

Enter the book Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. I heard Joseph Grenny, one of the authors speak on this topic recently at the leadership summit and got a lot out of his session.

All of us know the feeling of this kind of conversation and we know that this is where life changes.

Here are 10 things I got from the book that I have found helpful in my life and leadership:

1. When we face crucial conversations, we can do one of three things: We can avoid them, We can face them and handle them poorly, or We can face them and handle them well. At the heart of almost all chronic problems in our organizations, our teams, and our relationships lie crucial conversations—ones that we’re either not holding or not holding well. Christians and church staffs are notorious for avoiding crucial conversations. This is why churches often split, people leave hurt and visions never move forward. Instead of doing the hard work in a conversation, they are avoided. When in reality, because of what is at stake (salvation) and because of the calling of Jesus, we should do a better job of having crucial conversations.
2. Individuals who are the most influential—who can get things done and at the same time build on relationships—are those who master their crucial conversations. We all know this to be true. If you aren't very good at dialogue, you sit back in wonder at those who are. They are able to gain more influence, get more done and people want to be on their team and a part of what they are doing. This is why raising the value of this skill and getting better at it matters so much. Things move forward or stop around conversations.
3. The mistake most of us make in our crucial conversations is we believe that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend. Grenny said this at the summit and it grabbed my attention. This is one of, if not the main reason, most conversations stop and things do not move forward. Fear. Fear of a relationship ending, something stopping, getting fired or hurting someone. Yet, if we don't tell the truth, we often can't be a friend.
4. People rarely become defensive simply because of what you’re saying. They only become defensive when they no longer feel safe. The problem is not the content of your message, but the condition of the conversation. If you are a boss and want honest feedback and conversation, people can't fear for their jobs or that you will yell at them. Recently, there has been a lot of writing online about pastors abusing people, creating a culture of fear, yelling at staff members, elders and volunteers and it blows my mind. If you are known for that as a pastor, you should be embarrassed.
5. Be careful not to apologize for your views. This can be easy to do and it often happens as a way to soften your opinion or the blow in a conversation, but you shouldn't apologize for what you think. It is what you think. It might be hard or unpopular to say, but don't shy away from it. You may be wise to change how you phrase it, but always be willing to share what you think in a conversation.
6. One of the ironies of dialogue is that, when talking with those holding opposing opinions, the more convinced and forceful you act, the more resistant others become. I done this very easily in the past. Yet, this practice keeps people from buying in and helping to make something happen. When we do this, we don't understand why people aren't on board. The reason is the harder we push our way, the harder they push their way.
7. Speaking in absolute and overstated terms does not increase your influence, it decreases it. The converse is also true—the more tentatively you speak, the more open people become to your opinions. The more harshly we speak or the more we give the impression that there is only one way, the less likely it becomes that people will speak up. Now, on issues like vision, it must be clear and have agreement. But, in conversations, if we give the impression that something has been decided or that we aren't open to suggestions, we will kill discussion.
8. When we feel the need to push our ideas on others, it’s generally because we believe we’re right and everyone else is wrong. This is another way the previous one. If you find yourself pushing your ideas, you aren't having a good dialogue and instead are simply giving out orders. That may be your leadership style, but it won't accomplish a healthy team environment and in the end, your church or business will never reach its full potential.
9. The more you care about an issue, the less likely you are to be on your best behavior. As a leader or a person in a relationship, you must learn this well. This was an eye opening insight for me. I get very passionate about things, as most people do, and when I do, I can shut down dialogue and end up hurting people. We do this, often unintentionally because we care about something, because we believe we are right and have the only way forward.
10. The fuzzier the expectations, the higher the likelihood of disappointment. When a crucial conversation ends, there must be clear expectations and guidance moving forward. It cannot be fuzzy or gray. Otherwise, a conversation has not ended, it is simply on pause.
All in all, this was an incredibly helpful book. Some of it covered things I already knew but showed some helpful insights. I've already seen a change in some of my conversations with leaders at my church and in my family through this book. Definitely one I'd recommend.
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on April 15, 2016
Fantastic! I have been told I am a gifted leader for all of my life. I'm a business owner and employer. I am very involved in community organizations at a leadership level. My two most glaring weaknesses as a leader, parent, spouse, etc, are avoiding confrontation (which really hurts accountability and holds an organization back) and speaking more strongly and emotionally than I want when I feel passionate about something or when I have let the avoidance go too long and the problem has become too large. I need this book. As I read it, I saw myself described far too accurately, It was a real eye-opener. I studied it for a couple of weeks, and essentially created my own "rewrite" of it in very summary form.

I have to say that this is one of a very small handful of books that has made my "life-changer" list (the only other so far, outside of the scriptures, is Executive Toughness by Jason Selk). Absolutely phenomenal, if you are willing to learn and do what is taught. It's a long book, but is really just a handful of principles that will change the way you interact, increase your confidence, and improve your relationships and ability to communicate persuasively.
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on February 13, 2017
Excellent! One of the most life-changing books I've ever read (and I'm a voracious reader). What you'll learn in this book applies to your personal and professional life. As a woman, I wish I would have read this book years ago. I would have been better prepared to ask for promotions and been a better listener as a mother. I've purchased 7 books as gifts for college-aged kids. I wish I would have known about this book years ago. It's a book that you can re-read many times and still gain tips to help you through crucial conversations.
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on January 4, 2015
This is simply an amazing book. If you never have those conversations that get you blood boiling or the ones you wish you could hide from, this book isn't for you, and you're probably not from planet earth, which means you probably can't read either. But for the rest of us, this is a must read. It really provides the tools necessary to think about how we have emotional conversations. For example, it explains how we move from facts, to stories we tell ourselves, to emotional reactions to action. It's the stories we tell ourselves that make all the difference. Lots more tools. Very practical book.
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on May 20, 2017
I love reading novels and I force myself to read self improvements/ life changing/ inspirational books as well. With most of the book that's exactly what I do, force. Crucial Conversations is a whole different story. I finished this book in 3 evening right before bed. As you read each page every page relates to you. Your past conversation with you colleague, friends, loved ones and even retail store employee comes flashing back to you and plays like kaleidoscope in front of your eyes. You start realizing what you normally get right and what you got wrong. You will find yourself what you have done to make those conversation that went out of hand go smoothly and and you will start formulating how you could have made the smooth conversation go as ground breaking conversation.
I am sure that once you finish reading book you will find your thinking winders winding to turn any crucial conversation into a very successful conversation.
Most recommended book from my side. I am buy other two book Crucial Accountability and Influencer.
P.S. even if you have already read lots of other books on these topics, I am telling just give it a try and you will get it. Know it for yourself.
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on April 22, 2017
It was okay. After working as a counselor for many years I didn't find anything outside the norm of good communication skills
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on February 21, 2017
I really benefited from this book. It was recommended to us by our marriage counselor. However, I use the lessons learned in every single one of my relationships. I, literally, recommend this book to EVERYONE! It is a quick read that will teach you how to concisely express yourself in a non-offensive way. It has helped me to improve many relationships.
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on March 31, 2013
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High


The main premise of this book is that when conversations are most import, we typically perform our worst. Patterson characterizes these situations as those in which opinions vary, stakes are high, emotions run strong, and the outcomes will likely have a significant impact on our life. The tendency may be to either avoid these conversations all together, or when engaged in them, whether premeditatedly or by chance, we may not perform nearly as well as we would like. This is because of a genetic predisposition toward fight or flight, which in situations of stress or conflict, stimulates the production of adrenaline, thereby decreasing the critical reasoning functions of the brain. In order to more effectively deal with situations like these, Patterson lays out several methods for helping to control emotion and adrenaline, and tools for critically evaluating the situation and achieving desired outcomes.


It is no surprise that self-awareness - a concept that is echoed throughout negotiation and mediation strategy - is a central tenant of Patterson's tools for talking. Learn to Look, Patterson's multi-faceted take on self-awareness, plays a role in multiple principles in the book, including: knowing when a crucial conversation is taking place; understanding yourself and the emotional or physical cues that signal you may feel threatened or stressed; and noticing signals from the other party that they do not feel safe.

Another recurring theme in the book is Make It Safe, the idea that productive dialogue is predicated on the free flow of information between parties, which cannot occur if any of the parties feel threatened. The underlying premise is that when people feel safe to have open dialogue without fear of judgment or reproach, conversations become far more productive. This free flow of information contributes to what Patterson terms the Pool of Shared Meaning, which becomes filled with each parties opinions and experiences, which in turn contributes to a more robust, mutually beneficial solution to the issue at hand. Blame, fault, and the idea of "winning" are all part of a zero sum approach to dialogue, and it is only when people feel safe and confident in discussing their true ideas and feelings that dialogue can become integrative.

Among other tools, Patterson provides steps (conveniently packaged in the acronym STATE) to deal with crucial conversations. First, Share your facts. Conversations that are grounded in fact are more persuasive, tend to be less controversial, and provide a foundation for moving into more delicate dialogue. Tell your story. Through honesty, humility, and confidence, you tell the story that needs to be told to get the crucial information across. Ask for others' paths. At this point, we invite the other party to share his/her story in order to better understand his/her point of view. In order to create and maintain safety for both parties, it is important to Talk tentatively; avoiding hyperbole, acknowledging the existence of differing opinions, and generally tempering confidence with humility is the goal of this step. Finally, Encourage testing by honestly inviting and being open to opposing views. This final step results in productive dialogue, as opposed to a lecture or debate.

Patterson presents several useful tools akin to STATE throughout the book that provide a foundation for navigating the myriad crucial conversations encountered in both personal and professional life.


While the techniques in this book are applicable to aspects of mediation, negotiation and cross-cultural communication, there is especial relevance to mediation. In fact, Patterson's tools for successfully dealing with crucial conversations closely mirror the five stages of mediation. According to Friedman and Himmelstein, the five stages of mediation include: 1) Contracting, in which the approach and process is clarified; 2) Defining the Problem; 3) Working Through the Conflict; 4) Developing and Evaluating Options; and 5) Reaching Agreement.

Vis-à-vis Crucial Conversations, Contracting and Defining the Problem are analogous to Patterson's principle, "Start with Heart." During this phase, the problem is both defined through a series of introspective questions aimed at clarifying desired results, as well as the process identified through the beginning stages of the STATE principle, explained above. Working Through Conflict is reflected in Patterson's principles of Look to Learn and Make It Safe, in which mindfulness and self-awareness play an active role in tempering potentially heated conversations, bringing them back to a safe place in order for all parties to contribute their opinions, which in turn leads to a more robust pool of possible solutions. Developing and Evaluating Options is akin to Patterson's Explore Others' Path, during which the other parties are encouraged to explore and share not just their goals, but the purpose behind those goals. In situations where parties are at odds, this step is crucial: moving further up the thought process toward motivations and goals gets away from specific outcomes that may be exclusive of other parties' goals. Finally, Reaching Agreement is analogous to Patterson's Move to Action, during which decisions are finalized as well as expectations agreed upon for how the consensus will be enacted.

Although there are stark similarities between the tools presented in Crucial Conversations and mediation techniques, commonalities are also found in negotiation. In fact, it is Patterson's main contention that crucial conversations are zero-sum, distributive conversations by nature. It is only through conscious effort that they may be turned into integrative dialogue that allows both parties to contribute to the outcome, which has the added benefit of helping preserve the relationship as well.

Additional commonalities are also seen in the idea of mindfulness in cross-cultural communication, as well as self-awareness that increases emotional intelligence. A thorough read of crucial conversations will yield techniques that may be utilized in a number of personal and professional areas.


The methods described herein have incredible utility; these "crucial conversations" occur in all aspects of personal and professional life, and effectively handling and addressing these conversations can yield positive results in all aspects of life. Patterson provides ample real-life examples to illustrate these concepts and takes them out of the abstract. Certainly, it is a lot of information to digest, and putting it into use during circumstances that aren't always foreseen seems even more daunting. But Patterson provides some easy cues for remembering the core principles of the book and suggests that improvement comes incrementally through simple awareness during dialogue.
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on June 29, 2015
This is an abridged version of the book. I originally purchased this so I could participate in a work book club but learned only after receiving it that it wasn't the full volume. Which is fine, really, most of the main points are made. I didn't read the description carefully on this page which is my fault, but this CD works for when you need to drive and get through the book. Google 'crucial conversations notes' and you'll find a helpful PDF on the front page that serves as a good review of the material when you're trying to pair your listening of this CD with a live discussion. The quality of the CD is good, the actress speaking sounds like she has been trained in an HR department for many years on how to talk to angry people about difficult subjects, and there are only four CDs so the book goes by pretty quickly.
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on April 4, 2017
This book has been life-changing. I'm about 80% through it right now and I wish it would never end- just reading it has made me more aware of and mindful of how I approach conversations, and especially difficult or controversial ones. A friend of mine that's a Google employee recommended it to me because he said "everybody I look up to at Google has independently recommended this book" and that was all the recommendation I needed.
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