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I just finished a book on communication called "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking with Stakes are High."  The organization also has a website.

My wife has been encouraging me to read this book (which her mother recommended to her).  To be honest, the title didn’t excite me.  I expected a snoozer.  I was SO wrong.

The book challenged me by capturing and expanding, in a systematic way, some of the communications philosophies & skills that I have stumbled over, studied out, experimented with, & refined over the years on-the-job.  And whether the authors realize it or not, they are putting together Biblical principles in a format people can easily apply.

Here are a few excerpts:

  • "One study of 500 stunningly productive organizations revealed that peak performance had absolutely nothing to do with [systems].  In fact, half of the highflyers had almost no formal performance management process.  It all comes down to how people handle crucial conversations." (pp.10-11)
  • "When someone violates a procedure or otherwise acts in an unsafe way, the first person to see a problem, regardless of his or her position, steps up & holds a crucial conversation." (p.11)
  • "When it comes to risky, controversial, & emotional conversations, skilled people find a way to get all relevant information (from themselves & others) out in the open…into the Pool of Shared Meaning." (p.20)
  • "As people begin to feel unsafe, they start down 1 of 2 unhealthy paths.  They move either to silence (withholding meaning from the pool) or to violence (trying to force meaning in the pool)." (p.51-52)
  • "Building more safety is to understand which of the 2 conditions of safety is at risk.  Each requires a different solution.  (1) Mutual purpose.  (2) Mutual respect." (p.68)
  • "Don’t allow people to think that dialogue is decision making…To avoid violated expectations…separate dialogue from decision making.  Make it clear how decisions will be made." (p.163)
  • "Most people make progress…by applying 2 of the main principles in this book:  (1) Learn to look.  (2) Make it safe." (pp.180-181)

How strongly am I recommending this book?

  • I immediately put it on my "Recommended Reading" list
  • I started using the lingo today
  • I taught a mini-version in our staff meeting yesterday
  • I’m buying it for our pastors & staff
  • I’m taking our staff through it together as a team

If you wants to grow in the area of communication from the workplace to the home front…from the conference room to the bedroom…then buy this book!