You don’t need to know much about Crucial Conversations for the skills to make a difference. For many people, just one skill, phrase, or reminder has transformed the way they handle high-stakes conversations.
I’m always surprised at the number of individuals who suggest that Crucial Conversations has helped them immensely. Yet, when I ask them what specific part has been of most assistance, they hesitantly explain they haven’t exactly read the entire book. Pressed further, many indicate that they haven’t read much of the book at all. Okay, they’ve only scanned the book.
But somehow the title, cover, headers, and first few pages have served them well. And they aren’t kidding! A quick glance has helped them enormously. How can this be?
You Already Have Communication Skills
Well, it’s not as if our typical readers are bereft of communication skills. They weren’t raised by wolves. These are intelligent, functional, contributing members of society. So, as they read Crucial Conversations, they’re able to use some key ideas to make the most of the skills they already have.
For some, the simple idea that particular conversations are so important that they deserve a special title reminds them to be careful as they step up to “high-stakes conversations.” Then, instead of becoming frightened or upset, they bring their best conversation skills into play.
As a discussion digresses, they can listen better. They can be thoughtful and pleasant. They can avoid harsh language and terse accusations.
All of this, of course, is within their current skill set. This means the readers don’t have to study every concept and skill contained in this book before they risk speaking their mind. They come armed with communication skills. And now, after a brief exposure to the book, they’ll be even better prepared.
More specifically, if they simply note when they’re entering a crucial conversation and then do their best to avoid transmuting into their worst selves, their conversation will be that much more likely to succeed.
One New Idea Makes A Difference
I find this so refreshing because it offers so much hope. You don’t have read every syllable in Crucial Conversations and go through months of intense training only to emerge with the minimum skill set needed to survive a crucial conversation.
Not to say that training and in-depth study doesn’t have its place. When it comes to transforming an organisation, changing an atmosphere of failed communication, and developing into a high-performing work culture, there’s no substitute for Crucial Conversations® training. But, for a single individual wanting to improve their daily interactions, it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.
For some readers, a simple reminder that they have moved from a casual discussion to a crucial conversation helps them be on their best behaviour. For others, the idea that they can catch themselves going to silence or violence, apologise, and start over helps them get back on track — even after starting on the wrong foot.
Some have found that restoring safety now permeates their every interaction. Still, others find value in not telling ugly stories.
Of course, learning and applying more communication skills better prepares one for a variety of situations. However, if you want to start developing your Crucial Conversation skills, grab one idea from this book and bring it into your next high-stakes interaction. It may be just what you need to find a way idea to speak your mind and make it safe for others to do the same.