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Crucial conversations – how to have them

Crucial conversations are make or break moments for any relationship or organization. Here’s how to start a crucial conversation.

I had the wonderful opportunity last week to attend a local simulcast of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit which featured an amazing line up of speakers including host Bill Hybels, Carly Fiorina, Jeffrey Immelt, Patrick Lencioni, and many others. It’s beamed all over the world and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Joseph Grenny - author Crucial Conversations
Joseph Grenny

Joseph Grenny was a featured presenter this week and is a four-time New York Times bestselling author and leading social scientist for business performance. One of his most popular books is “Crucial Conversations:  Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” and in it he lays out a framework for successfully dealing with those “moments of disproportionate influence when how someone behaves has an enormous effect on every outcome you care about.”

So what is a crucial conversation? Grenny defines it as a moment when opinions differ, the stakes are high, and emotions are strong. In his 25 years of studying organizations and their dynamics, Grenny has found that when organizations are stuck or frustrated it can often be traced to “crucial conversations that they are not holding, or not holding well.”

How do you start crucial conversations? How do you overcome an impasse like this in a healthy way?

In his presentation, Grenny focused on how best to start these conversations. Candor needs to be cultivated. Candor provides a solid foundation of safety. He recommends setting the stage for candor – and safety – like this:

  1. Establish Mutual Purpose. Grenny calls this the Entrance Condition:  “You know that I care about your goals.”
  2. Emphasize Mutual Respect. This is the Continuance Condition:  “You know that I care about you.”

There’s much more to Grenny’s book and findings, but starting with candor and safety goes a long way in achieving more successful and productive conversations at home, in the office, and any place else you may encounter them.

Click here to download Grenny’s presentation on the art and science of having crucial conversations.

Have a great week.

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