Book Cover

We worked on getting ready to talk, now it is time to get into the meat of a dialogue. Chapter 7 of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler, is where the rubber hits the road. In many circumstances, this is actually where the wheels actually come off!  The authors present five skills for talking when what you have to say could make others feel defensive.

The goal of dialogue in a crucial conversation is the ability to state your mind completely while respecting others and making it safe for them to hear and respond. The authors start the chapter by asking the questions, “How can you speak the unspeakable and still maintain respect?” This capability requires confidence, humility, and skill. 

The Authors use the acronym, STATE, to guide readers through the five skills needed to speak persuasively and not abrasively.  

  1. Share your facts. Start with facts because they tend to be less controversial, more persuasive and are the least potentially insulting. By starting with facts you establish a foundation for the narrative that you develop after laying out facts.  
  2. Tell your story.  Your story, your narrative that you build, includes the conclusions and judgments from the facts. Telling the story allows you to point out the implications of the facts (based on System 1 and 2 Thinking).  Without a narrative, the listener might not see the implication or can assume a different implication than you do. As you tell your story, look for safety problems. If they exist, a technique for rebuilding safety is contrasting. Contrasting states both sides of the argument as a means to attain a shared goal which helps the listener not to read more into what is being said.
  3. Ask for other people‘s paths. Once you’ve shared your views ask others to share their views. Asking and really listening demonstrates humility.
  4. Talk tentatively. Use tentative or non-dogmatic wording (for example, I was wondering why…).  This allows the speaker to add information to the pool without down people’s throats. If you fake using tentative wording most people will feel that you are attempting to be manipulative rather than trying to keep the dialogue from escalating into something that is not useful.
  5. Encourage testing. Testing your hypothesis builds strength if it can not be disproved. If you are involved in a crucial conversation, invite opposing views or play devil’s advocate. The BUT that goes with encouraging testing is that you really have to mean it; you need to want people to challenge your opinions or your conclusions.

In order to avoid problems, the authors suggest that 

  1. Look for a signal that people are beginning to resist.
  2. Tone down your approach.
  3. Stop yourself before you launch into a monologue.

When we open our mouths it is easy for all planning to go out the window. As with the previous chapters, practice is a necessity if you are going to actually become proficient at speaking persuasively without being abrasive.

Previous Entries:

Week 1 – Logistics, Forewards, and Prefacehttp://bit.ly/2wls1Mq 

Week 2 – Chapter 1: What’s a crucial conversation? And who cares?http://bit.ly/3a7Kivp 

Week 3 – Chapter 2: The Power of Dialoguehttp://bit.ly/3aO4cMa  

Week 4 – Chapter 3: Start With Hearthttp://bit.ly/2UbJizK 

Week 5 – Learn To Lookhttps://bit.ly/3djnnPX

Week 6 – Make It Safehttps://bit.ly/39p4Xu4 

Week 7 – Master my Storieshttps://bit.ly/2V1DJUZ 

If you do not have a copy or have tossed it at someone during a crucial conversation, it is time to buy a copy. Please use the link https://amzn.to/34RuZ6V (using the link helps support the blog and podcast).