EDLD 5304 - Having a Crucial Conversation


Wow, little did I realize how guilty I was of having silent or violent reactions during a crucial conversation. I have often been aware that I allowed my emotions to have the better part of me when having discussion, which I did not achieve my goal I admit; however, now I realize why. Having a crucial conversation required constant monitoring of your words, your inflection and of your body language. We must also be aware of the same in others to detect the point where the conversation becomes defensive and thus closes itself to anything productive. We must become a self-differentiated leader.


When we are passionate about something, we often can become overbearing. Grenny, McMillan, Petterson, & Switzer state, "skilled people start with heart" (2012). Which means that we have sincere motives in the conversation, not simply something that will be only to our advantage. We can only control ourselves, "work on me first, us second" (Grenny et al, 2012, pg 48).


The conversation will then reach the moment of truth in which the conversation will flourish or go sour. This is where our words say one thing but our body language can say the opposite. We can help prevent that by including three steps, "First, clarify what you really want...Second clarify what you really don't want...Third, present your brain with a more complex problem" (Genny et al, 2012, pg 46). The first and second must be an "and" which directs you to develop the third in order to determine eh best way to approach both objectives into a safe condition.


The place where I have failed the most is in creative a safe environments of the discussion. When people feel attacked, belittled or feel disregarded, they will no longer contribute to the crucial conversation. Often failed to see the conditions in when they withdrew and became silent or violent. Now violent does not mean physical, it is a verbal response to feeling attacked. Name calling, labeling, questioning why they are even in the conversation, feeling humiliated. The silent ones just stop saying anything, even start thinking of other things instead of remaining focused. The conversation is no longer safe for them. The discussion becomes one of who will win, not obtaining the best outcome. This is the area that I need to focus on. Not only of my actions, but of being observant enough to detect when people no longer feel that the conversation is safe for them. I took the stress test online and realized that most of my scores were 1's and 0's, I had only one 2 score. I really need to work on myself a lot.


So I see that the conversation went south, how do I recover? "Step out. Male it safe. Then step back in" (Grenny et al, 2012, pg 74). The key here is realizing it has happened. So we step out and use one of three skills to bring the conversation back into a safe environment. Option one is to apologize. If the issue is they are hurt by what you said or did, this is one technique that can bring back into the safe zone. It needs to be sincere, not just saying it to say it. If you didn't do or say anything that might be disrespectful or unintended disrespect, do not apologize as it will not be real. Instead, contrast in a don't/do statement. What you don't intend, disrespect, criticism, etc. and what you really intended by the conversation. Clarify the misunderstanding and mutual respect aspect. Contrasting is not an apology so it should not be phrased like one. The third option is to create a mutual skill. this is where the discuss leads to both parties agreeing to agree. Know the purpose of the conversation and find the mutual understanding that you can both come to. the mutual purppose has four parts, commit to the mutual purpose, recognize the purpose of it, invent the mutual purpose and brainstorm new strategies to achieve the mutual purpose.


This is abut a brief overview of having a crucial conversation. My greatest lesson from it is realizing that I had often created an unsafe environment in my conversations and allowed my emotions to control my direction of focus. I realize that having crucial conversation is essential to success and that it in fact, necessary to becoming a self-differentiated leader. It needs to be practiced and I have a lot of work cut out for me.


Grenny, J., McMillan, R., Patterson, K., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high. New York: Mcgraw-Hill



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