Monday, June 17, 2013

Crucial Conversations

By Virgil Carter

How are you at crucial conversations?  Crucial conversations are those situations in which you are involved with others, in which the outcomes and the relationships are at stake.
Just about every non-profit CEO has been in crucial conversations.  I remember one where 16 volunteer and staff leaders came from various parts of the U.S. in an attempt to settle and dispose of disputes between the parent organization and two of the subsidiary component organizations.  You know the situation—it’s common in national and global associations.  The meeting was important.  The situation needed resolution, and all affected parts of the organization needed to move on to other, positive activities. 

Fortunately, and due entirely to the positive and constructive leadership of all 16 participants, we succeeded.  It wasn’t easy, but it was important and we reached unanimous agreement on all major points.  That evening we had a “victory reception and dinner”, complete with a signing of a Proclamation of Achievement and Appreciation by all participants.  They say all’s well that ends well, and we made sure we ended very well, indeed.

There’s a great book that helps address crucial conversations.  Coincidentally, it’s titled Crucial Conversations:  Tools for Talking when Stakes are High.  Authors are Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler, published in 2002 by McGraw Hill, and subsequently a New York Times bestseller. 

Building from their research on the subject, the authors define these crucial conversations as those that “occur when there is a lot at stake, when emotions are strong, and when opinions differ”.  The authors suggest the importance in such situations of having a clear sense of desired results (outcomes) as well as a clear sense of the desired relationships when the crucial conversations are concluded.  This is not a situation in which one may want to do ones thinking out loud!

You can Goggle the book notes or buy the book (or both).  You may be better prepared for your next crucial conversation.  Good luck!

No comments: