Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler is the book that covers the curriculum of the Construction Law Class’s third module at BYU Idaho. This paper will summarize the book; then, the author will commit himself to improving his communication skills based on the concepts taught in the book. The following subjects, summarizing the literature of the book, are as listed: the definition of Crucial Conversations, the Pool of Shared Meaning, self-awareness within conversations, awareness of others’ behaviors within unsafe conversations, restoration of safety, a path to the resolution of personal Stories, a method to address Crucial Conversations with others, the conversion of a conversation into action, and the integration of all of the principles in individual's lives. The teaching of this book are very applicable to man’s life because the skills overcome the weakness of humanity. The author of this paper will explain how he will master crucial conversations after summarizing the book.
A Crucial Conversation is the term given by the authors to establish the topic of the book. It is important to gain skill in these conversations because most people lose control of themselves when they come up. Crucial Conversations arise when opinions differ, emotions untemper, and stakes rear. The terminology is this literature is not too unique.
The authors set forth the phrase Pool of Shared Meaning to build understanding. When people associate with each other, people have a shared Pool of Meaning. The depth of it is based on how safe the people feel together. The Pool of Shared Meaning is the combination of people's thoughts and ideas. The reaction of people to unsafe situations are violence or silence. Violence is verbal abuse usually, and silence is a withdrawal of individuals input. Self-awareness, when people contribute to a Pool of Shared Meaning, is important because people’s comfort depends of each individuals’ participation.
People are very habitual, and their relationship to a Pool of Meaning may not be as they intend. Self-awareness can help reduce individuals’ faulty habits. Self-awareness requires a higher level of consciousness as do true conversations. When people converse by habits, they do not truly listen, sympathizing with each other. We must get over automating thoughts and projecting our motives on people. One must be sincere with oneself, evaluating their personal motives. People feel unsafe when an individuals’ habits are automated, and they try to manipulate other people’s behavior. Other tendencies that we should be careful of is personal pride. Do not seek to raise personal intelligence above others by trying to “win” a conversation or seeking revenge. People need to avoid the “Sucker’s Choice”, when people feel that they need to be violent or silent. There is a third option to consider solutions through dialogue. Think of a solution to the situation, which is making you react violently or silently. The way that we handle ourselves is important, and we can use our skills to handle conversations with other people too.
Another rise in an individual’s consciousness is the awareness of others. The book calls to watch the contents and the conditions of the Pool of Shared Meaning and conversations. The content of a conversation is easily understood as the topics and the precepts of the discussion. The condition of a conversation may not be easy to understand without clarification. The condition of a conversation eludes to the feel among the people. The most important part of the condition is the feeling of safety. Be aware of the signs that indicate that the conversation may become crucial. The signs are very subtle, but there is a different demeanor in individuals when the condition of safety has been pushed too much. It may be seen in their tone of voice or behavior.
When people feel unsafe, they usually go in to a violent or silent mode. The most common three ways that silence are expressed are masking, avoiding, and withdrawing. Masking is the behavior of downplaying or hiding parts of individual’s true opinion. Sarcasm is a type of masking. Avoiding the Crucial Conversation is not a physical but a verbal avoidance of the sensitive subjects. Withdrawal is a physical pulling out of a conversation. It may include leaving the room or withdrawing participation in the conversation. There are also three common ways of verbal violence. They include the following types of violence: controlling, labeling, and attacking. Controlling involves pressuring people to think a specific way. Labeling is stereotyping or categorizing in a dismissive attitude. Attacking entails belittling and threatening. We should learn to sight these offenses in people’s conduct before the conversation turns crucial.
When these acts of violence and silence arise between people, it is important to address the problem directly with sincerity. The development of mutual purpose and respect is important to restore safety. Seek unity in the conversation. Apologies can be helpful, and contrasting can make the desires of individuals clear. Form “I don’t” or “I do want” statements to understand each other with contrasting. The authors of the book developed the acronym of CRIB to help people remember a recommended path to mutual purpose. The CRIB acronym symbolizes the following words: Commit to Mutual Purpose, Recognize the Purpose behind the Strategy, Invent a Mutual Purpose, and Brainstorm New Strategies. Strategy is a term of the book’s authors to distinguish the difference between of our desires and the method to achieve our desires. When we discover the purpose behind our strategies we can create a mutual purpose, seeking a method to accomplish it. In order to restore respect, we need to practice forgiveness and repentance.
Stories are a term of the book’s authors to teach us that one can misunderstand facts, getting emotionally driven by their delusion. Stories can result in violence and silence. We would again need to raise self-awareness. If one retraces how they got to their story, re-evaluating their facts, they can de-escalate their emotions and take control of their story. A healthy conversation about a situation especially when it involves other people can solve issues. The authors of Crucial Conversations developed another acronym of STATE to help people de-escalate emotions, opinions, and stakes. The STATE acronym involves the following steps: Sharing your facts, Telling your story, Asking for others’ paths, Talking Tentatively, and Encouraging testing. The first three are self-explanatory; therefore, only the last two steps will be explained. Tentative talk of a story is the recognition that the story is not fact in conversation. Testing stories from facts can bring clarity and a broader understanding of the situation, letting wiser decisions to be made.
Another acronym that the Crucial Conversations’ authors came up with to help us resolve dilemmas with others is AMPP. The acronym AMPP symbolizes the following steps: Ask to get things rolling, Mirror to confirm feelings, Paraphrase to acknowledge the story, and Prime when you are getting nowhere. These steps are skills of listening. It requires sincerity. The people that this method is supposed to be used on are violent and silent, needing safety and trust restored. Ask to get things rolling is an invitation for them to express themselves. If they do, sympathize with them. A sign and skill of listening is paraphrasing the story to get mutual understanding. Priming is a guess at what silent people are thinking to get things started, but this practice should not be the first step. It is after the first three steps fail. After the conversation is started, the ABC acronym is used to solve the problem; standing for Agree, Build, and Compare. Agree is the agreeing on facts; then, build upon to fill in the issues of fact until the parties are united. When disagreement continues, a comparison of paths is important rather than deem them as wrong. The book recommends that you practice the STATE acronym at that point.
As people participate in a Pool of Shared Meaning people feel an ownership in the pool. People need to be careful of making decisions based on the Pool of Meaning if individuals are left out of the decision process. The decision process should be decided upon before the decision is made. The main methods of decision are command, consult, vote, and consensus. Be careful of the feelings of each party member. Voting begets winners and losers.
There are seven principles to the Crucial Conversations book, and its authors found that people that successfully implement the discipline do two at a time until it is habitual. The first level is to apply CRIB or STATE to oneself, and the second level seek safety in their conversations. The author of the paper has personally used AMPP on his social network pages to get feedback. The audience can be silent especially because the page shares an article every two hours. The author as the administrator of the social network guessed at what the audience was thinking, asking for feedback. A sister gave good feedback, saying that the content was hard to keep up with for the audience. The administrator found another way to share all the content effectively in one post. The administrator has always wanted to expand the page’s influence to other popular social networks, and the simplification found from the feedback enables all the desired social network pages to be active.
The author of the paper’s plan is to apply two of the seven principles as the authors of the book recommend for success. The author plans to not fall into the “Sucker’s Choice” of silence or violence, but I will find the third option. Secondly, the author would like to master CRIB to have more productive relationships with other people. He is grateful for the self-awareness that the book has raised in his life, planning to refer to and study the book as a Crucial Conversations reference manual.