We have conversations daily. How we interact with others determines how our ideas and views are perceived. Crucial conversations are more than a daily conversation. They happen when opinions vary, stakes are high, and emotions run strong. These conversations matter most.
After reading Crucial Conversations, I have reflected on my communication skills. I believe that I need work on all levels of communication in order to improve my relationships and health. This task could be overwhelming, but the authors of Crucial Conversations suggest taking baby steps. Focus on one skill at a time or look at principles instead of skills. The first two skills I plan to focus on are learn to look and make it safe.
The first, I need to learn to look. Learn to look means to pay attention and identify crucial conversations. Routine conversations can turn into a crucial conversation causing behavioral and emotional reactions. Reactions vary from masking, avoiding and withdrawing to controlling, labeling, and attacking. Noticing these reactions can help you de-escalate the behaviors and emotions creating a safe environment
Relationships with my colleagues, family and friends will improve as I implement the skill of learn to look. Identifying when someone is angry and defensive or silent and withdrawn from conversations can help me create a safe environment where ideas and discussion flow freely. My challenge is to keep my focus on the goal of the conversation and not entangled in a heated or stressful situation.
After I spot escalation in a conversation, I can put into effect the technique of make it safe. “Dialogue calls for the free flow of meaning--period. And nothing kills the flow of meaning like fear” (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzer, 2012, p. 55). Productive leaders not only see a crucial conversation, but also know how to turn those conversations around. The first step in creating a safe conversation is to apologize if it is warranted. Then, repair the misunderstanding by mentally stepping away from an intense conversation, make it safe, and then return. Finally, seek a mutual purpose with the people involved in the conversation. All crucial conversations need a mutual purpose to be productive.
I cannot build change alone. In order for my innovation plan to be a complete success, I must enlist my colleagues. The first question they will ask is, “Why?” Humans have been asking that question since they were two years old. Any toddler will continue to question until they receive a comprehendible answer. I owe it to my colleagues to give them a clear-cut answer. I will help them envision my plan with my why statement.
As I work with my co-workers, I will use the skills that I have acquired to positively influence change. Using The 4 Disciplines of Execution, we will develop a 4DX goal and devise a plan to reach that goal. We need to keep in mind that we are building the future and our students need significant learning environments to be ready.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change: 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education
McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. Columbus, OH: McGraw Hill.