Crucial Conversations Summary

The Grand Argument:
Your success depends on your skillful handling of crucial conversations.

The point of the book Crucial Conversations is that our success is dependent on our ability to collaborate with others.

None of us can succeed alone, whether it is in relationships, at work, in business, or even when it comes to our own health.

And the biggest threat to our success when interacting, dealing, or collaborating with other people is the differences in opinions that will inevitably arise.

No two people agree all the time or in every situation.

The more people we add to the mix, the more likely the varying opinions will clash.

This in itself isn’t a problem; but when differences in opinion occur around things that matter to the success of the endeavor (high stakes), and matter personally to us and the people who are involved (strong emotions), communication moves from being typical to being “crucial.”

Thus, the three components of a crucial conversation are:

  1. High stakes.
  2. Varying opinions.
  3. Strong emotions.

The outcome of a crucial conversation often determines whether or not the overall collaboration, and even the individuals involved, are successful. 

With such high risk, it seems the nature of crucial conversations calls for careful deliberation and an abundance of caution by the participants.

But it is more common that the shift from typical conversation to crucial conversation happens without notice, preventing deliberation and caution. After all, you don’t typically realize your opinions differ from others’ until you’re in the middle of discussing them. 

This is why we’re often surprised to find ourselves facing, or even in the thick of crucial conversations.

And with such high stakes and no notice, when we are involved in crucial conversations we often lose our sense of safety. This causes them to experience a flood of stress hormones and emotions that make it difficult to navigate the conversation to a positive outcome.

As a result, we usually respond to crucial conversations with silence (avoidance/flight), or violence (confrontation/fight). 

While typical, both of these responses tend to perpetuate and/or exacerbate the issues of varying opinions rather than lead to agreement, which is ineffective and leads to failure.

Therefore, the authors claim that the success of any collaboration/relationship (including whole organizations) depends on the participants’ ability to navigate high stakes, emotional conversations around differing opinions toward agreement, which promotes better outcomes for all involved.

And the rest of the book instructs you on how to do just that.

Chapter 1: This book applies to your life in four ways.

It’s in the first chapter the authors lay out most of the grand argument.

In addition to using stories, examples, and case studies as evidence for their general claim, they are also busy persuading you that learning how to handle crucial conversations will apply to your life in four specific ways:

  1. To kick-start your career.
  2. To solve and prevent problems in your organization.
  3. To solve and prevent problems in your relationships.
  4. To improve your health.

Your Career

Argument for learning to handle crucial conversations:

Your professional climb is based on two factors; your accomplishments, and your relationships.

Your accomplishments are about what you get credit for having done. And you don’t get credit in isolation, which is why relationships play a key role.

Most important is how you navigate interpersonal and organizational relationships without undermining them, even when facing differences of opinion.

This is what makes you influential in driving decisions, or better yet, earns you credit for being influential in driving decisions.

Your ability to hear and make yourself heard by other people during crucial conversations will give your career a boost.

Your Organization

Argument for learning to handle crucial conversations:

A lack of open communication perpetuates poor decision making on the part of leadership, and has a trickle down effect.

Therefore, the ability of those within an organization to break their silence (avoidance) and gracefully navigate charged issues (handle crucial conversations) is paramount to preventing and overcoming devastating organizational mistakes.

And again, when you do this, you get credit for being effective and influential.

Your Relationships

Argument for learning to handle crucial conversations:

Arriving at an impasse on an important issue within a relationship, either because you and the other party avoid or behave badly around it, will eventually destroy the trust and erode the connection between you.

Therefore, learning to resolve and manage differing preferences and opinions by handling crucial conversations is paramount to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Your Health

The argument for learning to handle crucial conversations to maintain/improve health, or to prevent bad health was a bit more of a stretch from the main thesis.

It goes like this:

Truly resolved/managed differences in opinions around crucial conversations results in less physical/physiological stress (stress hormones), which in turn results in healthier/stronger immune systems.

Stronger immune systems result in less disease and physical distress.

Therefore, learning how to handle crucial conversations to resolve/manage differences in opinion leads to better health outcomes.

Now we know why the authors believe you should read Crucial Conversations. Let’s find out what they say makes someone highly effective and influential.

Chapter 2: Becoming highly effective and influential.

The question is what makes highly effective/influential people highly effective and influential?

And the answer is that, instead of going silent or going on the attack during crucial conversations (violent), highly effective and influential people create open dialogue where the exchange of relevant information, including personal meaning, takes place freely.

The arguments go like this:

The best decisions are made (either by one person or by committee) when the most and most relevant information is known by all parties (shared pool of meaning).

As we know, crucial conversations arise when opinions differ around important and emotional topics, such as decisions to be made.

Typical responses to crucial conversations are either to shut down and keep quiet (don’t make any enemies), or to try and force an opinion on others (risk making enemies). The first we’ll call “silence” going forward; the second we’ll call “violence.”

The authors claim that these choices are typical because most people see them as the only options available. 

Neither option produces the result of conversation participants knowing the most and most relevant information (shared pool of meaning). Going silent means withholding new information from other participants, while forcing an opinion, or violence, prevents other participants from accepting new information.

Therefore, both responses are ineffective and fail to influence others at the critical juncture that is a crucial conversation.

Part of the problem is that the information either being withheld from or forced on the participants is packaged in personal meaning. This increases the stakes and emotions involved in sharing the information.

Still, the authors hold that the most and most relevant information that is shared, the better the decision making.

Highly effective and influential people do not believe their choice is between silence or violence when they face a crucial conversation. (The authors have labeled the choice between silence or violence “the fool’s choice.”)

Instead, they approach crucial conversations with two policies; total honesty and deep respect.

Honesty is important because it is the foundation of sharing the most and most relevant information – even if it includes controversial and unpopular information/opinions. It is offered in the spirit of broadening the knowledge and understanding of everyone involved.

Respect is important because it is the foundation of creating safety within the crucial conversation. This encourages participants to speak up and contribute information, while also promoting participants to be receptive to new information being offered.

When honesty and respect create open and free-flowing dialogue, or the contribution of the most and most relevant information to the shared pool of meaning, the decisions that are made are better and lead to better outcomes for two reasons:

  1. When the most and most relevant information is used to make a decision, the quality of the decision improves independent of any other factors.
  2. When people are able to effectively contribute to the information used to make a decision (personal meaning), they are typically more committed to the decision and provide better follow through – even if the decision isn’t the one they would have made themselves.

It is quite obvious when a person responds to a crucial conversation by creating the conditions for open dialogue because it is so rare that people do so. Therefore, when it happens, the person who effectively handles the crucial conversation is labeled as highly effective and influential. 

They get the credit, which bolsters their career. 

Fortunately, even though most people are at a loss as to how to conduct crucial conversations successfully, you can learn the skill of creating open dialogue. And fairly quickly at that.

Now we know why and how creating open dialogue works to handle crucial conversations, and the person who handles them well is highly effective and influential. Now let’s focus on how you can do it.

Chapter 3: Overcome the fool’s choice for yourself first.

The question is how can you encourage open dialogue during crucial conversations?

The first answer is to practice overcoming the fool’s choice (between silence and violence) for yourself before helping others to do the same.

The arguments go like this:

You can’t control anyone else. Period.

The only person you have any hope of controlling is yourself, and that can be really hard to do when adrenaline is a factor, such as when a crucial conversation arises.

But it can be done, and it is your only hope.

It starts with your motives.

When you are facing a crucial conversation, and you are tempted to make a fool’s choice between silence or violence, recognizing that your motives are not served by either is the quickest way to pursue a third option – open dialogue.

We’ll work on recognizing a crucial conversation when you see one in the next chapter.

For now, we’ll focus on preserving your motives for yourself, the other person/people involved, and the relationship(s) between/among you and them.

How can you contribute to the shared pool of meaning (to offer the most and most relevant information) AND make it safe for others to do the same AND build on the relationship AND make a good decision AND get the ultimate results everyone wants from this crucial conversation. It’s all about the “and.”

What do you really want?

Beware if your answer is to make like Frozen and just “let it go.” That is related to the fool’s choice of silence, or allowing a poor decision to be made to avoid an uncomfortable conversation.

Also beware if the answer is to win the argument, or correct another participant’s mistakes. Those are related to the fool’s choice of violence, or forcing your opinion on others.

The right answer that will open dialogue is that you want to contribute to the shared pool of meaning, and encourage others to do the same, creating the conditions for the best decision to be made – for everyone involved.

By clarifying your motive, and remaining focused on it no matter what, thereby refusing the fool’s choice, you are creating a foundation for open dialogue within a crucial conversation.

The authors mention they encounter objections as to how realistic it is to remain unmoved in motive and to refrain from the fool’s choice. After all, the fool’s choice is predicated on the notion that silence and violence are the only options available.

They overcome the objections in two ways:

  1. Their research proves otherwise. They can provide example upon example of people who are able to make a third choice and open dialogue within crucial conversations.
  2. When asked, the person objecting can typically point to a person they know who is able to navigate crucial conversations by opening dialogue, rather than resorting to the fool’s choice. In essence, they prove to themselves that there is a third option available.

Now we know the first step of skillfully handling crucial conversations; overcome the fool’s choice for yourself first. Let’s explore how to identify when you need to go into crucial conversation mode in the first place.

Chapter 4: Conditions vs. content, and recognizing crucial conversations.

The question is how do you recognize when a conversation has become crucial?

The answer is to pay attention to the conditions of conversation (or how people are responding, not just what they’re saying); specifically watch for signs that conversation participants (including you) are moving toward silence or violence, indicating that safety has been compromised.

The arguments go like this:

In normal conversation, we focus on the exchange of content and everything is copacetic.

In crucial conversations, because of high stakes and strong emotions over differing opinions, the exchange of content (meaning) is compromised by participants who feel unsafe or at risk, and in response gravitate toward silence or violence.

The farther participants move toward silence or violence, the harder it is to course correct the crucial conversation, and the higher the costs associated with its derailment.

A move toward silence includes any behavior that prevents a person from contributing to the shared pool of meaning, such as avoidance, joking around, or mitigating their response (mincing words).

A move toward violence includes any behavior that attempts to force a participant’s opinion on others, such as shouting, making things personal, or other manipulative tactics, thus violating the shared pool of meaning.

Both types of behavior indicate that the safety of the conversation is compromised. 

Therefore, by recognizing the signs of participants moving to silence or violence, you can become aware when a conversation has moved from normal to crucial, and take steps to restore the participants’ sense of safety and the free flow of meaning (open dialogue).

In addition to monitoring others for movement toward silence or violence, it is imperative that you become aware of your own reactions to stressful conversations.

Careful self-monitoring can ensure if you do begin to move into silence or violence, you’re able to stop the physical and physiological reactions, and maintain your focus on your motives for yourself, the other participants, and the relationship(s) at hand (as discussed in the third chapter).

The authors provide a tool within the fourth chapter of the book to assess your own “Style Under Stress.”

Now we know how to recognize a crucial conversation, so we can respond quickly to restore safety. Let’s find out how to make it safe to say anything.

Chapter 5: Make it safe to say anything.

The question is how can you make it safe for all participants in a crucial conversation to say anything, or contribute their personal meaning to the shared pool of meaning?

The answer is to spot safety risks, step out of the content of the conversation, establish the conditions of safety, and then return to the content when everyone is able to contribute meaning freely.

The arguments go like this:

Free and open dialogue is the only way to progress in all relationships.

When dialogue is free and open, the participants can say anything to contribute to the pool of shared meaning.

People ditch dialogue for silence and violence when they feel unsafe.

The only way to develop and maintain dialogue, and to return to dialogue when someone feels unsafe, is to create and maintain the condition of safety before exchanging content and meaning.

In the last chapter we learned how to recognize safety was at risk.

In this chapter we learn how to return to safety when it has been compromised.

So when the signs of compromised safety appear, either silence or violence from any of the participants in a crucial conversation, the steps are simple:

  1. Step out of the content (exchange of meaning) of the conversation.
  2. Establish/restore the conditions of safety.
  3. Return to the content when all participants feel safe to continue in dialogue.

Stepping out of the content of the conversation means to refrain from engaging in a discussion around content when any given participant has resorted to silence or violence.

Establishing/restoring safety means creating two conditions.

  1. Establishing mutual respect.
  2. Establishing mutual purpose.

Mutual respect is the condition that makes it possible to continue in a crucial conversation. Without it, there is no safety, and no chance at free and open dialogue – both of which preclude progress, defeating any purpose of the conversation.

Once mutual respect is established, mutual purpose is the foundation on which the conversation is predicated. If the parties can’t agree on the purpose of the conversation, it is pointless to continue as any exchange without agreement on purpose is tantamount to violence – or the forcing of meaning into the shared pool of meaning.

When safety has been compromised in a crucial conversation, establish mutual respect first by:

  1. Apologizing if appropriate (only if you can do so sincerely).
  2. Contrasting what you don’t want and what you do want for the other participants.

Clear up any misunderstandings others might have about your respect for them.

Once you can answer yes to the question, “Do the other participants believe that I respect them,” then move into establishing mutual purpose.

To establish mutual purpose, start by clarifying collective motives for all of the participants and the relationship/endeavor in total.

If mutual purpose is not evident from this exercise, then you’ll have to resolve differences to create a mutual purpose.

A key to doing this is to recognize that most differences people experience at this stage are differences of strategy, not of purpose. In other words, they’re focusing on how to do something, not why they are doing it in the first place.

By asking questions about what each person is trying to achieve (their why not their how), you can identify or create a common purpose, and agree to brainstorm different strategies to achieve it.

Now we know how to make it safe to talk about/say anything in a crucial conversation. Let’s move onto how to say anything without risking safety again. It starts with mastering your stories and staying emotionally competent.

Chapter 6: Master your stories.

The question is how can we remain emotionally competent during crucial conversations.

The answer starts with understanding that our emotions come from the stories we tell ourselves about our observations, and ends with changing our stories to maintain control over our emotions.

The arguments go like this:

Contrary to popular belief, our emotions don’t just happen as automatic responses to the events that take place in our lives.

Instead, our emotions come about like this:

  1. We observe something.
  2. We tell ourselves a story to explain what we’ve observed.
  3. We then feel emotions around the story we’ve told ourselves.

There are three associated problems with this process:

  1. Our observations are necessarily factually incomplete.
  2. Which makes the stories we tell ourselves, and our resulting emotions, fallible.
  3. This happens so fast, we don’t even realize it – so we act as if our stories and emotions are justified, and are hard-pressed to slow down and take stock of the truth.

The good thing is we can examine our stories to see where they are weak, and replace them with better/more factual stories, in order to regain our emotional competence.

The authors advise to retrace your path to action, which starts by noticing when you’re moving to silence or violence.

When you notice you’re moving into silence or violence, examine your emotions. 

The authors acknowledge this might be difficult in the moment, and also that many of us suffer from an insufficient emotional vocabulary with which to describe our emotions, even to ourselves. They fail to recommend a solution for this. However, Googling “emotional vocabulary” is a good start.

After examining your emotions, move onto examining the story you’re telling yourself that explains your emotion(s). What are you telling yourself about the how, what, and why behind the actions/behaviors you’ve observed?

Finally, go back to the facts. What evidence do you actually have at hand to know the how, what, and why behind the observations you’ve made? 

Don’t jump to conclusions by filling in the blanks with fiction – that’s the job of your story, not your facts.

Now compare your story with your facts, and re-work your story only so far as your facts allow.

As you’re re-working your stories, don’t fall in the trap of writing what the authors call clever stories, where there are victims, villains, and helpless actors.

The use of a victim, villain, or helpless actor in your storytelling points to incorporating judgements/interpretations when working on your stories rather than relying solely on the observable facts.

It might be helpful to tell your story with the presupposition that all actors in the story are capable, reasonable, and well-meaning. This also helps you maintain outward demonstrations of respect for other conversation participants.

When you tell a story based on facts, presupposing the good nature and good will of the other person, you’ll find demonstrating deep respect for others easier, and that your emotions remain in check – you’ve become emotionally competent to continue in the conversation.

Again, the authors acquiesce this is difficult to do if you’re already feeling unsafe. But persist, because it’s the only way to return to healthy dialogue and navigate the crucial conversation to a positive outcome.

Now we know the basics of mastering our stories for ourselves, which is the foundation for saying anything in a crucial conversation. Let’s move onto how to tell your stories while maintaining safety.

Chapter 7: STATE your path.

The question is how to share your personal meaning with other people in a way that is least likely to risk safety in a crucial conversation, even if what you have to say is controversial or unpopular.

The answer is to STATE your path, by Starting with facts, Telling your story, Asking for the other person’s path – all while talking Tentatively and Encouraging testing.

The arguments go like:

Remember from previous chapters we know that the best policies for conducting crucial conversations are total honesty and deep respect.

And the reason for this is to create and maintain safety within the conversation.

With that in mind, once you’ve mastered your story by examining your path – the facts, the stories you’re telling yourself, and establishing emotional competence…

It’s time to contribute your total honesty (meaning) to the shared pool of meaning.

In order to maintain safety, you start by stating your facts (observations without judgement). This is because facts are the least controversial and insulting of the things you say – which also makes them the most persuasive.

Once you’ve established the facts, then you tell your story – which, now that the other person knows the factual basis for what you have to say, they’re better prepared to understand how you arrived at your conclusions. 

Telling your story is the trickiest part, because it’s where safety is most at risk. Watch for signs of the other person moving into silence or violence, and be prepared to apologize (only if you have something for which to apologize), or to contrast (to establish their belief that you respect them), so they can move back into safety.

Even though it’s tricky, sharing your story is important. A set of facts can lead to a ton of wildly different conclusions; and most of the time, the other person is aware of the facts and the point of the crucial conversation is to clear up the meaning – which includes your conclusions.

Also, sharing facts without conclusions (story) doesn’t shed light on the severity or critical impact of what’s going on; it’s incomplete information. And the best decisions are made with the most complete information.

After you’ve shared your facts and story, ask the other person for their path (facts and story – also known as their contribution to the shared pool of meaning). Again, because the best decisions are made from complete information, which includes their meaning.

Continue to watch for them to have moved into silence or violence (mitigation, or forcing their opinion into the pool of meaning), but perhaps more important, watch out for your own silence/violence reactions. If your feelings of safety are compromised, take a beat and re-establish emotional competence as often as needed.

Remember to do all of this while talking tentatively. The distinction between mitigation (or weak communication that falls into the category of silence), and tentative talking is that mitigating talk is designed to avoid the conversation while tentative talk is committing to the conversation with humility. 

The humility is both pragmatic AND honest.

It’s pragmatic because without it, stating your path – even a reasonable path – becomes violent by using language that attempts to force your meaning into the shared pool. Therefore, by talking tentatively, you are persuading the other person(s) to accept your meaning into the shared pool.

It’s honest because any set of facts can lead to any number of conclusions, so you actually don’t know if the story you’re telling yourself is true. Therefore, talking tentatively is acknowledging the potential fallibility of your own story, while also eliciting corrections along the way.

Lastly, it’s important to encourage testing, or advocate for all the meaning to be shared. Even if you ask for their paths, other people might not feel safe enough to share until you demonstrate a genuine desire for their meaning to be added to the shared pool.

Therefore, it might be prudent to suggest opposing views/interpretations to your own meaning, or to employ any other number of tactics to demonstrate that it is both safe and desirable for others to contribute.

Now we know how to share our meaning/say anything while maintaining safety in the conversation. Let’s move onto handling others’ responses of silence or violence along the way.

Chapter 8: When others blow up or clam up…

The question is how do you elicit others’ paths if they clam up or blow up when you ask/encourage?

The answer is to help them trace their own paths, focusing first on agreement, and then comparing disagreements.

The arguments go like this:

It’s difficult to maintain emotional competence during crucial conversations even when you know what’s happening and how to handle it. It’s practically impossible if you don’t.

Because of this, once you’ve established emotional competence for yourself, it’s important to help others do the same.

We’ve already discussed how to establish safety – mutual respect and purpose – and mentioned that it is prudent to encourage testing (eliciting their contributions to the shared pool of meaning) when others aren’t engaging in open dialogue…

But here are some steps to help coach other people through retracing their paths and contributing to the pool of meaning:

AMPP

Ask

The easiest way to elicit information is to ask for it. This requires sincerity and humility on your part, but it’s the first step toward inviting the other person’s contribution.

Mirror

If the other party refuses to join the conversation when you ask, but what they’re saying doesn’t match how they say it/body language, respond by tentatively talking about your observation that what they’re saying isn’t matching how they’re saying it or what they’re doing.

By addressing the discrepancy with you, they take a first step in joining the conversation.

Paraphrase

When they speak, it’s important they know you’re listening. You establish this trust by demonstrating you heard what they said.

Be sure to use your own words (showing you’ve synthesized what they’re saying), and concisely explain what you heard. 

Put your paraphrase into a question, to clarify whether or not you’ve understood their meaning correctly.

Remember, when someone moves out of silence, many times they move right into violence (after all, they believe this is the only other option). 

Anticipate what they say will contain a lot of judgements and interpretations, which can feel unsafe for you. 

To remain emotionally competent, check your stories (see chapter six).

Then help them by asking clarifying questions to arrive at their observations (minus the judgements and interpretations), and paraphrase that back to them – again, within questions to make sure you got it right.

Prime

If you’re not getting anywhere, it might be prudent to take a beat before returning to the process.

But if you think the other person just needs a bit of encouragement, you might want to prime them by walking them through what you know about their path – without them having told you.

Again, tentatively, and while ready to hand over the conversation to them at any moment when they’re ready to correct you and contribute.

Once they do start talking, be prepared with your ABCs.

Agree

When you see points of agreement, make sure to note them and move on from them.

Build

Instead of jumping on minor differences or incomplete information, agree and then add more meaning to their meaning.

Compare

When you do realize differences in your paths and stories, compare them. Be ready to abandon your stories that don’t make sense once you have more complete information.

And remember to presuppose that the other person is capable, reasonable, and well-meaning to preserve their sense that you respect them, and therefore preserving their sense of safety.

Now we know how to elicit information from those moving into silence and violence so they can safely contribute to the shared pool of meaning. Let’s talk about making crucial conversations effective beyond talking, and how to prevent recurrences of crucial conversations into the future.

Chapter 9: Making decisions and assignments.

This chapter is moving from navigating crucial conversations – maintaining safety for the free flow of meaning – to preventing crucial conversations in the future. And it’s actually a great set up for the authors’ follow up book, Crucial Accountability.

The question is how can you move from open dialogue and shared meaning in a crucial conversation to productive outcomes, and how can you prevent recurrences of crucial conversations into the future.

The answer is to decide how decisions will be made, make specific assignments, and follow up for accountability.

The arguments go like this:

Most crucial conversations take place within a continuing relationship, which means that safety must be maintained across conversations and interactions into the future, not just within isolated conversations.

Safety within a conversation is predicated on total honesty and deep respect, making it okay for everyone to contribute their meaning to the shared pool of meaning.

But deep respect is established over time by each party keeping their end of the agreements made over all interactions/conversations.

And keeping agreements is the realm of crucial accountability.

The crucial accountability arguments (in prep for the book Crucial Accountability) go like this: 

We’ve talked about the quality of decisions being dependent on the quality of the information that goes into them.

But open dialogue and shared pools of meaning don’t make decisions; people make decisions.

And dialogue and shared pools of meaning don’t take action; people take action.

If it’s unclear who will make the final decision and how, and who will follow through on the decisions by taking action, safety is at risk once again. 

This is because each party will take their own expectations with them into the future, and when other parties fail to meet those expectations, the foundation of trust is shaken and safety deteriorates – and at a more fundamental level than within a single crucial conversation.

The best way to prevent recurrences of crucial conversations is to firmly establish how decisions will be made, and who will be responsible for taking action on those decisions in the future.

We’ll start with how decisions are to be made.

The authors discuss there are four main ways that decisions can be made; command, consult, vote, consensus.

If it is clear who has the final say, then the command and consult approaches work. The open dialogue and shared pool of meaning were broadened specifically for the decision maker to have the best information from which to make the decision.

If there is reason to rely on other people for the decision making process, then voting or consensus make sense.

Voting specifically makes sense when there are multiple good choices from which to choose, and everyone agrees to the outcome of the vote.

And consensus, while trickier to navigate, might be necessary if everyone has to be on board to make one good (or the best available) decision.

Decide how to make decisions keeping in mind:

  1. The stakeholders of the decision (who cares about this decision – or who will it affect the most).
  2. Who knows the most relevant information on which the decision should be made.
  3. Who must be in agreement with the decision for successful follow through.
  4. And how many people are worth being involved in a particular decision to be made.

After determining how decisions will be made (which might require its own crucial conversation), it’s important that you make all of the decisions that need to be made within any given crucial conversation – or any conversation for that matter.

In other words, each decision likely has multiple other decisions associated with it. Like the steps involved in accomplishing what needs to happen, along with who will be responsible for each step along the way.

The key is to decide on all of these things specifically:

  • What needs to happen to accomplish what was decided?
  • Who will be responsible for each item listed?
  • What do they need to do to ensure it’s done correctly?
  • When is each item to be done? 
  • Are any items dependent on other items? How will interdependency be worked out?
  • How will follow through be tracked?
  • How will follow up conducted?

Dialogue and shared meaning will not make these decisions, nor will they make the expectations around these decisions explicit.

The authors made short work of the treatment of this follow up to handling crucial conversations. Essentially, for each of these follow up questions/decisions, you should remain in safety and continue to dialogue until decisions can be made confidently and explicitly.

Still, these topics require a deeper look, which is why I assume they wrote the book Crucial Accountability.

Now we know how to make crucial conversations productive, and the gist of how to prevent crucial conversations from recurring in the future. Thus concludes the summary of arguments from the best seller, Crucial Conversations.

The Missing Chapters

Chapters 10 and 11 exist in the book Crucial Conversations, but they serve as example chapters – reinforcing concepts and arguments previously expounded upon in the book.

Entreprising on Crucial Conversations

A Note from Tonya at Entreprising

I hope you enjoyed Entreprising’s Guide to Crucial Conversations – A summary of arguments.

To see how Crucial Conversations stacks up against the best business books, check out The List.

Also visit my Crucial Conversations Review to see how I scored it by The Rubric.

Questions, comments, concerns, and speeches are always welcome. Give me a shout at tonya@entreprising.com.

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