Saturday, February 02, 2008

Crucual Conversations: Do your communications skills really suck or what?

Well, do they? Do your communications skills really suck, or what? Not to boast, but mine really suck.

Sure, some of us are truly gifted "communicators", and a lot of us have fairly decent communications skills or at least a "mixed bag", but some of us are really lacking in key skills when it comes to crucial conversations, those high-stakes situations when there is a yawning chasm of expectations between the parties and emotions (of at least one of the parties) are extremely high. These are the situations when your "natural" instinct may be to get very angry or to totally withdraw from the situation, either option causing a potentially great loss on your part. Sure, all too often one of the parties is instigating the sense of confrontation for their own gain, but that is not a very acceptable excuse for failing to meet your own goals in such a situation.

There is actually a book by the title Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High and a training series run by Vital Smarts that focuses on helping people understand and develop skills to excel in such crucial conversations. Such skills are applicable to our personal lives and relationships as well as business and public life, but are especially essential for ambitious entrepreneur-types, or anybody who want to accomplish anything where you run into situations where the communications are "sticky."

I would dearly love to say that I have mastered all of these skills, but in fact I do quite poorly at them.

I have not yet read the entire book or taken the training, but I have read the first chapter which is online. The summary from that first chapter tells us that:

When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions start to run strong, casual conversations become crucial. Ironically, the more crucial the conversation, the less likely we are to handle it well. The consequences of either avoiding or fouling up crucial conversations can be severe. When we fail a crucial conversation, every aspect of our lives can be affected -- from our careers, to our communities, to our relationships, to our personal health.

As we learn how to step up to crucial conversations -- and handle them well -- with one set of skills we can influence virtually every domain of our lives.

What is this all-important skill-set? What do people who sail through crucial conversations actually do? More importantly, can we do it too?

I only ran across this book and approach to communications yesterday, but it certainly seems worth pursuing as a big bang for a modest buck.

Here is the book on Amazon:

-- Jack Krupansky


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