Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: Crucial Conversations

Today's book review does not feature leadership or management in the title or table of contents. Even so, I personally consider the contents of this book to be among the most critically important skills any leader or manager can learn.

The book is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler. This is one of the few books I would recommend for anyone regardless of career, role, interests, or background.

I will start with my own observations about why this is such an important topic. None of us are born with the knowledge and skill to have meaningful and productive conversations - especially when the subject matter is difficult and emotions run high. The dialog skills we are born with might keep us alive, but they do not help us thrive, grow close with others, and work together to accomplish dreams.

Those skills we must learn. The tough part is that we need to learn them from people who know them and are able to transfer that knowledge to others. The even tougher part is that there just aren't that many of those people around. So many people live in fear that silences their voice or causes them to silence others.

That's where Crucial Conversations comes into play. The book itself defines a crucial conversation as one where opinions vary, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong. If we consider any of the meaningful areas in our life - whether personal or professional, it's easy to see that the most important parts frequently entail these types of conversations. If we are interacting with people and we care, we need these skills.

This book is essentially a how-to manual that helps the reader diagnose conversations that aren't going well, learn the reasons why this happens, and, most importantly, learn the tools of effective dialog. The tools are easily understood and explained with multiple sample conversations. This is material that you can't read just once and master. Each tool takes time to incorporate into our own conversation tool-belts - it takes practice and reflection.

Perhaps the best recommendations I can offer for Crucial Conversations come from some of my co-workers. We give this book to every employee when they join our organization and we frequently discuss the tools. Over the years, several people have approached me to share that this resource has definitely helped them at work, but that it has transformed or saved their marriage.

Finally, I include such a far-reaching book as a leadership / management recommendation because these roles always involve relationships with others. Any leader or manager wishing to be effective will need the ability to have difficult conversations. I know of no better resource to learn these skills.

Happy Reading!

David M. Dye

Subscribe today or join the discussion at:
Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home