Some of us have had to face the stakeholders of our business and ask for financing, or permission to pursue a new market and/or purchase equipment. While these are more typical examples of crucial conversations, many everyday interactions could also be just as important.
A crucial conversation is one that covers three conditions: high stakes, differing opinions, and strong emotions. The first thing that tells you you’re in one is how you feel. The thing is, reacting to how you feel, as common as it is, greatly affects whether or not you get what you want. In business, that makes or breaks a project, an assignment, even a sale.
We asked Vina Vidal Vicente, an expert on business communication and public affairs, on exactly how recognizing and managing a crucial conversation could affect your business. Her insights are based on the book “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High,” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.
1. Helps improve dialogue and engagement
Mastering emotions in a crucial conversation helps one speak with anyone about anything to reach alignment and agreement on important matters.
For example, L. has always had difficulty speaking to people with authority. Whenever she is in a meeting with her boss, her heart would beat very fast and her hands would start to sweat. She learned exercises on managing her emotions through a crucial conversations session.
Soon, she began raising her hand and offering her opinions during meetings. Her boss took note and gave her more and more assignments. L. eventually took over from her boss after the latter left for another role.
2. Creates change in behavior
Being able to talk to anyone about particularly sensitive matters helps hasten the decision making process, encourages commitment to action, enhances productivity, and sustains meaningful relationships.
A. and Q. were good friends and work partners. Things generally ran smoothly between them, except during those times when Q. would show up at work after having biked his way from home. A. needed to tell Q. that his odor was very strong after biking, and that most of their coworkers avoid him when this happens. As a result, meetings would be deferred and deadlines would go unmet.
Using a crucial conversations tool, A. wrote down his feedback and rehearsed it before giving it to Q. When the conversation was over, Q. resolved to take quick showers after his bike rides and bring fresh clothes in his bag. Collaboration with other coworkers went more easily after that.
3. Builds a high performance culture
Consistent communication behavior leads to organizations, teams, and individuals developing high-performance cultures based on trust and respect.
J.’s team greatly appreciate how she ran her team. She provides candid, actionable feedback and also always remembers to give praise. Because of her leadership, they constantly look out for each other’s performance and make sure that their metrics are met.
Vicente will conduct a one-day course titled “Crucial Conversations: How to deal with Power, Position and Authority” on Nov. 9.