Notes on Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler


How ppl behave when someone disagrees with them is crucial

Chapter 1 what's a crucial conversation and who cares

People like to dodge difficult issues

Sending email instead of talking

Stakes are high

Opinions vary

Emotions run high

Unhealthy downward spirals

Silence fails

Chapter 2 mastering crucial conversations the power of dialogue

The key mistake is the fool's choice

Belief that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend

It's possible to be 100% honest and 100% respectful


Get all key pieces of information out into the open

Free flow of meaning between people

The greater the shared meaning the stronger the conviction by everyone

Chapter 3 start with the heart how to stay focused on what you really want

Work on me first and us second

Fix the belief that it is others that ail us and w need to fix them

The desire to win causes us to react badly to pressure in a conversation

Pay attention to what u really want and check your notices throughout the convo

Stop and ask yourself some questions

What do I really want for myself

What do I really want for others

What do I want for the relationship

How would I behave if I really wanted these results

Find your bearings

Take charge of your body

Not dealing with physical threats

Get focus on brain

Refuse the fool's choice

Not choosing between attacking and hiding

Search for elusive and

Clarify what u want

What u don't want

Present more complex problem to brain

Come up with creative solutions

Ch 4 learn to look how to notice when safety is at risk

Watch two elements: content and conditions

What ppl are feeling and doing in response

Look for 3 signs

Moment conversation turns crucial

Signs that people don't feel safe

Your own style under stress

Learn to spot when turns crucial

Physical body cues

Fear prevents meaning from coming across so have to make situation safe

Be curious about what u notice

Silence and violence


Masking: understating, shading, sarcasm

Avoiding: steering away from sensitive subjects

withdrawing; exiting the convo


Verbal strategies aiming to compel people to ur view

Controlling: cutting others off, overstating facts, speaking in absolutes, changing subjects, using directed questions

Labeling: putting in category so can stereotype

Attacking; belittling and threatening

Look at your own style under stress

Survey at /sus

Learn to look

Ch 5 make it safe to talk about anything

Step out of the content of what's being discussed

Mutual purpose/entrance condition

Shared goal

That someone cares about your values

Watch for signs that mutual purpose is at risk




Hidden agendas

Do others believe I care about their goals in this convo

Do they trust my motives

Look for the mutuality

Think about it from their perspective and find ways subject can be brought up based on what they care about

Mutual respect: the continuance condition

Will we be able to remain in dialogue

No respect makes convo about defending dignity

Signs respect in danger

Fear turns to anger


Name calling

Do others believe I respect them

Honor and regard another persons basic humanity

Focus on ways u are similar


What to do once u step out



Create a mutual purpose

Step out of the convo, build safety, then step back into the content

Apologize when u have hurt others

Apology is a statement of ur sorrow for ur role in causing or not preventing difficulty to others

Sacrifice a bit of ur ego for what u value

Contrast to fix misunderstanding

Don't/do statement

Don't have malicious intent

Do respect them and want to accomplish ur goal

Not about apologizing but about making message not hurt as much

Contrast provides context and proportion

Create a mutual purpose


C = Commit to form mutual purpose

Stop arguing and commit to keep talking until get to mutual good decision

R = recognize the purpose behind the strategy

Ask why do you want that to find underlying purpose

I = invent mutual purpose

If goals totally separate then think of broader and deeper ones u both value

B = brainstorm new strategies

Ch 6 master my stories how to stay in dialogue when angry scared or hurt

Other people do not make u feel an emotion

You create your emotions

Then you can choose to act on them or be acted upon by them

4 steps: see or hear someone do something, tell story, feel, act

Path to action

Stories create feelings

When we see an action we tell ourselves a story and add meaning to the action

We guess the motive and add judgment to it

We can rethink the stories we tell ourselves

Skills to retell stories

Slow down and take charge of path to action

Retrace your path to action

Act: notice your behavior. Am I in silence or violence?

Feel: get in touch with what feeling. Do u use rich vocabulary of emotion terms?

Story: analyze what story giving u the emotion. Challenge whether this is the only story.

See: get back to the facts. what evidence do I have supporting the story. Can u see or hear the thing ur calling a fact?

Spot the story by watching for hot terms

Loaded words that are emotional and imply interpretation

Clever stories allow us to feel good about behaving badly

3 types of clever stories

Victim stories, it's not my fault

Ignores your role and contribution

Minimize our blame

Villain stories, it's all your fault

Impute bad motives

Maximize their blame


Watch for the double standard

Helpless stories

There is nothing else I can do

Look forward to explain why can't do anything about situation

Clever stories get us off the hook

Keep us from acknowledging our own sell outs

Sell outs: when don't do something u think u should like helping someone or apologizing

Turn clever story into useful one

Clever stories incomplete

So tell the rest of it

Turn victims into actors

Turn villains into human beings

Why would a decent rational person do this

Turn helpless into able

Return to ur original motive and what really want

Kill the fools choice

What would I do now if really wanted these results

Ch 7 state my path how to speak persuasively not abrasive lay

Sharing risky meaning

Frank and respectful

Maintain safety

Blend confidence humility and skill


Say what needs to be said to person who needs to hear it


Realizing others have valuable input

STATE your path

Share your facts

Tell your story

Ask for others paths

Talk tentatively

Encourage testing

Share your facts

Facts least controversial

Most persuasive

Least insulting

When you tell your story say it like a possible story

Tell your story

Look for safety problems

Use contrast

Ask for others paths

Show humility

Be open to learning

Talk tentatively

I was wondering why

In my opinion

Perhaps you were unaware

It's leading me to conclude... Am I missing something?

Encourage testing

I would really love to hear from you

Play devils advocate

Seek Differing views

Ch 8 explore others paths how to listen when others blow up or clam up

Encourage others to share their path to action, their facts and stories

Be ready to listen

BE curious

Be sincere

Get at the underlying source of silence or violence

Be patient

Encourage others to retrace their path

Power listening tools


ask to get things rolling

What do you mean?

What's going on

I really want to hear your thoughts on this

Mirror to confirm feelings

Describe how other person looks or acts

Can point out inconsistencies between words and body language

You say you're ok but by the tone of your voice you seem upset

Paraphrase to acknowledge the story


When getting nowhere

Offer best guess at others meaning

Ch 9 move to action turning convos into results

Deciding how to decide

4 ways to decide






No involvement of others

External forces


Let others influence you

Gather ideas


Good for efficiency


Can waste time

Only for high stakes and where need commitment of all

4 questions

Who cares

Who knows

Who must agree

How many ppl worth involving

Make assignments

Put decisions into action


Does what

By when

How often and with what method do we follow up


Must be one name per assignment

Does what

Spell out exact deliverables

Bring a prototype or sample

Use contrast for what u don't want

Document your work

Write down details of assignments

Ch 10 yeah but Advice for tough cases

17 tough caSes

Focus on the pattern of behavior

Start with mutual purpose

Assume not intending to do bad

Ch 11 tools for learning

Focus on a couple important skills

Learn to look

Make it safe, Ask a question, touch, request timeout

How to prepare