Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition

brain that’s drunk on adrenaline


What do you have to work with? The issue at hand, the other person, and a brain that’s drunk on adrenaline and almost incapable of rational thought.


You can still screw up, because practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.


Twenty years of research involving more than 100,000 people reveals that the key skill of effective leaders, teammates, parents, and loved ones is the capacity to skillfully address emotionally and politically risky issues. Period.


Twenty years of research involving more than 100,000 people reveals that the key skill of effective leaders, teammates, parents, and loved ones is the capacity to skillfully address emotionally and politically risky issues. Period.


So we studied over 2,200 projects and programs that had been rolled out at hundreds of organizations worldwide. The findings were stunning. You can predict with nearly 90 percent accuracy which projects will fail—months or years in advance


Most leaders get it wrong. They think that organizational productivity and performance are simply about policies, processes, structures, or systems. So when their software product doesn’t ship on time, they benchmark others’ development processes. Or when productivity flags, they tweak their performance management system. When teams aren’t cooperating, they restructure. Our research shows that these types of nonhuman changes fail more often than they succeed. That’s because the real problem never was in the process, system, or structure—it was in employee behavior.


The mistake most of us make in our crucial conversations is we believe that we have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend. We begin believing in the Fool’s Choice from an early age. For instance, we learned that when Grandma served an enormous wedge of her famous Brussel-Sprout Pie à la mode then asks, “Do you like it?”—she really meant: “Do you like me?” When we answered honestly and saw the look of hurt and horror on her face—we made a decision that affected the rest of our lives: “From this day forward, I will be alert for moments when I must choose between candor and kindness.”


hospitals don’t have a monopoly on fear.


“He that complies against his will is of his own opinion still.”


functions start shutting down. Not only do you prepare to take flight, but your peripheral