Why is safety at risk?
• Have I established
• Am I maintaining
What will I do to rebuild
What is my story?
What am I pretending not
to know about my role in
Why would a reasonable,
rational, and decent person
What should I do right now
to move toward what I
Am I really open to others’
Am I talking about the real
Am I confidently expressing
my own views?
Am I actively exploring
1 88 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
Coaching for Crucial Conversations (Continued)
Decide how you’ll
and follow up.
let’s See How It Al l Works
Am I avoiding unnecessary
How will we make
Who will do what by when?
How will we follow up?
We’ve included an extended case here to show how these prin
ciples might look when you find yourself in the middle of a cru
cial conversation. It outlines a tough discussion between you
and your sister about dividing your mother’s estate. The case is
set up to illustrate where the principles apply, and to briefly
review each principle as it comes up in the conversation.
The conversation begins with you bringing up the family sum
merhouse. Your mother’s funeral was a month ago, and now it’s
time to split up both money and keepsakes. You’re not really
looking forward to it.
The issue is made touchier by the fact that you feel that since
you almost single-handedly cared for your mother during the
last several years, you should be compensated. You don’t think
your sister will see things the same way.
You r Crucial Conversation
YOU: We have to sell the summer cottage. We never use it,
and we need the cash to pay for my expenses from taking
care of Mom the past four years.
pum N G IT ALL TOG ETH ER 1 89
SISTER: Please don’t start with the guilt. I sent you money
every month to help take care of Mom. If I didn’t have
to travel for my jobs, you know I would have wanted her
at my house.
You notice that emotions are already getting strong. You’re
getting defensive, and your sister seems to be angry. You’re in a
crucial conversation, and it’s not going well.
Start with Heart
Ask yourself what you really want. You want to be compensated
fairly for the extra time and money you put in that your sister
didn’t. You also want to keep a good relationship with your sister.
But you want to avoid making a Sucker’s Choice. So you ask
yourself: “How can I tell her that I want to be compensated
fairly for the extra effort and expense I put in and keep a good
Learn to Look
You recognize a lack of Mutual Purpose-you’re both trying to
defend your actions rather than discuss the estate.
Make It Safe
Contrast to help your sister understand your purpose.
YOU: I don’t want to start an argument or try to make you
feel guilty. But I do want to talk about being compensated
for shouldering most of the responsibility over the last few
years. I love Mom, but it put quite a strain on me finan
cially and emotionally.
SISTER: What makes you think you did so much more than I
1 90 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
Master My Stories
You’re telling yourself that you deserve more because you did
more to care for your mother and covered unplanned expenses.
Retrace your Path to Action to find out what facts are behind the
story you’re telling that’s making you angry.
STATE My Path
You need to share your facts and conclusions with your sister in
a way that will make her feel safe telling her story.
YOU: It’s just that I spent a lot of money taking care of Mom
and did a lot of work caring for her instead of bringing in
a nurse. I know you cared about Mom too, but I honestly
feel like I did more in the day-to-day caregiving than you
did, and it only seems fair to use some of what she left us
to repay a part of what I spent. Do you see it differently?
I’d really like to hear.
SISTER: Okay, fine. Why don’t you just send me a bill.
It sounds as though your sister isn’t really okay with this
arrangement. You can tell her voice is tense and her tone is one
of giving in, not of true agreement.