DOCUMENT YOUR WORK
Once again, a proverb comes to mind. “One dull pencil is worth
six sharp minds.” Don’t leave your hard work to memory. If
you’ve gone to the effort to complete a crucial conversation,
don’t fritter away all the meaning you created by trusting your
memories. Write down the details of conclusions, decisions, and
assignments. Remember to record who does what by when.
Revisit your notes at key times (usually the next meeting) and
As you review what was supposed to be completed, hold peo
ple accountable. When someone fails to deliver on a promise, it’s
t ime for dialogue. Discuss the issue by using the STATE skills we
covered in Chapter 7. By holding people accountable, not only
do you increase their motivation and ability to deliver on prom
ises. but you create a culture of integrity.
1 7 8 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
SUMMARY- MOVE TO ACTION
Turn your successful crucial conversations into great decisions
and united action by avoiding the two traps of violated expecta
tions and inaction.
Decide How to Decide
• Command. Decisions are made without involving others.
• Consult. Input is gathered from the group and then a subset
• Vote. An agreed-upon percentage swings the decision.
• Consensus. Everyone comes to an agreement and then sup
ports the final decision.
Determine who does what by when . Make the deliverables crys
tal clear. Set a follow-up time. Record the commitments and then
follow up. Finally, hold people accountable to their promises.
Communication works for those who work at it.
Putting It Al l
Together Tools for Preparing
If you read the previous pages in a short period of time, you
probably feel like an anaconda who just swallowed a warthog.
It’s a lot to digest.
You may well be wondering at this point how you can possi
bly keep all these ideas straight -especially during something as
unpredictable and fast moving as a crucial conversation.
This chapter will help with the daunting task of making dia
logue tools and skills memorable and useable. First, we’ll sim
plify things by sharing what we’ve heard from people who have
L:hanged their lives by using these skills. Second, we’ll lay out a
model that can help you visually organize the seven dialogue
principles. Third, wc’ l I walk through an example of a crucial
convcrsation where al l t he d ia logue principles are applied.
1 80 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
Over the years, people often tell us that the principles and skills
contained in this book have helped them a great deal. But how?
In what way can the printed word lead to important changes?
After watching people at home and at work, as well as inter
viewing them, we’ve learned that most people make progress not
by focusing on specific skills-at least to start with-but instead
by applying two of the main principles in this book. We hope
that as we share their success strategies with you, you’ll feel
more confident getting started on the road to improved results
Learn to Look. The first lever for positive change is Learn to
Look. That is, people who improve their dialogue skills continu
ally ask themselves whether they’re in or out of dialogue. This
alone makes a huge difference. Even people who can’t remember
or never learned the skills of STATE or CRIB, etc., are able to
benefit from this material by simply asking if they’re falling into
silence or violence. They may not know exactly how to fix the
specific problem they’re facing, but they do know that if they’re
not in dialogue, it can’t be good. And then they try something to
get back to dialogue. As it turns out, trying something is better
than doing nothing.
So remember to ask the following important question: “Are
we playing games or are we in dialogue?” It’s a wonderful start.
Many people get additional help in learning to look from their
friends. They go through training as families or teams. As they
share concepts and ideas, they learn a common vocabulary. This
shared way of talking about crucial conversations helps people