One of the greatest tragedies is seeing someone with incredible
talent get derailed because he or she lacks some basic skills.
Crucial Conversations addresses the number one reason execu
tives derail, and it provides extremely helpful tools to operate in
a fast-paced, results-oriented environment.”
-Karie A. Willyerd, chief talent officer, Solectron
“The book prescribes, with structure and wit, a way to improve on
the most fundamental element of organizational learning and
growth-honest, unencumbered dialogue between individuals.
There are one or two of the many leadership/management
‘thought’ books on my shelf that are frayed and dog-eared from
use. Crucial Conversations will no doubt end up in the same con
-John Gill, VP of Human Resources, Rolls Royce USA
Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny,
Ron McMillan, and AI Switzler
New York ChIcago San FrancIsco LIsbon
London Madrzd MexIco CIty MIlan New DelhI
San Juan Seoul Singapore Sydney Toronto
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Crucial Conversations : tools for talking when stakes are high / Kerry Patterson … [et al.].
p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-07-140194-6 1. International communication. 2. Interpersonal relations.
Patterson, Kerry, 1946-
A Division of The McGraw·Hill Companies �
Copyright © 2002 by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a data base or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
29 30 31 32 33 34 35 DOC/DOC 0 9 8 7
This book was set in R Life Roman by Patricia Caruso of McGraw-Hill Professional’s DTP composition unit in Hightstown, N.J.
Printed and bound by R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company.
McGraw-Hill books are available at special quantity discounts to use as premiums and sales promotions, or for use in corporate training programs. For more information, please write to the Director of Special Sales, Professional Publishing, McGraw-Hill, Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2298. Or contact your local bookstore.
We dedicate this book to
Louise, Celia, Bonnie, and Linda-
whose support is abundant,
whose love is nourishin�
and whose patience is just shy of infinite.
And to our children
Christine, Rebecca, Taylofi Scott,
Aislinn, Carat Seth, Samue� Hyrum,
Ambefi Megan, Chase, Hayley, Bryn,
Ambefi Laura, Becca, Rachael, Benjamin,
Meridith, Lindsey, Kelley, Todd
who have been a wonderful source of learning.
CH. 1: What’s a Crucial Conversation?
And Who Cares? 1
The Power of Dialogue 17
CH. 3: Start with Heart
How to Stay Focused on What You Really Want 27
CH. 4: Learn to Look
How to Notice When Safety Is at Risk 45
CH. 5: Make It Safe
How to Make It Safe to Talk about Almost Anything 65
CH. 6: Master My Stories
How to Stay in Dialogue When You ‘re Angry,
Scared, or Hurt 93
CH. 7: STATE My Path
How to Speak Persuasively, Not Abrasively 119
CH. 8: Explore Others’ Paths
How to Listen When Others Blow Up or Clam Up 141
CH. 9: Move to Action
How to Turn Crucial Conversations
into Action and Results 161
CH. 10: Putting It All Together
Tools for Preparing and Learning 179
CH. 11: Yeah, But
Advice for Tough Cases 193
CH. 12: Change Your Life
How to Turn Ideas into Habits 215
This is a breakthrough book. That is exactly how I saw it when
I first read the manuscript. I so resonated with the importance, power, and timeliness of its message that I even suggested to the
authors that they title it “Breakthrough Conversations.” But as I read deeper, listened to the tapes, and experienced the insight borne of years of experience with this material, I came to under