stand why it is titled Crucial Conversations.
From my own work with organizations, includingand from my own experience, I have come to see that there are
a few defining moments in our lives and careers that make all the difference. Many of these defining moments come from
“crucial” or “breakthrough” conversations with important peo
ple in emotionally charged situations where the decisions made take us down one of several roads, each of which leads to an
entirely different destination.
I can see the wisdom in the assertion of the great historian Arnold Toynbee, who said that you can pretty well summarize all of history-not only of society, but of institutions and of people in four words: Nothing fails like success. In other words, when a challenge in life is met by a response that is equal to it, you have success. But when the challenge moves to a higher level,
the old, once successful response no longer works-it fails; thus, nothing fails like success.
The challenge has noticeably changed for our lives, our fami lies, and our organizations. Just as the world is changing at
frightening speed and has become increasingly and profoundly interdependent with marvelous and dangerous technologies, so, too, have the stresses and pressures we all experience exponen
tially increased. This charged atmosphere makes it all the more imperative that we nourish our relationships and develop tools, skills, and enhanced capacity to find new and better solutions to
our problems. These newer, better solutions will not represent “my way” or
“your way”-they will represent “our way.” In short, the solu tions must be synergistic, meaning that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Such synergy may manifest itself in a bet ter decision, a better relationship, a better decision-making process, increased commitment to implement decisions made,
or a combination of two or more of these. What you learn is that “crucial conversations” transform peo
ple and relationships. They are anything but transacted; they create an entirely new level of bonding. They produce what Buddhism calls “the middle way” -not a compromise between two opposites on a straight-line continuum, but a higher middle
way, like the apex of a triangle. Because two or more people
have created something new from genuine dialogue, bonding takes place-just like the bonding that takes place in family or
marriage when a new child is created. When you produce some thing with another person that is truly creative, it’s one of the most powerful forms of bonding there is. In fact the bonding is so strong that you simply would not be disloyal in his or her
absence, even if there were social pressure to join others in bad mouthing.
The sequential development of the subject matter in this book is brilliant. It moves you from understanding the supernal power
of dialogue, to clarifying what you really want to have happen and focusing on what actually is happening, to creating conditions of safety, to using self-awareness and self-knowledge. And finally, it moves you to learning how to achieve such a level of mutual understanding and creative synergy that people are emotionally connected to the conclusions reached and are emotionally willing
and committed to effectively implementing them. In short, you move from creating the right mind- and heart-set to developing and utilizing the right skill-set.