The Danger Point
If people simply bother you at some abstract level, maybe what
they’re doing isn’t worthy of a conversation. Perhaps the prob
lem is not their behavior but your tolerance. For example, an
executive laments, “My employees really disappoint me. Just
look at the length of their hair.” It turns out that the employees
in question have no contact with anyone besides one another.
Their hair length has nothing to do with job performance. The
boss really has no reason to say anything.
However, when actions are both subtle and unacceptable,
then you have to retrace your Path to Action and put your finger
on exactly what others are doing or you have nothing to discuss.
Abstract descriptions peppered with your vague conclusions or
stories have no place in crucial conversations. For example,
whenever your family gets together, your brother constantly
takes potshots at everyone else using sarcastic humor. The indi
vidual comments aren’t directly insulting enough to discuss.
What you want to talk about is the fact that these constant com
ments make every get-together feel negative. Remember, clarify
ing the facts is the homework required for crucial conversations.
Retrace your Path to Action to its source. Identify specific behaviors
that are out of bounds and take note. When you’ve done your home
work, consider the behaviors you noted and make sure the story
you’re telling yourself about these behaviors is important enough for
dialogue. If it is, then Make It Safe and STATE Your Path.
SHOWS NO INITIATIVE
SOME MEMBERS OF MY WORK TEAM do what they’re
asked, but no more. If they run into a problem, they “YEAH, BUT. ..
lake’ one simple slab at fixing it. But if their efforts
don’t pay ofr, thc’y qllit. ”
204 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
The Danger Point
Most people are far more likely to talk about the presence of a
bad behavior than the absence of a good one. When someone
really messes up, leaders and parents alike are compelled to take
action. However, when people simply fail to be excellent, it’s
hard to know what to say.
Establish new and higher expectations. Don’t deal with a specific
instance; deal with the overall pattern. If you want someone to
show more initiative, tell him or her. Give specific examples of
when the person ran into a barrier and then backed off after a
single try. Raise the bar and then make it crystal clear what
you’ve done. Jointly brainstorm what the person could have done
to be both more persistent and more creative in coming up with