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Think “things.” How can things help motivate you? Actually,

this particular concept isn’t easy to grasp. An example might

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help. You’re unsuccessfully trying to lose weight. It turns out

that your early-morning iron will turns into midday rubber as

your stomach begins to growl and you sniff the air of the restau­

rant you frequent for lunch. What can you do with things to help

keep you on track?

Pack a sensible lunch first thing in the morning when your will

is strong. Take no money with you. That way it won’t be easy to

cave in to your weaker, afternoon wishes. By structuring around

your self-control cycles, you heighten the power of your stronger

motives whi le lessening the blow of you weaker moments.

Schedule crucial conversations when you’re feeling confident.

Practice befurehHnd. Ta ke nutes . Set up your office the way you

 

 

226 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

would like. Anned with smart timing and material support,

you’re far more likely to step up to tough problems effectively.

Build in Cues

To remind yourself to use your new skills, create helpful cues.

Mark hot spots. People who go through stress-reduction train­

ing learn to mark physical items that are closely linked to their

sources of tension. People who freak out in traffic put a small red

circle on their steering wheel. Individuals who are constantly in

a rush put one on their watch.

When it comes to the tough conversations you face, you might

want to make use of small visual cues as well. Place one on the

computer that spits out results that drive you nuts. Build a cue

into your copy of the agenda of any meeting that typically serves

up tough problems.

Set aside a time. Perhaps the best way to remind yourself to

use your new skills is to set aside a time each day to walk around

in search of both successes and problems. When you see a suc­

cess, celebrate. When you encounter a problem, bring your best

dialogue tools into play.

Read reactions. If you’re not doing a good job of holding cru­

cial conversations, the results are going to be right in front of

you. If you see that you’re getting off track, back up and start

over. Use real-life cues (e.g., the other person’s jaw tenses, he or

she clams up, etc.) to remind yourself that maybe it’s time to try

a new tactic. If necessary, apologize. Move to an earlier place in

the discussion and follow the process.

Build in permanent reminders. Order a poster of the model,

place it on the wall, and look at it each morning as you start the day.

Carry a reminder. Along with the poster, order a set of cue

cards you can tuck into your purse or shirt pocket.

 

 

CHANGE YOUR LIFE 227

A DIGITAL ASSIST

We’ve tried to include in this book everything you’ll need to con­

duct crucial conversations. Our goal was to provide a complete,

stand-alone tool for personal change. Nevertheless, when it

comes to improving social interactions, the digital domain has a

lot to offer as well. Audio, video, and other digital tools can

enhance your learning experience.

As an additional resource, we invite you to our website. There

you’ll find a variety of tools for helping you transform the printed

word into daily actions. Digital tools include conceptual, behav­

ioral, and cuing tools.

Conceptual Tools

Watch. To give you live-action views of the skills we cover, we’ve

added video examples to our website. Visit us at www.crucial­

conversations.com and check out video clips for specific skills.

Listen. Many people enjoy listening to audiotapes or CDs as

they commute to and from work each day. We’ve put together an

audio mastery course that not only reviews the material chapter

by chapter, but also provides audio examples of what the skills

sound like when put into action. Move your knowledge from the

abstract to the concrete as you hear how the theories translate

into words and the words build into usable scripts .

Behavioral Tools

If you’d like to practice specific skills with the aid of a role-play

tool, go to our website and check out Free Resources to down­

load role-play rehearsals. Print out the role plays and then work

with a partner until you’ve mastered the skill.

 

 

228 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

Cuing Tools

Visit www.crucia1conversations.com to sign up for regular tips,

reminders, and other resources to keep you watching for oppor­

tunities to use your crucial conversations skills .

A PARTING THOUGHT

We’ll be forever indebted to the wonderful people who allowed

us to roll up our sleeves, work side by side with them, and study

their best practices. We’re particularly grateful to individuals

who allowed us to watch them as they struggled to work through

crucial conversations. It’s hard enough to sort out facts, stories,

and feelings without being scrutinized under a microscope while

you’re doing it.

We hope that by sharing the theories, skills, and models we’ve

learned from these dear friends and colleagues, we’ll help you

feel more comfortable stepping up to your own crucial conver­

sations. You’ll be able to add to the pool of available meaning,

make better decisions, and work in a way that both gets the job

done and enhances your relationships.

So we encourage you to pick a relationship. Pick a conversa­

tion. Let others know that you’re trying to do better, then give

it a shot. When you blow it, admit it. Don’t expect perfection;

aim for progress. And when you succeed, celebrate your suc­

cess. We hope you’ll take pleasure in knowing that you’re

improving and so are your relationships. Finally, when the

chance arises, help others do the same. Help friends, loved

ones, and coworkers learn to master their own high-stakes dis­

cussions. Help strengthen organizations, solidify families, heal

communities, and shore up nations one person-one crucial

conversation-at a time.

 

 

Endnotes

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