Think “things.” How can things help motivate you? Actually,
this particular concept isn’t easy to grasp. An example might
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.
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 .
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
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.