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Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High


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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-

BF637.C45.C78 153.6-dc21



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

ISBN 0-07-140194-6

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

CH. 2: Mastering Crucial Conversations

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

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