📚 Meister Book Club: Crucial Conversations (Grenny, McMillan, Switzler, Patterson)

Martha camacho
Martha camacho MeisterLobster, EN Business Posts: 14 Star Contributor
edited July 2023 in Community Café

Hey everybody!

I'm excited to be sharing my contribution to the Meister Book Club this month.

@Miša Hennin reached out to me after I mentioned Crucial Conversations in this thread - I hope you enjoy this short summary!

We've all experienced conversations where different opinions about a topic clash and emotions run high. When this happens, we go one of two ways: we either react in the heat of the moment or instead disengage to avoid the problem. Both approaches come with consequences which have short and long-term impacts. With this in mind, this month's book recommendation will help you discover how to communicate best when it matters most.

Crucial Conversations describes the 7 steps necessary to maintaining peace and respect in conversations with highly charged emotions.

  1. ❤️ Start with the heart (i.e empathy and positive intent)

    More often than not, we forget that how we discuss something matters just as much as what we discuss. If we converse with respect for the other person, communication will flow and stay open. If we converse with anger, it's likely that a breakdown in conversation occurs.
    It is also important to remember that we all have baggage which shapes the way we view things. As a result, we should try to keep an open mind and understand why somebody might be looking at a situation through a different lens.

  2. 🗣️ Stay in dialogue

    It takes two to tango and, similarly, it takes two to maintain effective communication. Keep communication channels open, practice active listening and don't interrupt.

  3. 🔒 Make it safe

    Being open, calm and receptive is key to making sure that the other person feels "safe" enough to continue talking and sharing their point of view. Once a person feels that the conversation is no longer "safe", there are 3 possible outcomes: Masking (where we only pretend to agree or listen); Avoiding (where we employ distraction techniques); and Withdrawing.

    In Crucial Conversations, the authors suggest the following methods for keeping conversations in a safe space:

    - Ask questions to get things rolling; for example: “I’d really like to hear your opinion on…”-
    - Confirm what you are seeing but mind your tone of voice. For example, “I sense you are angry..." or ”You look unsure…”. These phrases can change the whole course of the conversation.
    - Paraphrase what you heard to show genuine interest and empathy.

    Also, never forget the power of the word "Sorry" if you did indeed say something wrong!

  4. 🪝 Don’t get hooked by emotion (or hook them)

    The key is to be honest without being offensive - this requires a lot of practice! Whenever you engage in a conversation where emotions run high, remember to do it with confidence (do not start a crucial conversation feeling insecure), humility (remember that you don't know everything) and a focus on staying in dialogue.

  5. 🤝 Agree a mutual purpose

    This is important for ensuring a positive outcome. It is difficult to solve all problems at once, but by finding some common ground, it is at least more likely. Ultimately, we might not agree on how we view things but if we agree on what we want to accomplish, it will be easier to continue the conversation without one perspective dominating.

  6. 📘 Separate facts from story

    Facts can be verified. We create stories based on facts that reflect our personal past experiences. For example, one person might think that their partner is not answering their call (fact) because they are having an affair (story) while another person can think that they ran out of battery (story).

  7. 👍 Agree a clear action plan

    Just because we have reached a middle ground and did everything mentioned above, it does not necessarily mean we will have a successful outcome. We still need to make sure that actions are defined and taken to improve the situation. We should also plan on a follow up to see the results of our actions and to assess if we are on the right path.

Since reading this book, I've tried to implement the principles in my own communication patterns. Changing our ways isn't easy, but being aware of better ways is a great start!

I'd love to hear what you think of these principles and whether you've heard of or read the book. Let me know in the comments.

Have a great day!



  • Rooster McNugget
    Rooster McNugget MT Tester, DE Business Posts: 623 Community Leader

    Hi @Martha camacho and thank you for this book recommendation.

    I think this is a very important topic which is addressed in this book. Unfortunately, too often people always answer in a "defensive attitude" or criticism is taken too personally. The 7 points you listed are top in my eyes. These should be presented to every employee once a month. From my point of view, good, clear and fair communication within a company is essential for a good working atmosphere and for the success of a company.

    Best, Samuel

    The impossible does not exist! The solution has just not been found yet!

  • Martha camacho
    Martha camacho MeisterLobster, EN Business Posts: 14 Star Contributor

    @Rooster McNugget I'm really glad you liked the book recommendation!

    I totally agree with you that having good and open communication is key to having a good working atmosphere and these points are really the basis for achieving it.

    What I also like about this book is that I can use the technique even when talking to family or friends when a delicate topic is being discussed. Obviously in these cases maybe not all points apply but to always remind yourself that the only way to understand one another is by talking and respecting each other, that already makes a huge difference! ❤️

  • Admin BSF.company
    Admin BSF.company International Partner, MT Tester, EN Business Posts: 487 Community Leader

    Hello @Martha camacho thanks for such a great summary 📗

    I agree with Samuel in that these skills should be taught in workplaces, even schools. The world would surely benefit from it.

    I'm curious about what you find the most challenging point in the list of recommendations made by the authors?

    In my opinion, point #4 seems the most tricky.

    Sometimes, trying to be honest without being offensive feels like walking on a sword's edge because the issue frequently resides in the other person building "the offensive story" in their head, and we can't control such a phenomenon.


    • It might be better to choose carefully whom to have crucial conversations with?
    • Remember that "response" and "react" are always optional?

    What's your take on this? 🤨

    Best regards and thanks again for the thought-provoking reading 😃


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  • Martha camacho
    Martha camacho MeisterLobster, EN Business Posts: 14 Star Contributor

    Ufff good question @Andres D'Andrea ! Point 4 is absolutely tricky and that is why I think all the points go hand in hand. I think one of the things I try to always remember (especially being an emotional person myself) is that if I need to have this kind of conversation, I can't have it when the emotion is still high in me because the end result will just be a disaster and it would be purely an emotion-based reaction. However, not having them is not an option because then things can escalate so you should always address things.

    What I usually do is ask the other person if we can have the conversation later on. In the meantime, while I calm down I will also try to go over the facts in my head and try to separate them from the emotion I am feeling. However, when I'm having the conversation I would also let the other person know how the facts made me feel and I ask them: if the roles were reversed, how would that action make them feel? I think this is basic for creating trust and creating a mutual understanding of where we are coming from. So even if the other person comes back with an "offensive story" it helps to take a minute and analyze just the facts. Not gonna lie, this is not easy but after some practice it starts to come natural.

    I find this approach especially useful when I'm having a conversation with my husband! While we both come from a similar background, we are both Mexican and share a lot of things in common; his views and my views of things are often different and of course there might lead to misunderstandings. Knowing that we are talking from love and respect for each other, helps us to try to understand better each other.❤️

  • Admin BSF.company
    Admin BSF.company International Partner, MT Tester, EN Business Posts: 487 Community Leader

    I love your response @Martha camacho, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    It surely helps a lot to ask questions instead of assuming things on our own. Asking questions allows participants to afford to be mistaken without guilt, in the pursuit of reaching an understanding.

    Asking questions keeps the conversation free of accusations.

    Something I've started to practice lately in my life is postponing crucial conversations for a time in which emotions don't play a role (as you mentioned). It's much better that way, indeed!

    Another trick in my hat that I've applied successfully is to close my eyes when I'm having crucial conversations, especially with loved ones.

    This is the deal with our eyes…

    Eyes are magnificent devices to exchange emotional information! They're windows to our mind, heart, and soul.

    Closing my eyes during crucial conversation with loved ones helps me in three crucial ways:

    • It shuts down the emotional part of an exchange (both input and output)
    • I put my undivided attention on listening to my counterpart
    • I position myself more easily in their shoes

    In other words, closing my eyes prevents me from misinterpreting the messenger and also, prevents me from sending the wrong message.

    Can't wait to see what's your next book recommendation Martha, I like your taste for books 📚

    Regards 👋

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  • Miša Hennin
    Miša Hennin Admin, MeisterLobster, EN Business, DE Advocate Posts: 1,454 Community Admin

    Hi @Martha camacho thanks so much for sharing your book recommendation and thoughts.

    I really value good communication so this summary was super interesting for me. I also see some overlaps with the principles of non-violent communication.

    @Rooster McNugget I absolutely agree! Everybody thinks they know how to communicate since they've been doing so since childhood. But to communicate properly is a completely different thing. I love your idea of sharing this with employees and insisting on repetition. Only through repetition would it become practice. These principles should also be at the forefront of any conflict resolution. Have you tried to bring the topic of proper communication to your team?

    Before I even saw @Andres D'Andrea's comment I was thinking about which of these are most important/ challenging and also came to the conclusion of number 4.

    Like @Martha camacho, this is something I really try to practice, especially when I receive a message/ hear something I don't like. It's so so easy to reply instinctively and lash out but taking a break and returning to the conversation once you've processed the emotions triggered is such a better idea. It's always surprising to me how quickly negative emotions lose power. Just a short break can make all the difference in how you feel about it.

    And wow Andrés, I've never thought about closing my eyes but when I imagine I can really see it working! I guess removing sight would help me focus on my words and speak more calmly. Will definitely try and remember this tip!