Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior

Earlier this week I finished Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, David Maxfield. These same authors also wrote Crucial Conversations – Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High that I read earlier this year and consider one of the best leadership and management books. These same authors also wrote Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior and Influencer but my understanding is that none of those come close to Crucial Conversations in terms of value and depth. All these are results of several decades of research and experiment in the field of human behavior related to team and organizational performance.

In this book the authors suggest that crucial confrontation skills are organized around before (work on me first), during (confront with safety) and after (move to action) the discussion to achiever the best results.

  1. Before – We need to decide what to talk about? Is it content (what just happened), pattern (what’s happening over time) or relationship (how it is impacting our relationship)? Once we figure out what the real issue is, we need to decide whether or not to speak up. We need to make sure our emotions will allow us to have a productive conversation.
  2. During – During a conversation we clarify what the problem is by describing the gap between what we expected and what actually happened. Then we encourage the other person to share their view on both what happened and why that happened. Understanding this is the key to closing the gap. Then we next explore whether the problem is due to motivation (discouraged) or ability (unable) or both. 
  3. After – Now we move to action. We agree on who will do what and by when; and how we will follow up after the confrontation.

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