Saturday, July 3, 2010

Crucial Conversations...

The book of the week was Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. A very good book! There are all types of great tips and tricks to make communication happen and happen successfully.

It's not just a coincidence that the individuals that get the promotions are the individuals that are unanimously chosen by their peers and colleagues as fantastic communicators. If you can communicate effectively then you are able to get things done right while utilizing the least amount of time possible. And in any organization, time equals money. In addition to being able to get things done quickly, great communicators are also able to harness the creativity of everyone on their team. They bring the group together by keeping the focus on the goal and constantly have focus on the big picture outlook of the conversations to prod ideas.

This book was really interesting. There is a lot of information packed into its pages too.. However, I would like to focus on one area specifically- what makes conversations "difficult." This book had an interesting causation outlined at the beginning of the book and made many points to come back to it. The cause to conversations becoming difficult is that in those difficult conversations we are not able to use reason or logic. Bare with me.. When conversations get tense or if a person is passionate about an idea or if someone is nervous about the outcome of bringing up an idea our physiology changes. It all reverts back to the times of our ancestors, if they felt challenged they had two choices... run or fight. We still have the same base "caveman like" brain functions in certain events. When we get tense in a conversation the blood flows from the logic and reason portion of our brain to the fight or run side of our brain. Additionally, the little glands above the kidneys start pumping adrenalin into the blood stream, so our muscles tense up, our heart starts beating fast and you'll even notice some people have noticeable redness in their necks and faces. It is a very difficult thing to think with reason and logic when our body and brain can only focus on slugging someone to ground.

We have an incredible obstacle to overcome. But!... Now that you know what it is you can look upon yourself from the outside and notice these changes and focus on what is really happening. The most effective way of coming out of this aggression mode is to verbalize the goals of the conversation. Verbalizing things will change your physiology as well. When you tell yourself- "My goal is to ask my boss for a raise, and have a conversation about what I have to do and on what timeline I will be working on to reach my goal"- Your brain say "hold on, hold on... we aren't running or fighting, we are just trying to have a conversation about getting a raise. Call off the big guns" You'll still be nervous, sure, but you will be able to think more clearly and articulate yourself much better.

When it comes down to it, the best way to handle difficult conversations is to focus on whole picture as unbiased as possible. Who am I in this scenario?, Who is the other person?, What is the goal of this conversation?, Is it reasonable for us to talk about this?.... Ask yourself big questions and be honest with yourself and the other person. The more comfortable you are having crucial conversations, the more valuable you will be to your organization and the more successful you'll be in life.

This book is about a very important subject. Whether you read this book or use some other form of media to learn about communicating effectively, just make sure you do it. As always, if you have any questions on the book don't hesitate to ask. I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.

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