Crucial Conversations and Their Implications
They say you should always do things in threes, right? Well I just finished the third of what I would consider “business books”, Crucial Conversations. I think it was a great way to bring together my thinking as of late so let’s first start by reviewing my month. I won’t rehash everything so please check out the other blog posts referenced if you need more context.
October started with me asking myself the question “Don’t our students deserve to reap the benefits of Think(ing) Different(ly)?!” I think it is vital to reflect on the why in everything we do. One of my least favorite expressions is “That’s the way we have always done it.” Not because I don’t like tradition or established methods but because I don’t like doing something without understanding why we do it. I narrowed down my personal thinking to something that has been rattling around in my head for a while now….
I believe we as educators need to create high school graduates who can ask great questions not simply give compliant answers.
So how do we accomplish this goal. Well we need to get those around us on board. The first two books I read this month began to help me put this together. In my first review of Influencer by Joseph Grenny, I started to think about the vital behaviors that will lead to success in our entrepreneurial track. I started to realize that of the six sources of influence we needed to focus on the ability side. Yes all six sources are important but if we don’t influence people with the entrepreneurial ability we will not serve our students the way we need. This initiative focuses on actual experiential learning not simply our traditional teaching methods. As a group we have started identifying possible entrepreneurs or as Grenny might refer to them, positive deviants. We need to get them on board with our vision and allow them to help us shape the program.
However, just influencing people to get on board won’t result in a successful program. We also need to think about how we will execute this plan. The next book I reviewed spoke directly towards this task. In 4DX the authors talk about the importance of identifying a WIG, lead measures and then utilizing a scoreboard and accountability meetings to bring this to fruition. I can see the strategies laid out in this book becoming more and more important and we move towards student run businesses. I can’t wait to experiment with these ideas as we plan our class but more importantly discover the best ways to share these concepts with our students.
This brings me to the lessons I have gleaned from Crucial Conversations. One of the biggest things that hit me from reading the book was actually in the afterward. One of the authors said he often had people come up to him and thank him for the book. Then when he pressed them they really couldn’t bring specific examples from the book up because they hadn’t truly read the whole thing. The concept that just knowing that some conversations are crucial makes you think instead of impulsively responding emotionally.
However the book goes so much further once you understand some of the principles. There are so many great things in the book that you should really pick it up. Here is a quick video that hits many of the highlights.
Some of the biggest take-aways for me echoed the thoughts this month has brought up. Patterson says you must Start with Heart. This brought me back to what we learned from Simon Sinek’s Why. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy WHY you do it” is his recurring theme. This is seen in starting with the heart. You have to be fully bought into why you are doing something. Then when a conversation gets critical you have to remember what you really want isn’t to simply win the argument but to arrive at what is best for your goals. The next most important thing he talks about is making it safe. How do we diffuse an argument so that we can arrive at a mutual purpose or mutual respect? The book gives great strategies on how to “step out” when others move to silence or violence.
My favorite strategy that I have already used is to “contrast to fix misunderstandings.” You start with what you don’t intend or mean and then follow up with what you do. The book makes a point to not apologize or lessen the value of your own argument which I often catch myself doing in tense moments. I really like how you can say something like, “I don’t want you to think you are being pressured into a decision yet I do want us to realize that the longer we wait the fewer options we have and therefore we need to find a way for us to both be comfortable in making this decision in a timely manner.” That simple sentence goes towards safety and establishes a mutual purpose without getting combative.
Another of the strategies I was drawn to is easy to remember as ABC. Often times when a conversation gets crucial you can find parts that you do agree (A) on. You then need to add to what the other person may be leaving out or build (B) on their ideas. Finally if you do differ significantly don’t just tell someone they are wrong. Instead compare (C) your two views. By sticking with the facts you can arrive at something beneficial for all parties.
There are many other strategies such as STATE your path, mastering your stories and AMPPing up your conversation but I will leave those for you to read. Overall I loved this book and can really see the value in teaching this to high school students while they are in the formative stages of creating their personalities and goals.
This last month has really allowed me to see how we can apply the principles in these business books not only to making our initiative successful but also as learning opportunities for our students. They have also helped me to think about the type of leader I want to become as I model life-long learning.
I am thinking I will leave business books for a while and delve into some educational theory next. Stay tuned as I’m sure you are on the edge of your seat :).
Grenny, Joseph, Kerry Patterson, David Maxwell, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2013. Print.
McChesney, Chris, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals. New York:Free Press, 2012 Print.
Patterson, K. (2002). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Sinek, S. (Director). (2009, September). TEDTalks: Simon Sinek–How Great Leaders Inspire Action [Video file]. In TED. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en
Video Review for Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson [Video file]. (2015, August 20). In YouTube. Retrieved November 4, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFaXx3pgaxM&feature=youtu.be