When the stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions differ, we all struggle to stay cool. But more often than not, we clam up for fear that speaking up will make things worse; or, we blow up because we haven’t a clue how to express ourselves honestly and respectfully.
But there’s a better way. The skills taught in our bestselling book and training course, Crucial Conversations, can teach you how to have effective dialogue in even the most crucial of circumstances.
Take the first step to improving your crucial conversations skills by learning your Style Under Stress™. This 33-question quiz reveals your natural tendencies to move toward silence (masking, avoiding, or withdrawing) or violence (controlling, labeling, or attacking).
• Identify a Relationship. Before you begin, think about the relationship you want to explore with your boss, coworker, direct report, friend, or family member.
• Identify a Circumstance. Next, think of a tough circumstance—one where you either stay silent or perhaps lash out with anger, a raised voice, sarcasm, etc…
• Apply. With that relationship and circumstance in mind, respond to the following statements.
Your silence and violence scores give you a measure of how frequently you fall into these less-than-perfect strategies. It’s actually possible to score high in both. A high score (one or two checked boxes per domain) means you use this technique fairly often. It also means you’re human. Most people toggle between holding back and becoming too forceful.
Result 2: Your conversation skills
Start with Heart
How to stay focused on what you really want.
Learn to Look
How to notice when safety is at risk.
Make It Safe
How to make it safe to talk about almost anything.
Master My Stories
How to stay in dialogue when you’re angry, scared, or hurt.
STATE My Path
How to speak persuasively, not abrasively.
Explore Others’ Paths
How to listen when other blow up or clam up.
Move to Action
How to turn Crucial Conversations into action and results.
Now look at your score in using the crucial conversations skills. Each of the seven crucial conversations principles has three responses so you can score between 0 to 3 in each category. The higher the score, the better. To analyse your score in this area, notice the skills in which you’ve scored highest—congratulations. Continue those behaviors. Then notice your lowest scores—these are the areas you need to improve. Our 2-day course will teach you how to apply these important skills for your most challenging conversations, and how to move to action and results.
Since these scores represent how you typically behave during stressful or crucial conversations, they can change. Your score doesn’t represent an inalterable character trait or a genetic propensity. It’s merely a measure of your behaviour—and you can change that. In fact, people who take the concept of Crucial Conversations seriously will practice the skills contained in each lesson and eventually they will change. And when they do, so will their lives. What’s next?
Now that you’ve identified your own Style Under Stress, you have a tool that can help you Learn to Look. That is, as you enter a touchy conversation, you can make a special effort to avoid some of your silence or violence habits. Also, when you’re in the middle of a crucial conversations, you can be more conscious of what to watch for.
The best ways to improve your skills
Consider the following resources to help you improve your Style Under Stress.
From the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.
Read the book. It’s included in the training, or send us an email for ordering.
FREE Newsletter. One of our best learning resources is our free, weekly e-newsletter. Subscribers of the Crucial Skills Newsletter receive expert instruction from our bestselling authors on handling real-life crucial conversations. Subscribe here.
Attend Training. Crucial Conversations is an award-winning, two-day course that teaches skills for fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics. Find your public workshop.
Become a Certified Trainer. We have a worldwide community of more than 7,500 certified client trainers. These dedicated facilitators deliver our content within their organizations across the globe. It’s easy to get certified. Inquire about how to become a VitalSmarts trainer today.
Talk to an expert. Please contact us at +31 (0)85 020 11 55 to see how we can help you, your team, or your organization to improve results with the Crucial Conversations skills. Or contact us here.