Review: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzer

I’ve heard my best friend sing the praises of this book for some time now. I guess I thought it was more of a business leadership book (it is that also). But now that I’ve read it I think it’s a “must have” book for both therapists and clients. This is literally the best book on communication that I’ve ever read. They give lots of relationship examples in addition to business examples. We communicate. with everyone we come in contact with – so yes, this works if you are in business, but it also works if you’re a stay at home mom trying to communicate with your kids or partner – and everyone in between.

Basically, a conversation becomes crucial whenever you are having a difference of opinion with someone that is causing emotions to run high. Sounds familiar right? We all have those! They start with asking you to work on yourself. Do you know what you want and what you don’t want? The want is usually easy – I go into a conversation knowing what I want. But what about what I don’t want? I want to achieve my outcome, but I don’t wan’t to have a fight, become estranged or end up hating each other. We so often forget that we need to find a way to talk about what we want without endangering the relationship.

The authors talk about how to recognize when safety has been lost in a conversation, because people will stop talking or start fighting when they don’t feel safe. They teach you how to restore the safety of the conversation so that you can get back to the topic at hand. They talk about the stories we tell ourselves in these situations and the assumptions that we make that can take a conversation off track. And they teach you how to be persuasive without being abrasive.

They then move to the other person and teach how to continue a productive conversation when the other person isn’t managing it well, either retreating into silence or blowing up. They talk about how to make sure that what is decided in the conversation actually turns into results and action. And finally, they give a whole bunch of examples of situations you might run into that would be challenging.

I honestly think every single one of my couples should read this book before we even start therapy, because it would just give us a solid foundation to start with. I can’t think of a single person who would not benefit from this book. Buy it, read it, and go forth to have better conversations!

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