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Life-Changing Crucial Conversations

HOW to NAVIGATE HIGH-STAKES


SITUATIONS
Reverse your thinking. Those who are best
at crucial conversations think first about the
risks of not speaking up.
Change your emotions. Separate people
from the problem. Try to see others as
reasonable, rational, and decent human
beingseven if they hold a view you
strongly oppose.
Help others feel safe. Start your next
crucial conversation by assuring others of
your positive intentions and your respect for
them. Theyll let their guard down and begin
to listen to even unpleasant topics.
Invite dialogue. After you create a safe
environment, confidently share your views
and invite the other person to do so as well.
If you are open to others points of view,
theyll be more open to yours.

V I TA L S M A R T S R E S E A R C H

the person people most struggle to


hold difficult and life-changing conversations with is
their boss. Spouses and coworkers are the second and third most difficult audiences
According to our research,

when discussing high-stakes issues.


The study of 525 respondents
identified a single conversation that
had life-altering consequences, and
more than half said the effects of
this one conversation lasted forever.
Respondents reported results like
ending a business partnership, losing
a job, and being disowned by a family
member. Nearly two-thirds say the
conversation permanently damaged a
relationship, and one in seven say it
harmed a career.
The top three reasons for failure in
holding crucial conversations are:

KEY RESULTS

#1

The
person people most struggle to
hold difficult conversations with is their boss

More than

say the effects of a life-altering conversation


theyve had will last forever

2 in 3

Nearly
say a
conversation gone wrong has permanently
damaged a relationship

1. Inability to control emotions


2. Not gaining the other persons trust

ABOUT THE RESEARCH. The study


collected responses via an online survey of
525 individuals in July 2011. Margin of error is
approximately 4%.

3. Getting defensive, vengeful, or fearful


Alternatively, many respondents reported they handled similarly terrifying conversations
in ways that worked surprisingly wellreporting outcomes like keeping a plane from an
emergency landing, working with an impossible boss, and receiving vital medical treatment.
According to the study, those who succeed in holding effective crucial conversations:

LEARN NEW SKILLS. To learn how Crucial

1. Express respect and care for the other person

Conversations Training can help you navigate


high-stakes situations, visit www.vitalsmarts.com
or call 1.800.449.5989.

2. Focus on long-terms goals for the conversation and relationship


3. Discuss the heart of the issue instead of ancillary concerns
In crucial moments, when most of us either clam up or blow up, the most influential people are
significantly more skilled at reaching agreement, solving problems, and preserving valuable
relationships by the way they communicate.
About VitalSmartsAn innovator in corporate training and leadership development, VitalSmarts
combines three decades of original research with 50 years of the best social science to help leaders
and organizations change human behavior and achieve new levels of performance. VitalSmarts has
identified four high-leverage skill sets that, when used in combination, create healthy corporate
cultures. These skills are taught in the Companys award-winning training programs and New York
Times bestselling books of the same titles: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Accountability, Influencer,
and Change Anything. VitalSmarts has consulted with more than 300 of the Fortune 500 companies and
trained more than one million people worldwide. www.vitalsmarts.com