Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler is a book based on the notion that the success in our lives relies on the relationships that we have with others. The book serves as a guide to provide techniques on conversing with others positively when surrounded by charged emotions. Crucial conversations are defined as the interactions which happen to everyone, the day-to-day interactions that end up playing an impact on individual’s lives. Ultimately, the authors note that a crucial conversation has three traits: opposing opinions, strong emotions and high stakes.
Let’s take a look at some of the key processes that will lead to greater success holding conversations in both the clinic and outside of it.
1) Start with the Heart
When beginning a conversation, the art of how you bring a topic up is often just as important as the issue that you are discussing. It is essential to be in the right frame of mind when engaging in a conversation, which involves managing our emotions and our mindset. If you end up beginning a conversation from a place of anger and resentment, then you have already doomed the conversation from the start. As difficult as it may be sometimes, we have to begin conversations with positive intent and have good-will for the other individuals in our conversation. Entering a conversation with an open mind is important, since our past history shapes each and every conversation, we are able to derive meaning from conversations. For example, if you disagree with a colleague in the clinic, be cognizant of how you approach the issue and enter the conversation with mutual respect. However, ensure that you are genuine in your approach as well, because others will be able to easily tell if you are entering the conversation with a fake pretense.
2) Make the Conversation Safe
A safe conversation is one where the other party feels safe to open up to engage in discussion, rather than feeling emotionally volatile and fighting back. Individuals may also close down by masking (pretending to listen), avoiding (a distraction technique) or withdrawing from the conversation entirely. Listening is one way to demonstrate that you are open and respectful to the conversation. As a physio, a few key ways you can allow for a safe conversation when speaking with your clients is to ask, mirror, paraphrase and prime. Asking is an important way to get the conversation flowing to establish rapport. Mirroring is a method to confirm feelings and depends on our tone of voice. For example, if a patient is giving their subjective history and appears disgruntled, by acknowledging “I sense you’re angry…” you validate their feelings. Paraphrasing is another way to confirm a story, but the key is to stay out of your emotions. For example, based on your patient’s primary complaint, you can say “Let’s see if I have this right…” and paraphrase what they said. Priming is a tool used when the conversation isn’t getting anywhere, you can lead with a phrase such as “Do you think I’m being unfair?” Using these techniques creates a safe space for conversation with you and others and demonstrates that you are a powerful listener.
These were a couple of the takeaways from Crucial Conversations, we at PT Business Corner found the book full of useful tips and would like to thank Tanja Yardley for her recommendation!