Summary of Crucial Conversations

Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

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Crucial Conversations book summary
The more you just don’t want to talk about it, the more you need to know how to speak up skillfully.


9 Overall

10 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” These wise words were never truer than in today’s business world. Many people recoil from “crucial conversations,” where they have to negotiate to get ahead. But as the saying goes, “In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” Kerry Patterson and his team of fellow co-writers and leadership consultants describe various techniques for effective negotiation and conflict resolution in the context of important, potentially life changing conversations. Examples include talking yourself into a promotion, bringing up important information at meetings and working out problems with your spouse. Some tips will sound familiar, such as knowing what you really want and being open to alternatives. However, the book also highlights some themes that are often forgotten in negotiations, such as making it safe for others to express their true feelings and desires. The authors explain how to avoid getting forced into false “either/or choices” and tell you how to remain alert for unstated alternatives or possibilities. This lively book includes many examples drawn from business and personal relationships. getAbstract recommends it in particular to those who are new to negotiations and conflict resolution, though it teaches solid skills that any manager – or any spouse, for that matter – could benefit from mastering.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to identify a crucial conversation
  • How to guide the conversation to a desired outcome


Recognizing a “Crucial Conversation”
Crucial conversations are those everyday interactions that significantly affect your life. They differ from ordinary dialogues because the opinions of the participants vary, their emotions are high and the stakes are significant. The way in which you...
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About the Authors

Kerry Patterson, a consultant on culture-change projects, developed video-based training programs. Joseph Grenny is an executive coach. Ron McMillan, co-founder of the Covey Leadership Center, is a leadership consultant. Al Switzler teaches at the University of Michigan. The authors founded VitalSmarts in 1990 and wrote The Balancing Act: Mastering the Competing Demands of Leadership.

Comment on this summary

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    Mark Ellebie 6 months ago
    I like how it goes into shared meaning, shared ownership and making comfortable environment for all.  These are core tenants of Agile retrospectives and good stuff.  
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    Joe McGinlay 8 months ago
    Useful. Can't help draw comparisons to Covey's "Seven Habits". I have this books but have never read it. Not sure how I feel about reading it now that I've listened to the abstract
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    Alan Sturgeon 1 year ago
    Really helped with forming backbone of future difficult conversations
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    Lauren Caldwell 1 year ago
    Listen to the full audiobook. Worth it.
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    Sian Murphy 2 years ago
    Really great content, so good I have recommended it in our Managers toolkit!
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    Michael Beach 3 years ago
    Outstanding book, one that I wish I had been able to read about 500 Crucial Conversations ago. Better late than never!
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    amy Cooper 3 years ago
    great title
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    Gwendolyn Kelly 4 years ago
    This book and the others in the series were game changers for me. I'm excited to have the abstracts on my Kindle to keep me on track.

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