Crucial Conversations is the most important book on relationships you will ever read. This remarkably readable book is filled with practical skills for engaging people in the largely misunderstood and vastly underestimated topic of high stakes dialogue.

Few of us ever learned the appropriate skills for handling conflict with our spouses, friends, lovers and business partners. Often this is because our best examples during our formative years - our parents - were so bad at dialogue themselves.


In my past I made many of the mistakes outlined by the authors, but with continued introspection and an improving skill set, I am learning to communicate better, especially under pressure.

The best part about dialogue skills is that they have strong network effects: the more people have them, the better for everyone!

According to the authors, most people tend toward three behaviours during heated discussion:

  1. silent fuming, or silence
  2. threats and name-calling, or violence
  3. speaking openly, honestly and effectively.

Silence is characterised by:

  • masking, selectively showing what you actually think, often through sarcasm, sugarcoating and couching as resentment builds over time,
  • avoiding by changing the subject or shifting focus to others, and
  • withdrawing, usually by leaving the room or the conversation.

Violence is characterised by:

  • controlling to coerce others to your way of thinking by cutting others off, overstating your facts, speaking in absolutes and dominating the conversation.
  • labelling, by stereotyping, categorising or name-calling,
  • attacking, by belittling or threatening the other person.

The book further contains actionable techniques for resolving conflicts correctly and keeping dialogue flowing while avoiding the above-mentioned bad behaviours.

You should assess your own Style Under Stress, by taking this revealing online questionnaire (it only takes a few minutes and you will learn something about yourself).

The end result is truly remarkable, but don't take my word for it, read this glowing Amazon review.

I want to be better at communicating, and I want those around me to be too. Won't we all be happier if we can express ourselves in an open, honest and effective way?

Over time I will add the lessons I have learned by applying the wisdom in this wisdom-filled gem. Now, go out and read Crucial Conversations[^1]!.

[^1]: Please get in touch if you benefited from this book!