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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High Excerpt from Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

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Foreword by Stephen R. Covey

This is a breakthrough book. That is exactly how I saw it when I first read the manuscript. I so resonated with the importance, power, and timeliness of its message that I even suggested to the authors that they title it "Breakthrough Conversations." But as I read deeper, listened to the tapes, and experienced the insight borne of years of experience with this material, I came to understand why it is titled Crucial Conversations.

From my own work with organizations, including families, and from my own experience, I have come to see that there are a few defining moments in our lives and careers that make all the difference. Many of these defining moments come from "crucial" or "breakthrough" conversations with important people in emotionally charged situations where the decisions made take us down one of several roads, each of which leads to an entirely different destination.

I can see the wisdom in the assertion of the great historian Arnold Toynbee, who said that you can pretty well summarize all of history -- not only of society, but of institutions and of people -- in four words: Nothing fails like success. In other words, when a challenge in life is met by a response that is equal to it, you have success. But when the challenge moves to a higher level, the old, once successful response no longer works -- it fails; thus, nothing fails like success.

The challenge has noticeably changed for our lives, our families, and our organizations. Just as the world is changing at frightening speed and has become increasingly and profoundly interdependent with marvelous and dangerous technologies, so, too, have the stresses and pressures we all experience exponentially increased. This charged atmosphere makes it all the more imperative that we nourish our relationships and develop tools, skills, and enhanced capacity to find new and better solutions to our problems.

These newer, better solutions will not represent "my way" or "your way" -- they will represent "our way." In short, the solutions must be synergistic, meaning that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Such synergy may manifest itself in a better decision, a better relationship, a better decision-making process, increased commitment to implement decisions made, or a combination of two or more of these. 

The above is an excerpt from the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2002 Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler , authors of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High