Most people are aware of the importance of handling critical conversations well. However, when it comes down to actually being in a difficult situation that calls for key communication skills, many do not know how to practically apply their own thoughts.
Critical Conversations For Dummies is a step-by-step reference for the variety of crucial conversations life presents in the workforce. It's packed with strategies for preparing for high-stakes situations; being persuasive (not abrasive); knowing the value of assertive communication; resolving failed promises and missed deadlines; maintaining morale when firing staff; getting new employees off on the right foot; managing staff relations and strengthening team relationships; understanding audience needs and motivations to get positive results; altering confrontational language to cooperative language during difficult conversations; and building relationships in the face of conflict.
- Improve communication skills in crucial conversations
- Avoid common pitfalls and emotional tendencies
- Discover the benefits of success in crucial conversations
This book is especially relevant to the hundreds of thousands of leaders who are tasked with multiple duties, whether addressing complex problems from stakeholders or achieving exceptional results from staff.
About the Author
Christina Tangora Schlachter, PhD, is a Certified Professional Coach. She has created and taught courses on communication skills, crucial conversations for new managers, communication for professionals, and dealing with difficult conversations. She is the coauthor of Leading Business Change For Dummies and is the Chief Leader of She Leads.
Table of ContentsIntroduction 1
Part I: The Anatomy of a Critical Conversation 7
Chapter 1: Let’s Get Critical! Making Conversations Count9
Chapter 2: The Ins and Outs of a CriticalConversation 23
Chapter 3: Critical Conversations: Key Elements to Get YouStarted 43
Chapter 4: Delivering the Message with Impact 57
Chapter 5: Knowing When It’s Time to Have a CriticalConversation 69
Part II: Making Sense of How You Communicate 83
Chapter 6: Building Effective Verbal CommunicationTechniques 85
Chapter 7: Grasping Nonverbal Cues 99
Chapter 8: Working with Different CommunicationStyles 113
Part III: Getting Down to Specifics: Creating a CriticalConversation 127
Chapter 9: Here’s the Warm-Up: Getting YourselfReady 129
Chapter 10: Keeping Challenging SituationsProductive 143
Chapter 11: Closing the Conversation with Ease 159
Part IV: Putting It All into Practice 169
Chapter 12: Conversations in Good Times 171
Chapter 13: Conversations in Bad Times 185
Chapter 14: Dealing with Staff Disputes 199
Chapter 15: Identifying and Working through Workplace Complaints215
Chapter 16: Resolving Difficult Behaviors with CriticalConversations 231
Chapter 17: Customer Conversations 249
Chapter 18: Hot Topics in Team Conversations 263
Part V: The Part of Tens 273
Chapter 19: Ten Benefits of Leading a CriticalConversation 275
Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Keep Your Cool No One ElseIs 283
Chapter 21: Ten Ways to Manage a Conversation That’s GoingSouth 291
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Christina Schlachter, Ph.D., has written a condensed encyclopedia on the art of conducting “Critical Conversations.” This is a book that you need to purchase and keep within an easy reach, as there isn’t a week that goes by when a need surfaces to conduct an important conversation or discussion with someone. That someone can be spouse, child, sibling, parent, co-worker, subordinate, neighbor, or possibly your boss (assuming he/she isn’t included in the list above!) What Dr. Schlachter’s book provides as well, is a tremendous reference for you to prepare when another has requested time to discuss something that is “very important” to him or her. True to form “for Dummies” publications, clear descriptions provide an overview of each chapter so that you are able to quickly locate the Critical Conversation topic for which you are planning to hold. Organizing the book into five overall sections, Dr. Schlachter has created an easy flow from one section to the other, akin to building blocks, building content from each section on to the next. Icons, symbols, and cartoons placed throughout the book, along with helpful lists and tables, draw the reader into the narrative, and one begins to see the ease in which these conversations may occur. One of my favorite chapters in the book is Chapter 16, “Resolving Difficult Behaviors with Critical Conversations.” These ~ 20 pages will provide the least skilled, conflict-averse person with ways in which to plan and confront a long-postponed difficult conversation with another. What the author does so well throughout this chapter, as well as the entire book, is build that “conversations toolbox” with techniques which will become honed and developed over time with practice. Lastly, if one were to read only one section of this book, a MUST read are chapters 19, “Ten Benefits of Leading a Critical Conversation,” chapter 20, “Ten Ways to Keep Your Cool When No One Else Is,” and chapter 21, “Ten Ways to Manage a Conversation That’s Going South.” These “tools” will help you to always be prepared and to avoid the post-conversation dilemma of, “why didn’t I say [something] when we were having that conversation??” Buy the book. You will not be sorry.
This book is a great step-by-step guide that offers many samples, tips, pitfalls and warnings about having critical conversations. For the lay person without a PhD, Dr. Schlachter breaks down the elements of these communications by explaining what it is, when to have one, how to keep it focused, and checking to see the impact of having one. My favorite part is how to get yourself ready for these difficult communications- creating clear questions, describing what desired behaviors you want from others, and how to control your hot buttons during the conversation. As a national project director, this is a valuable reminder of what I need to do when I have difficult conversations with staff, in work disputes and in performance management issues.
I have gotten hooked on the For Dummies brand, and own about 5 of them. Critical Conversations for Dummies is a shorter book (a big plus, since I don't have time to read every chapter right away), with the most comprehensive list of examples I have seen in almost any conversation book. The book integrates a few different communication models in a very straightforward way. Explore what is happening, decide on next step, and then my favorite - gain agreement and get moving. I have used a few of the examples in conversations this week and the conversation delivered exactly what I wanted. I love this book, love this format, and am buying a few for my peers in the office!