Crucial Conversations By Kerry Patterson

Crucial conversations arise everyday and could have a huge impact on the quality of your life. They can be any conversation that are tough, delicate or sensitive to talk about. They can happen in business or day to day life; particularly in situations where stakes are high, opinions vary and emotions run strong.


This book demonstrates the importance of dialogue, to clarify what you really want to have happen and focusing on what is actually happening. Crucial conversations provides tactics and ideas to handle the tense discussions. Ironically, the more crucial conversation, the less likely we are to handle it well. 


The key points are learn how to keep your cool when emotions run strong, ask yourself what you want and don’t want out of a conversation, make it safe to discuss issues without being abrasive. Ultimately, the key points should be practiced to build your ability to discuss difficult topics. Remember, to know and not to do is really not to know.




  • “Communication works for those who work at it.” -John Powell
  • “Work on me first.” People who are best at dialogue understand this simple fact and turn it into principle. They realize that not only are they likely to benefit by improving their own approach, but also that they are the only person they can work on anyway.
  • Ironically, it’s the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills. 
  • Skilled people start with heart. That is, they begin high-risk discussions with the right motives, and they stay focused no matter what happens.
  • Our motives usually change without any conscious thought on our part. When adrenaline does our thinking for us, our motives flow with the chemical tide. 
  • First, clarify what you really want. Second, clarify what you really don’t want.
  • Asking questions about what we really want serves two important purposes. First, it reminds us of our goal. Second, it juices up our brain in a way that helps us keep focused. 


  • To succeed in crucial conversations, we must really care about the interest of others – not just our own.
  • Remember: The more you care about an issue, the less likely you are to be on your best behavior.
  • Mutual respect is the continuance condition of dialogue. As people perceive that others don’t respect them, the conversation immediately becomes unsafe and dialogue comes to a screeching halt. 
  • When others move to silence or violence, step out of the conversation and make it safe. Once safety is restored, go back to the issue at hand and continue the dialogue.
  • With most complicated problems, don’t aim for perfection. Aim for progress.
  • To avoid overreacting to others’ stories, stay curious. Give your brain a problem to stay focused on. Ask: “Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person say this?”
  • Emotions don’t settle upon you like a fog. They are not foisted upon you by others. No matter how uncomfortable it might make you feel saying it – others don’t make you mad. You make you mad. You and only you create your emotions.
  • You can act on them or be acted on by them. That is, when it comes to strong emotions, you either find a way to master them or for hostage to them. (More on this HERE)
  • Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.
  • “To improve is to change; to perfect is to change often.” -Winston Churchill
  • “Nothing in this world is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.“ -William Shakespeare


  • Facts lay the groundwork for all delicate conversation. Facts are the least controversial and the most persuasive. 
  • Facts form the foundation of belief. So if you want to persuade others, don’t start with your stories. Start with your observations. 
  • “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears— by listening to them.” -Dean Rusk
  • Document your work. One dull pencil is worth six sharp minds. Don’t leave your hard work to memory. If you go onto the effort to complete a crucial conversation, don’t fritter away all the meaning you created by trusting your memories. Write down the details of conclusions, decisions and assignments. 

You can check out Crucial Conversations on


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