Crucial Conversations

Recently, I read the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High.  I wish I would have read this book a long time ago.  It can be used not only professionally but in your personal life as well.  It discusses and models how to have crucial conversations with people in many different situations.  While reading this book, I knew that this will come in handy when preparing my innovation plan for blended learning.  I will need to have many crucial conversations with different staff members to ensure the success of blended learning at Nash Elementary.  When having a crucial conversation, there are eight steps to consider.  Eight seems like a lot, and I know I will need to practice to be able to really hold crucial conversations.

First I will need to get unstuck and get everyone’s feedback to create a pool of dialogue.  Everyone will need to share to the pool of meaning that way we can all discuss and share our ideas.  This will need to take place during the planning stage of the implementation plan.  Everyone needs to feel like they have been heard for this to go forward.

Second, I will focus on starting with heart.  This stage I will focus mostly on what I want so that the conversation will be effective.  This to me is one of the major stages.  If I don’t focus on what I want to take place during the conversation, then many things could go wrong.

Third, I will need to look for signs that the conversation is turning crucial.  Are participants turning to silence or violence?  I tend to go silent in conversations that make me uncomfortable or when I feel like someone is being abrasive.  If I notice this is taking place, I will go into stage four which is making it safe.

Fourth, if I notice the conversation is turning crucial then I need to make everyone feel safe.  If people do not feel safe, then the conversation might as well end.  If others feel like the may be persecuted for their thoughts then the sharing ends.

Fifth, I will need to master stories.  This one I struggle with daily.  Have you ever been having a discussion and someone maybe rolls their eyes or acts like they are ignoring you?  I have, and instantly my mind makes up this big elaborate story about why the person did what they did.  This can cause the conversation to shut down as well.  During this stage, I will need to make sure I have looked at the facts and not listen to my own story.

Sixth, I will need to state my path.  To do this I will need to make sure I do this in a respective way.  I will share the facts and tell my story.  After completing this stage I will move into the seventh stage of exploring other’s paths.

Seventh, I will explore other peoples paths.  In this stage, I will ask others to share their facts and stories.

Finally, I will move into action for the last stage.  In this stage, we decide.  The book suggests four different ways to decide: command, consult, vote, and consensus.  Each would depend on the situation at hand.  After deciding then we will decide who does what by when.

I feel like crucial conversations will be extremely helpful when sitting down with my team that will help move blended learning forward at Nash Elementary.

Patterson, Kerry. (Eds.) (2012) Crucial conversations :tools for talking when stakes are high New York : McGraw-Hill.

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