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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  15,556 ratings  ·  1,021 reviews
When stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong, you have three choices: avoid a crucial conversation and suffer the consequences; handle the conversation badly and suffer the consequences; and discover how to communicate best when it matters most. This guide gives you the tools you need to step up to life's difficult conversations.
Paperback, 235 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by McGraw-Hill Contemporary (first published September 16th 2001)
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Jorge Villalta Si!! ya casi lo termino y tiene buenos tips. Tambien tiene mucha informacion muy compacta, entonces probablemente tenga volver de nuevo en un tiempo.…moreSi!! ya casi lo termino y tiene buenos tips. Tambien tiene mucha informacion muy compacta, entonces probablemente tenga volver de nuevo en un tiempo. Pero si se lo recomiendo!(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Carol.
Jul 02, 2014 Carol. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially Goodreads Staff
Recommended to Carol. by: surprisingly, a committee.
Dear Goodreads:

A 'crucial conversation' is one that
1) opinions vary
2) stakes are high
3) parties involved have strong emotions.

Sound familiar? What we have at Goodreads is a Crucial Conversation.

Ways you don't succeed in a crucial conversation:

1) Allowing your emotion to dictate your dialogue. Specifically, an emotional need to "win" or be "right."
2) Believe the answer is the "fool's choice" of a yes/no, right/left solution.

Ringing any bells? I can't state what the emotions of GR staff are right
...more
Nancy G
Aug 15, 2007 Nancy G rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
I teach this course and have found the skills and insights that people experience can be life-changing. This book will help you in your personal and professional relationships. Crucial Conversations is not about being confrontational, avoiding conflict, or getting your way. Its about how to help yourself and others stay in dialogue so you can get the results you want. Its about learning, finding the truth, and strengthening relationships.
Angela
Probably the most influential book I've read in the past five years. The concepts have probably been around for a long time, but this was my first exposure to them. I'm still learning how to do the things mentioned here, but it really has helped me shift the way I think about others. The authors have a web site with a lot of great stuff in it, and their monthly-ish newsletter is one I actually read!

NOTE: I haven't actually re-read it since I first got it, so this is a review of impact and conten
...more
Matt
It seems like every business book nowadays has a foreword by Stephen R. Covey. It’s almost like – if he didn’t endorse it - it’s not worth reading.

This book is not an easy read like Leadership and Self-Deception, Who Moved My Cheese, or The Myth of Multitasking. It is however worth reading because it has many gems and pearls of wisdom along the way.

A few of them I already knew:
Remember, to know and not do is really not to know. – p. xvi
“He that complies against his will is of his own opinion s
...more
Meghan
This book has valuable information, but the reader has to dig for it. I'm not impressed with the editing job; I think the editor could have helped bring more clarity to the discussion. They come up with a lot of jargon that you have to remember throughout the book ("Start with Heart," "Clever Stories," etc) and keeping track of their key words and phrases makes the learning process more difficult.

That said, I believe there are useful tools in the book (some exercises are similar to Cognitive-Beh
...more
Nancy
Ok, I read this because the boss suggested it. He suggested it because I don't deal well with overly emotional, crying, touchy feely people. I'm more of a "get the hell over it" kind of girl.

The book is a jumbled up mess in the writing. It bounces from one example to the next, explains half a concept, jumps to another example, explains another part of a concept, and the might (or might not) get back to the original example. My guess is because it seems to have no less than 75 authors. Too many c
...more
Parthiban Sundaram
Two years ago I joined a large firm as a software developer to develop a business application. I was very excited as the opportunities were enormous and the growth potential was literally sky high. But the excitement did not last long. For, within a month of my work there, my manager kept making a series of decisions that were, well, simply unpalatable to me! These decisions frustrated me tremednously and what's
worse - these disagreements seemed to be the norm rather than an exception. I, quietl
...more
Trish
This book has all the ingredients one needs to improve one's interactions when one is stuck in cycles of rage or disagreement. It has remarkably similar prescriptions to other readings I have done on the subject on how to manage in a tense conversation in which one must come to some reasonable agreement. If everyone read a book like this once or twice in their lifetimes we might actually move the evolution ball down the court in a significant way. I wonder if in fact our politicians have had a l ...more
Daniel Silvert
Crucial Conversations tackles one of the most difficult subjects in human relationships: How to navigate difficult conversations when 1) the stakes are high 2)opinions are at opposite ends, and 3) when emotions are charged. This book is so filled with insights and strategies, I had to read it twice and nearly use up two highlighters. At it’s core, the authors recommend asking yourself three critical questions before engaging in a difficult conversation:

What do I want for myself?
What do I want f
...more
Shahine Ardeshir
Very rarely have I come across so sensible, articulate and powerful a book, particularly from the “Business/Self Help” genre.

The premise of this book is simple: Each of us, in all relationships in and outside of work that we conduct, face situations in which there is considerable gravitas attached to the outcome. Often, we behave less than we’re capable of in these circumstances, to unpleasant result. These are critical conversations, and there’s a certain skill to conducting them well.

The timin
...more
Antoinette Perez
I don't know if I can write a purely objective review, as though my brain were wiped clean of everything I know about conversations. The book that caught my eyes and my heart was Fierce Conversations, and both Fierce and Crucial cover the territory of conversations. But they do so quite differently, and which book helps each person more is first probably a matter of taste.

Crucial is written in a very familiar business non-fiction style: two shades more friendly than an academic textbook, but sti
...more
Sheherazahde
I love this book! It changed my life and I recommend it to everyone.

One of the major problems that has plagued me all my life was becoming too emotional when things were important to me. This book has helped me recognize that I was getting upset and helped me deal with my emotions so I could come back to the conversations from a calmer place.

The book is written in simple language with lots of repetition and stories to make it easy to read and understand. The authors also use a lot of acronyms
...more
Sridhar
Aug 23, 2010 Sridhar rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
One of the amazing books I have read in recent times. Unlike many books, this book pinpoints the exact mistakes and reasons people make in high-stress conversations. Considering that many meetings these days are high-stress (time-pressures, market-pressures, customer complaints and so on), this book is a game-changer.

What makes this book wonderful is that tells you to change your Inner Game to be able to practice it. The tools the authors propose are not "fake-smile" type add-ons, but require a
...more
Josh Utterback
Aug 09, 2010 Josh Utterback rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No ONE!!!
Recommended to Josh by: Paula Hamm
Shelves: finished-in-2010
I had to read this for work and it was a total waste of time. The skills presented are all common sense. For all of their concepts they come up with mnemonics to help you remember. However, there are so many of them you can't keep straight which one is for what and what the letters actually mean. Finally, the examples were forced and completely unrealistic. Real people don't talk or act like their examples. The one I loved the most was the wife who thought her husband was cheating on her because ...more
Kendra
Conversing with others is a necessary and enjoyable part of each day for me. Sometimes, however, I will find myself in the middle of a discussion gone wrong. It could be a really important conversation that I have thought about ahead of time and prepared for or it could be a conersation that I walk into and then felt blindsided by the revelations that were made. Crucial Conversations covers both of these situations and focuses on techniques which make dialogue possible, even when the topics bein ...more
Chris
Mar 03, 2011 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
Like most self-help and business books, this book presented ideas in a straightforward approach and with simple examples and explanations to the extent that most of the concepts presented felt very "common sense" and leaving the reader with thoughts like "well, yeah, why didn't I think of that?" The book discusses the topic of Crucial Conversations which are conversations in which there are 3 Elements: (1) High Stakes, (2) Varied Opinions and (3) Strong Emotions. In these situations, the authors ...more
Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kendel Christensen
This book is an *absolute* must-read. Definitely in my top 10 books of all time in self-improvement. Not only does it open up an ENTIRE WORLD of meaning in regards to one of THE MOST PREVALENT of human activities (communication), but it also gives a PRACTICAL structure to said interactions. Where before, "communication" is an inchoate abstraction, this book gives solid structure and pragmatic actions. AND at the end of the book, it meta-analyzes itself as far as the suggestions that most people ...more
Miller Sherling
This was published in 2002. I wish someone had handed it to me then. I would have saved myself a ton of crappy handling of conflicts, & their aftermath, over the intervening years. It's the best synthesis I've read of the principles I've gleaned from the various entertaining self-help books I've read over the years, plus the two 2-day Gottman workshops I've attended. It teaches one how to recognize the inherent emotionality in conflicted communication, honor this emotion, and not beat others ...more
Oleg Melnikov
I've read this book for a second time - and I know that I'll be reading it over and over again.. Until I master the skills described in this book.
From the first page of the book - that gives a definition of a crucial conversation (a discussion between two or more people where: (a) stakes are high, (b) opinions vary, and (c) emotions run strong) - you will realize that we're engaged in those EVERY day.

Most important takes this time:
1. Start from yourself - the ONLY person you can control.
2. To ge
...more
Leo Polovets
A book like this has a high potential for being hokie or trite, so I was skeptical despite the Amazon reviews. To my surprise, the content was solid. The core principle of the book is that important conversations (with spouses, managers, friends, etc.) go wrong because at least one of the people doesn’t feel safe discussing their viewpoint. This might be due to how past conversations went, fear of rejection, fear of getting fired, or a number of other reasons. When someone doesn’t feel safe, the ...more
Dustin Taylor
Very technical book that needs to be read one chapter at a time and then the principles applied therein. I need to read it over and over again to really grasp and apply all the principles, but it is a VERY good book to help you recognize when crucial conversations (heated and emotion-driven conversations) start and how to best navigate through them without causing problems.

I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position, whether that be a spouse, CEO, parent or simply anyone who h
...more
Rachel
I skipped the annoying self-satisfied introductions and forwards and it was still difficult to read the first few chapters. Once the material got more specific instead of just promising I would be awesome, it was good. However, it took almost half the book for it to get good.

I still would have liked their examples to have been more specific. We are social creatures and we learn through social modeling, i.e., watching others do things. I also found it annoying that they made up terms like "fool'
...more
Meredith
Mar 30, 2015 Meredith is currently reading it
From the Forward message at the beginning "To KNOW and not to DO is really to not to know".
Crucial Conversation: A discussion between 2 or more people where (1) stakes are high (2) opinions vary (3) emotions run strong.

CH 1) tells you why your body reacts the way it does when faced with a heated moment.
Someone says something you disagree with, this happens: two tiny organs atop your kidneys pump adrenaline into your bloodstream. Your brain then diverts blood from activities it deems nonessentia
...more
Veselin Nikolov
This book can help you identify and resolve communication failures.

Communication failures according to the author are violence and silence. It's very easy to fall back to violence or silence if you respond to emotions, and emotions always come when stakes are high. Stakes become high when you are afraid or disrespected. To prevent communication failures, we need to control emotions in ourselves, respect the others, and address their fears.

We get some recipes and many examples how to do all of th
...more
Linda Qualls
I liked this book! I was able to relate to a lot of the examples provided and it has helped me handle my conversations with my team members in a better way. I have learned how important it is to have an outline of how you want the conversation to go before you enter the meeting and how to listen carefully and not react too quickly. While I know how I want the conversation to go, I still need to listen and be sure that we are actually on the same page. I may need to revamp my plan during the meet ...more
Bryan Murdock
Why do self-help books all have to be the same? Large print, chatty conversational writing style, and the author (or authors), instead of refraining from identify and referring to themselves, use every opportunity to point out that *they* are the ones who came up with these great ideas and you are learning it from *them*. And why does the entire first chapter have to be a sales pitch to get you to read the rest of the book? I'm already reading it! I either bought a copy, or went to the trouble f ...more
Ben
Summary: This book is about not missing out on opportunities. The proposal made is that by messing up important conversations your missing out on outcomes for no good reason than the adrenaline pumping through your veins and some basic skills they hope to teach you.

Things I liked:

Plenty of case studies where they demonstrated how to apply the techniques they're talking about (or sometimes how not to apply them). They claim that the examples are live case studies (they might be but I think they
...more
Eddie

As explained in the book, crucial conversations are those conversations characterized by three elements: High Stakes, Strong Emotions and Varying Opinions. Those who do not know how to navigate these predicaments are said to be stuck, and furthermore, those who are not adept conversationalists can further entrench themselves if not careful.

Crucial Conversations provides context by: explaining the pool of shared meaning, what happens to your brain, reasoning and judgment when placed in fight or f
...more
Jeff Brateman
While simple, this book really is great. It details the specifics for dealing with emotions appropriately and effectively, while trying to dialog. One of the best points made in this book is that dialog is communication of information. Information is not communicated when feelings are running hot, assumptions are being made, and acts of disrespect occur. It's hard to take a step out of conversations, and this book does a pretty good job of explaining some steps to achieve dialog.

Obviously, some
...more
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Kerry is a prolific writer who has coauthored numerous articles and award-winning training programs. Kerry taught at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management and then cofounded Interact Performance Systems, where he worked for ten years as vice president of research and development. Kerry is coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers Change Anything, Crucial Conversations, Crucial ...more
More about Kerry Patterson...
Influencer: The Power to Change Anything Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success Value Based Fees Crucial Conversations Skills (Crucial Conversations & Crucial Accountability)

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“People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool--even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs. Now, obviously they don't agree with every idea; they simply do their best to ensure that all ideas find their way into the open.” 8 likes
“The Pool of Shared Meaning is the birthplace of synergy” 6 likes
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