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Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  56,681 ratings  ·  3,244 reviews
The New York Times and Washington Post bestseller that changed the way millions communicate

"[Crucial Conversations] draws our attention to those defining moments that literally shape our lives, our relationships, and our world. . . . This book deserves to take its place as one of the key thought leadership contributions of our time."
--from the Foreword by Stephen R. Covey
ebook, Second Edition, 288 pages
Published September 16th 2011 by McGraw-Hill Education (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)
Geneva Boehlen I found mine at a thrift store, so while it's not free, check it out on ebay, or better yet, check your local library, your overdrive app, or hoopla.…moreI found mine at a thrift store, so while it's not free, check it out on ebay, or better yet, check your local library, your overdrive app, or hoopla.(less)
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Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nancy G
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction, own
Self-help books can be a tough sell. Crucial Conversations was given to everyone where I work as required reading. When given required self-help reading you may immediately make assumptions:

• This is going to be cheesy
• I don’t have any issues, so I won’t need this
• This book will just waste my time
• Etc., etc., etc.

However, I can confidently say that Crucial Conversations will help direct the reader toward successful and meaningful conversations at both work and in your daily life.
Do you freque
Jun 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

- the book had some pretty good advice, really not much I could have argued with
- it was indeed quite specific, and described real conversational tools, as stated in the title
- it had lots of examples
- it's pretty short and easy to read

So in a sense, I recommend it.


1) too much self-promo. Five times or so throughout the book they mentioned some super-exclusive very interesting content that's available at this link. Of course, I went there to check it out. Surprise, surprise, I ha
May 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Daniel Silvert
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very insightful book that breaks down all the guiding points to a productive conversation even when emotions are high. Communication and emotional intelligence are skills that everyone can always improve upon, and this book has encouraged me to think more deeply about the way I express myself and how I can do better.
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
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started writing a long review that went into great detail about why I found this book a waste of paper. I’m shocked that this book sold two dozen copies, let along two million.

Then I remembered a comment one of the author’s made in their acknowledgements section and decided that much more succinctly summed up this book’s many problems: namely, how many people came up to him and told him they own this book but have never read it.

That right there tells you how this book became a bestseller – bec
I wasn't highly impressed with this book, I certainly don't recommend reading it via an e-reader. Perhaps it would have been more digestable and useful if I had purchased a physical copy of the book. ...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
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The content could be useful for many people, especially if they've never learned anything before about communication. It's common sense about listening.
However, I think it doesn't really live up to the bit about "when stakes are high." For example, when it gets to sexual harassment in the workplace it uses an anecdote about a man who puts his hand on coworkers' chairs and this makes a woman uncomfortable and so she tells him and he stops. That's great, but the book suggests that if it's more se
How do you deal with conflict? I tend to avoid it. That’s just how I’ve been wired for a long time.

Avoidance isn’t inherently bad, as it can give me time to work out problems or calm down before saying something out of place, but it can be exhausting, as I’ll mull things over without trying to solve the problem.

This once got me in trouble with substance abuse because I was trying to avoid reality. Now that I can identify the avoidant part of my personality, I can start trying to make it work be
Ying Ying
This is a book that offers tools to help you get what you want in crucial moments of your life. The authors aimed not at writing about communications, but at helping you achieve goals in key interactions.

I liked that the book is easily digestible. Each chapter can be read in about 10-15 minutes, with summaries at the end. The concluding chapter wraps up all concepts very nicely with a table that summarizes all the principles, skills and questions to ask that were introduced throughout the book.
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Josh Utterback
Aug 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No ONE!!!
Recommended to Josh by: Paula Hamm
Shelves: 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
Kathrine Holyoak
Pulled apart, each element could be classified as simple common sense. But when it comes to tough conversations, most of us botch them like idiots. My sister had been proselyting this book to me like a newfound religion. I wasn't in the mood until I bumped up against a "crucial" need that only a constructive "conversation" could mend. I'm the newest convert. I couldn't guzzle the blue kool-aid fast enough. Relationships are everything to me; but I am profoundly imperfect at them. The methods (an ...more
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Good concepts, but content ended up coming across pretty dull. I found myself setting this down and not wanting to pick it back up again. I'm beginning to think that I actually do not enjoy "self help" books. Just feel like watered down textbooks that I feel like could be summed up in a MUCH shorter essay!

Get to the point already!
Ilse Niemeyer
Aug 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found the writing pretentious and annoying. The advice is sound, but the authors spend so much time telling you how great the book is and throwing strange code names for things that don't need code names at you (ie "sell outs"...what?) that the message loses its potency. ...more
Mario Tomic
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply awesome and life changing, goes straight to my top 5 all time favorites! I wish I had read this book years ago.
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
Jeff Yoak
This book was wonderful. It's probably the best communication book that I've read since The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense, and probably the one that could provide me with the most value of any that I've read.

The book thoughtfully covers what makes conversations crucial, and discusses the nature of dialog, what gets in the way of dialog, and how to overcome those challenges.

One caution: I read most books in audio, and this book so captivated me that when I started it in audio, I finished that
Sepideh R
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty smooth, not so long, useful, and practical.
Here are some lines that I enjoyed:

- "It is an amazing but true thing that practically the only people who ever say mean, insulting, wounding things to us are those of our own households. "

- "Others don't make you mad, you make you mad. you make you scared, annoyed or insulted. You and only you create your emotions. "

- "It's important to get in touch with your feelings, and to do so, you may want to expand your emotional vocabulary."

- " When it c
A crucial conversation is a discussion characterized by high stakes, differing opinions, and potent emotions, e.g. ending a relationship, asking a roommate to move out, confronting a colleague, or giving feedback to your boss.

We either avoid having these conversations altogether or handle it badly: withdraw, or rage and say things we later regret.

Failed crucial conversations lead to failed relationships (family/friends/colleagues). It’s how you argue that matters. Don’t retreat into silence (ME!
Justin Gravitt
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was extremely strong on content, but it felt like the text dragged on and on. The examples were on point, but could have been shortened. The principles were well expressed, but again needn't be so long.

I'd recommend this book for the content alone, but be prepared to skim sections once you have an understanding of the principles.
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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

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When author TJ Klune was growing up, he never saw queer characters in books in a way that felt true to his experience.  “They were the...
203 likes · 14 comments
“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.” 35 likes
“It’s the most talented, not the least talented, who are continually trying to improve their dialogue skills. As is often the case, the rich get richer.” 20 likes
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