Crucial Conversations Review - Strategies That Work When the Stakes are High

We all experience situations in our personal or business lives where things get tense. Controversial topics arise, and feelings and important relationships are on the line. In those moments, saying the right thing is crucial -- but that can be also be difficult. Opinions vary, stakes are high, and emotions run strong. What kind of choices do we make in those pivotal moments?

New York Times and Washington Post Bestseller Crucial Conversations offers profound and easily accessible tools for use in communicating in any relationship, especially when the discussion may get tough. 

The New York Times and Washington Post Bestseller -- Over 2 Million Copies Sold

The authors, renowned behavioral experts Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler, are Co-Founders of VitalSmarts, the leading force in social science worldwide. In addition to helping countless individuals successfully navigate personal relationship problems and issues, VitalSmarts has done extremely significant work in corporate training and organizational performance. 

Thirty years of ongoing research has helped over 300 of the Fortune 500 realize significant results by driving behavioral change, leading to more lucrative revenues, as well as better workplace relationships and healthier, more satisfied employees.

Over 1 million people have trained in VitalSmarts’ programs, and the Crucial Conversations book has over 2 Million copies sold.

Whether we are approaching a difficult boss for a raise or fair treatment, or talking with someone who is breaking his or her own policies, or critiquing a colleague's work, or having a tough talk with someone you love, keeping the conversation productive can be very difficult. Drawing from three decades of observation, research and experiments in what happens in successful conversations, and what happens in harmful ones, Crucial Conversations has been:

  • Ranked by Business Insider as one of the most popular business books of 2013
  • Selected as a Top Training Product of the Year by Human Resource Executive for its ability to deliver results

The Crucial Conversations hardback and paperback rank highly on Amazon:

And the Crucial Conversations CD is highly ranked on Amazon in categories as diverse as these:

  • #1 in Parenting and Families’: Interpersonal Relations 
  • #5 in Business 
  • #41 under Business & Money Skills: Communication.

This invaluable book helped me to change my perspective on my own crucial conversations, bringing hope and an understanding of how to navigate the most difficult circumstances away from stress and disagreement and into safety and productive communication.

In addition to providing powerful information, the book explains the principles of successful communication with easy to understand examples that are fully relatable -- and solutions that are retainable. 

In addition to the book and CD, Crucial Conversations is an innovative Training Course in which attendees learn skills for creating better relationships, including skills for listening and empathy, which lead to conflict resolution. Too often, we find ourselves resorting to destructive behavior in crucial conversations, using harmful, aggressive tactics such as judgment, controlling a conversation, or interrupting; conversely, at times people in crucial conversations resort to silence tactics, such as stonewalling, avoidance or calling in sick. In personal relationships, this can lead to devastation, separation and divorce. In the workplace, this can lead to job tension, lack of productivity, missed deadlines, loss in company revenue, and loss of employment. 

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Crucial Conversations course, lead by a fantastic Trainer, Salomeh Diaz. Salomeh brings a wealth of experience to her position, and it is clear the high degree of respect attributed to her is well-deserved. Here is an example of Salomeh in action, teaching this invaluable work.

Crucial Conversations Trainer Salomeh Diaz


The training consisted of two extremely rigorous, intensive days, beginning with huge insight into what happens in successful conversations, and what happens in hurtful conversations, and then filled with training on how to have successful ones. 

The class begins with a listener-friendly overview of the neuroscience of stressful conversations: how our amygdala can hijack our neocortex, causing adrenaline to surge into our bloodstreams. This causes the brain to divert blood from higher-level reasoning sections of your brain to high-priority tasks such as hitting and running, which is known as the “fight or flight syndrome.” 

As Crucial Conversations states on page 5, “As a result, we end up facing challenging conversations with the same intellectual equipment available to a rhesus monkey.”  Another important factor that contributes to the fact that we’re under pressure is that crucial conversations are frequently spontaneous -- and since we’re caught by surprise, we’re forced to conduct an extraordinarily complex, high-stakes interaction on the spot, without the benefit of preparation. 

Unfortunately, during these stressful incidents, what we do have to work with is a brain that’s drunk on adrenaline and often almost incapable of rational thought. It’s small wonder that we often do and say things that make sense in the moment, but that we later regret. 

In addition to this information being documented over three decades of research, experimentation, and implementation by the Crucial Conversations authors, this scientific research on emotional intelligence is further explored by the work of author/psychologist Daniel Goleman and neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux.

It’s great to know that, in addition to the science of how human beings are physiologically set up to fail in times of potential conflict, there is a scientific, proven approach to having successful, crucial conversations.

The approach is easily learned, laid out in steps during the two-day seminar. The book and training session both include a self-assessment test to determine your own communications strengths and weaknesses. At an easy pace, Salomeh goes over the potential hazards and pitfalls of crucial conversations and then teaches specific communication skills that are easy to learn, in order to work toward a feeling of safety and success for everyone involved. The skills are rehearsed in groups and feedback is given. Salomeh fosters a non-judgmental, open atmosphere of support, which helps immeasurably as we assess our strengths and weaknesses and work towards consistently successful communication. 

Helpful diagrams, anagrams and tools make these concepts extremely easy to learn -- and apply


The course even provides countless scripted phrases to fall back on when we fail to find words in a stressful situation. “It seems to me that...” “I’m feeling like...” “I hear you saying that...”

On a personal note, I now clearly understand exactly what happens, and why, in my conversations that have had unfruitful results, as well as conversations that have been successful. I am extremely grateful.

There’s no graduation for this work -- it’s a life-long process. But with the alternative being a life-long series of experiences of unsatisfactory exchanges, stressful moments with colleagues, unproductive business proposals, and other personal and professional relationship problems, Crucial Conversations stands as a tested and reliable source for help.

Which will you choose in difficult circumstances: falling back on old habits, with frustration and failure -- or using tools for successful communication beyond your imagination? Crucial Conversations has the answers.

More information is available here: 

Crucial Conversations on Amazon

Crucial Conversations


VitalSmarts Twitter 

Crucial Conversations Trainer Salomeh Diaz 

Or call 800.449.5989 for more information on how Crucial Conversations can work for you.

Watch this space for upcoming articles, including a special feature on Los Angeles-based Trainer Salomeh Diaz and how Crucial Conversations can work for you.



Top of Page
Join Splash Magazines

Feature Article

Tempflow™ and Tempur-Pedic® Reviews - What 35 Hours of Research Uncovered

Want Your Business to Male a Splash
<!-- #wrapper -->