As I read this exceptionally informative book, I was again reminded of the fact that the Chinese word for “crisis” has two meanings: peril and opportunity. As those who have been or are now involved in process simplification initiatives already know, every problem encountered offers a valuable learning opportunity. The same is also true when encountering “broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior” either within or beyond the workplace. The authors of this volume address questions such as these:
What’s a “crucial confrontation”?
What to do before one occurs?
How to know when — and when NOT — to initiate one?
How to “get your head right before opening your mouth”?
How to begin a crucial confrontation?
How to involve and engage others to take appropriate action?
How to make keeping commitments (almost) painless?
What to do when others “get sidetracked, scream, or sulk”?
What to do after a crucial confrontation?
How to gain commitment and move to action?
How to solve “big, sticky, complicated problems”?
How to deal with the truly tough? (i.e. the twelve “yeh buts”)
The authors also provide four appendices: A self-assessment for measuring confrontation skills, “The Six-Source Model,” “When Things Go Right,” and discussion questions for reading groups. Although any one of the appendices is worth far more than the cost of this book, their greatest value will be derived when the information and counsel are correlated with the material which the authors share in the nine chapters.
My own experience in the business world suggests that “broken promises, violated expectations, and bad behavior” really do offer both perils and opportunities. A careful reading of this book and then an equally careful application of the advice which the authors offer will, in my opinion, help reduce (if not eliminate) the former while helping to achieve effective fulfillment of the latter.
I also highly recommend what is many respects a companion volume, Crucial Conversations: Tools for TalkingWhen the Stakes Are High (2002), that has the same co-authors and publisher.