. Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior

  by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler.

 Format: Paperback, 272pp. ISBN: 0-07-144652-4. Publisher: McGraw-Hill Trade. Pub. Date: January 2005. Retail price US$16.95.  This 5-Star Recommended/Must Reading builds on Difficult Conversations and Crucial Conversations.  The difference - the hallmark of a crucial conversation is disagreement, while crucial confrontations are about disappointments.  Confrontations comprise the very foundation of accountability.  They all start with the question: "Why didn't you do what you were supposed to do?"  And they only end when a solution is reached and both parties are motivated and able to comply.  Confrontations are the prickly, complicated, and often frightening performance discussions that keep you up nights.  We will need these skills for conducting the 8 Crucial Canadian Conversations noted below Click here to see 2 page Training Overview.  here's the forward and 1st chapter in pdf.



-         itís the times

-         . . . human relations effectiveness


Preface: A Note to the Reader


-         The hallmark of a crucial conversation is disagreement

-         Crucial confrontations, on the other hand, are about disappointments . . . failed promises, missed expectations, and all other bad behavior . . . the very foundation of accountability . . . they only end when a solution is reached and both parties are motivated and able to comply.


Introduction: Whatís a Crucial Confrontation: And Who Cares?


-         Surely thereís a method that falls somewhere between the stark, polar world of fight and flight.


What We Mean by Crucial Confrontations


-         Weíre using it in the following way: to confront means to hold someone accountable, face to face.


What 25,000 People Taught Us About Influence


-         Ability to hold people accountable . . . and do that in a way that was respectful.

-         Opinion leaders wielded influence because they were the best at stepping up . . . and holding them accountable.

-         They were able to step up to problems and solve them quickly, and . . . actually enhance relationships.


Crucial Conversations in the Headlines


-         Itís about results ó and crucial ones at that.

-         . . . didnít know how to step up to a crucial confrontation and deal with it well . . . learned not to question authority . . . repressive


Crucial Confrontations and Everyday Life


-         Crucial confrontations lie at the root of all chronic family and organizational problems.


The Problem: In Summary


-         Behind every national disaster, organizational failure, and family breakdown you find the same root cause. People are staring into the face of a crucial confrontation, and theyíre not sure what to say.


Joining the Ranks of the Effective


-         . . . silence . . . violence . . . when you learn to master crucial confrontations, youíll never have to give in to your fears and walk away from a problem again.

-         Now for the bad news. If you canít step up to and master crucial confrontations, nothing will get better. Think about it.

-         In the best companies, people will hold a crucial conversation, face-to-face and in-the-moment. And theyíll hold it well. This, of course, takes skill.

-         ďPeople didnít know how to confront individuals who failed to get with the program.Ē . . . Policies, systems, programs ó any method for encouraging change ó will never function fully until people know how to talk to one another about deviations and disappointments.

-         . . . the good news. The skills for mastering crucial confrontations can be learned. With the right kind of help, people can and do learn crucial confrontation skills all the time.

-         See . . . www.crucialconfrontations.com


The Enormous Benefits of Confronting Others and the Enormous Costs of Walking Away


-         Know how to master their own emotions, describe problems in ways that donít cause defensiveness, make tasks both motivating and easy, and handle anything thatís thrown at them.

-         People can learn crucial confrontation skills, and when they do, organizations benefit.

-         First, there has to be a great deal of room for improvement. Second, leaders have to find a way to tap into it and make the improvements.

-         Morale low . . . costs high . . . ďdeadwoodĒ . . . top performers carry the load.

-         The bottom 20 percent of any population takes up to 80 percent of the time people  in positions of responsibility . . . theyíll be reduced only when the leaders . . . learn how to step up to and hold people accountable.

-         Doctors canít ďjust say noĒ to drugs [when demanded by a patient because they are afraid to].

-         Who can predict 94 percent of any human behavior?

-         What would happen if after a brief review ďat-riskĒ couples learned how to work through crucial confrontations? Imagine the pain and suffering they could avoid.

-         Parents and guardians are the primary role models for social skills.

-         Plop [children] in front of a TV, where they watch 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence by the age of 18, let them peek in on their parents as they argue (half of those parents are verbally slamming each other) and is anyone surprised that when they go to school, they often mistreat one another?

-         Whatís the bottom line? If you canít confront violated expectations effectively, you eventually experience massive personal, social, and organizational consequences; you never get better; and you canít run away. Health-care professionals will continue to remain silent as colleagues fail to comply with standard guidelines. Productivity will continue to run at half of what it should be. The divorce rate will continue to hover around an abysmal 50 percent.


Work on Me First: What to Do Before a Crucial Confrontation


-         We can only really ever change ourselves.

-         Crucial confrontations live and die on the words people choose and the way people deliver them . . . live and die on what people think before they open their mouths.

-         What to do: 

ō      Make sure they are confronting the right problem

ō      See the other person as a person rather than a villain


Choose What And If: How to Know What Crucial Confrontations to Hold and If You Should Hold It


-         If the solution youíre applying doesnít get you the results you really want, itís likely youíre dealing with the wrong problem entirely.

-         The ability to reduce an infraction to its bare essence takes patience, a sense of proportion, and precision. First, you have to take the time to unbundled the problem . . . Second, while sorting through the issues you have to decide what is bothering you the most . . . Third, you have to be concise . . . You have to distill the issue to a single sentence.

-         Think CPR . . . Content, Pattern, Relationship

-         Frequent and continued violations affect the other personís predictability and eventually harm respect and trust . . . Relationship, whatís happening to us . . . causes you to lose trust in them: . . . doubt their competency . . . donít respect.

-         To understand the various kinds of content, pattern, and relationship issues that routinely pop up during crucial confrontations, consider the following three dimensions: consequence, intents, and wants. Each provides a distinct method for first unbundling and then prioritizing complex problems.

-         The problem lies in the consequences. . . Analyzing the consequences help you determine what is most important to discuss.

-         It is perceived intent that bothers

-         Whether the father and the realtor [examples given in text] are correct in their assessment will remain unknown until they confront the offending parties with their suspicions . . . deciding how theyíll confront such a delicate issue isnít easy. These are invisible motives weíre talking about.

-         Ask what you really want and donít want . . . ask what you want for yourself, for the other person, and for the relationship.


Not Speaking When You Should


-         More often than not, we donít speak up when we should

-         To help diagnose whether youíre clamming up when you should be speaking up, ask the following four questions:

                 1. Am I acting out my concerns?

                 2. Is my conscience nagging me?

                 3. Am I choosing the certainty of silence over the risk of speaking up?

                 4. Am I telling myself that Iím helpless?

-    You canít hide your real emotions

Our two favorite methods of tricking ourselves into remaining silent are (1)            downplaying the costs of not speaking and (2) exaggerating the costs of expressing our views.

-         At the heart of most decisions to stay quiet even though weíre currently suffering lies the fear that we wonít be able to make a difference. We believe that either other people or the circumstances themselves make the problem insoluble.

-         Most of us arenít exactly students of social influence. Weíve spent more time memorizing the capitals of Europe than we have examining the intricacies of human interaction.

-         Thereís no use suffering forever.

-         When youíre thinking about going to silence, ask yourself if youíre copping out rather than making a reasonable choice.

-         There are times when itís better not to bring up a problem or at least not to do so until youíve done some preparatory work.

-         You have to issue a fair warning.

-         To determine if youíre wrongly speaking up, ask if the social system will support your effort. If you are committed to speak up while others continue to say nothing, differentiate yourself.


Master My Stories: How to Get Your Head Right Before Opening Your Mouth


-         A personís behavior during the first few seconds of the interaction sets the tone for everything that follows.

-         We establish the climate the moment we assume that the other person is guilty and begin feeling angry and morally superior . . . it all takes place inside our own heads . . . and we end up thinking with the brain of a reptile.


Jumping to Conclusions and Making Assumptions


-         People arenít all that good at attributing causality accurately. We quickly jump to unflattering conclusions. The chief error we make is a simple one: we assume that people do what they do because of personality factors (mostly motivational) alone.

-         How can we be so simplistic and inaccurate? Most of the time human beings employ what is know as dispositional rather than a situational view of others. We argue that people act the way they do because uncontrollable personality factors (their disposition) as opposed to doing what they do because of forces in their own environment (the situation).

-         In truth, people often enact behaviors they take no joy in because of social pressure, lack of other options, or any of a variety of forces that have nothing to do with personal pleasure . . . Psychologists classify this mistake as an attribution error.


Choosing Silence or Violence


-         The vast majority of the subjects we observe were inclined to walk away from broken promises, failed expectations, or bad behavior.

-         We back away from people because we conclude that theyíre selfish or rotten. Then we act on that conclusion as if it were the truth.

-         When you see a violation but move to silence rather than deal with it, three bad things happen:

ō      First, you give tacit approval to the action

ō      Second, others may think that youíre playing favorites

ō      Third, each time the other person repeats the offense . . . you see the new offense as evidence that your story about his or her motives was correct. You continue to tell yourself ugly stories, you fester and fuss, and itís only a matter of time until you blow.

-         Rare is the sudden and unexpected emotional explosion that wasnít preceded by a lengthy period of tortured silence.

-         When you move to violence, the consequences can be nothing short of horrendous.


You Become Hypocritical, Abusive, and Clinically Stupid


-         Of course, nobody transmutes into a hypocritical cretin on purpose. Instead, stupidity creeps up on us.

-         The fact that others need to be treated poorly to get them off their lazy back parts is sacred writ.

-         Letís put this foolishness to bed. People donít deserve to be abused, physically or emotionally. Itís not good for them. Yes, people should be held accountable . . . it is never good to abuse, insult, or threaten others . . . When it comes to emotions, abuse isnít a blessing, itís a curse.

-         When people gain success through abuse, they succeed in spite of their method, not because of it. For over five decades, scholars have shown that abusive leadership styles donít succeed over the long haul, and over the short haul theyíre simply immoral. The greatest leaders, coaches, and parents we studied never became abusive.

-         It takes only an instant to transfer goodwill.

-         The instant anyone becomes abusive, they give up the moral high ground.

-         Of course, this doesnít mean that the original parties are off the hook, but it does mean that the leaders are now on the hook.

-         Hereís the deal: You canít solve a problem with a villain. You can do that only with a human being.


The Solution: Tell the Rest of the Story


-         Since the problem of coming up with ugly stories and suffering the consequences takes place within the confines of your own mind, thatís where the solution lies as well. Effective problem solvers observe an infraction and then tell themselves a more complete and accurate story . . . They ask: ďWhy would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do that?Ē . . . They adopt a situation as well as a dispositional view of people . . . gain a deeper understanding of why people do what they do . . . develop a diverse set of tools for orchestrating change.

-         At the top of our model are two components of behavior selection. In order to take the required action, the person must be willing and able. Each of these components is affected by three sources of influence: self, others, and things.

-         Cell #1: Self, Motivate (Pleasure or Pain)

-         Cell #2: Self, Enable (Strength or Weakness) - . . . donít know how to defuse the   hostility

-         Admitting that a problem might stem from several different causes, changes our whole approach. We arenít certain, we arenít smug, we arenít angry, and we slow down. Weíre curious instead of boiling mad. We feel the need to gather more data rather than charge in guns-a-blazing. We move from judge, jury, and executioner to curious participant.

-         Cell #3: Others, Motivate (Praise or Pressure)

-         Should it surprise us that most of the ridiculous things both children and adults do are a result of simply wanting to be accepted?

-         Why? Because the presence of others who say nothing causes them to doubt their own beliefs and their desire to be accepted taints their overall judgment. Peer pressure is the mother of all stupidity.

-         Cell #4: Others, Enable (Help or Hindrance)

-         In addition to motivating you to do things, other people can enable or disable you.

-         Notice the role youíre playing in.

-         Cell #5: Things, Motivate (Carrot or Stick)

-         Guess what happens when money is aimed at the wrong targets? For instance, managers are rewarded for keeping costs down, and hourly employees are rewarded for working overtime. Theyíre constantly arguing.

-         It is sheer folly to reward A while hoping for B.

-         Until they see clear alternative pathways to financial well-being, thousands of young men and women will be lost to this social cancer.

-         Cell #6: Things, Enable (Bridge or Barrier)

-         Discuss an infraction as a scientist, not a vigilante.

-         Be intuitive.

-         Look at all six sources of influence. Examine the force of self, others, and things ó all either motivate or enable others to keep their commitments.


Confront With Safety: What to Do During a Crucial Confrontation


-         When there is enough safety, you can talk to almost anyone about almost anything.

-         Describe the Gap, Make it Motivating, Make it easy (understand the underlying principles of empowerment), Stay Focused and Flexible


Describe the Gap: How to Start a Crucial Confrontation


-         Almost nobody should be harboring the illusion that he or she has been groomed to solve touchy and complicated interpersonal problems. Almost nobody has.

-         Of course, business schools, the breeding place for managers and vice presidents, rarely teach anything about leadership . . . The curriculum certainly doesnít cover crucial confrontations

-         How are leaders and parents supposed to have picked up the ability to hold a simple goal-setting session, let alone tap-dance through thorny crucial confrontations? Through osmosis?

-         Weíre stepping up to a: Broken Promise: a gap, a difference between what you expected and what actually happened


Know What to Do


-         Donít play games; sandwiching . . . surprise attacks . . . entrapments . . . theyíre dishonest, manipulative, and insulting.

-         Donít play Charades

-         Donít pass the buck; this strategy is disloyal, dishonest, and ineffective. Anyone can see through it.

-         Donít play read my mind

-         Learn the best lifestyle; when you find someone who can manage both people and production, youíve got a real gem.

-         Describe the Gap: start with safety, share your path, and end with a question.


The Big Surprise


-         At the foundation of every successful confrontation lies safety. When others feel frightened or nervous or otherwise unsafe, you canít talk about anything. But if you can create safety, you can talk with almost anyone about almost anything ó even about failed promises.

-         Make it safe for people, and they wonít need to go to silence or violence.

-         People feel unsafe when they believe one of two things:

-                             1. You donít respect them as a human being (lack of Mutual Respect)

-                             2. You donít care about their goals (lack of Mutual Purpose)

-         They immediately want to know one thing: are they in trouble?


Mutual Respect


-         If your tone of voice, facial expression, or words show disrespect . . . You have signaled that this confrontation is going to end badly


Mutual Purpose


-         At the very first sign of fear, you have to diagnose. Are others feeling disrespected? Or do they believe youíre at cross purposes? Or both? Then you have to find a way to let others know that you respect them and that youíre not going to trample all over their wishes.

-         Show others respect by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Tell the rest of the story. Think of other people as rational, reasonable, and decent.

-         Contrasting: First, imagine what others might erroneously conclude. Second, immediately explain that this is what you donít mean. Third, as a contrasting point, explain what you do mean.

-         If you think others are likely to harbor bad thoughts about your intentions before youíve even said a word, take another kind of preventive measure: Establish Mutual Purpose.

-         Build common ground before you even mention a problem. Let others know that your intentions are pure ó that your goal is to solve problems and make things better for both of you. Start with whatís important to you and them ó not just you. Establish Mutual Purpose.


Ask For Permission


-         If the topic youíre about to address is traditionally off limits, particularly sensitive, or something a person in your position doesnít normally discuss, ask for permission to discuss it. Be gracious. Asking for permission is a powerful sign of respect.


Speak in Private


-         Always discuss problems in private.

-         Care about his interests and respect his position . . . ďI will do what you think needs to be doneĒ . . . [the other] feels safe about where the conversation is going.

-         Lack of clarity is a problem solverís worst enemy. People canít improve if they donít know the specific details of the infraction.

-         How do you share your path?

-         Itís best to start with the facts: what you heard and saw.

-         Stay external

-         Explain what, not why.

-         Gather facts.

-         Hereís the bottom line. Every time you share a vague and possibly inflammatory story instead of a fact, youíre getting that the other person wonít become defensive and can translate what youíre thinking into what he or she did. Thatís a bad bet. Share the facts. Describe the observable details of whatís happening. Cut out the guesswork.


Tentatively Share Your Story


-         Intent is . . . Youíre trying not to make the fundamental attribution error, but facts are starting to pile up and itís hard to keep assuming the best. Keeping an open mind is one thing; being naÔve is another.

-         Start with facts because theyíre the least emotional and controversial element of the conversation and then tentatively share your story or conclusion. Make sure your language is free of absolutes.

-         Your conclusion could be dead wrong, but it is your conclusion thatís starting to eat at you, and now youíve made it safe to talk about it. By taking the attitude that you could be wrong and using tentative language, youíre being fair.


End with a Question


-         What happened?

-         Your goal should be to hear the other personís point of view.

-         Let him or her know that this is a dialogue, not a monologue. You help the other person understand that your goal is not to be right or to punish but to solve a problem and that all the information must be out in the open for that to occur. So end your opening statement with a sincere invitation for the other person to share even completely contrary opinions with you . . . listen carefully.

-         Diagnose the root of the problem ó which of the six sources of influence is at play? Are they unmotivated? Are they unable? The solution to each alternative is quite different. You donít want to try to motivate people who canít do what youíve asked, or enable people who donít care . . . listen for the underlying cause.

-         Failing to live up to a commitment . . . is a far bigger issue.


Make It Motivating: How to Help Others Want to Take Action


-         Knowing how to bring to the surface and resolve all the underlying causes requires a great deal of skill.


Itís About to Get Complicated


-         How do you reach into other peopleís psyches regardless of their power or position or, better still, regardless of your power or position and motivate them to do what they promised to do? . . . Hint: Your power doesnít matter all that much.


Motivation With a Capital M


-         At the heart of our twisted view of how to motivate others lies an accumulation of outdated methods and tortured thoughts, one piled upon another. We come to believe that good leaders propel people to action by blending two parts charisma, one part chutzpah, and a healthy dash of fear into a perfect motivational cocktail. And weíre wrong.


Getting to the Root of Motivation


-         Contrary to popular myth, you donít have to wield power or provoke fear to be an effective motivator. In fact . . . that kind of flawed thinking is exactly what gets us into trouble.

-         In fact, the amount of power you have has little to do with how well you motivate others . . . We have watched people with almost no authority motivate their bossesí bosses.

-         Motivation . . . has little to do with clout, chutzpah, or even charisma. In fact, motivation is about expectations, information, and communication.


Expectations Change Everything


-         A simple truism: People are always motivated.

-         Second, motivation is brain-driven. People choose their behavior. Third, motivation in influenced by a nearly infinite number of sources from both within and without.

-         Hereís how the human brain and the surrounding world combine to propel individual behavior. Human beings anticipate. When deciding what to do, they look to the future and ask, ďWhat will this particular behavior yield?Ē When they choose one action over another, itís because theyíre betting that that action will generate the best results. Since any action yields a combination of results, some good and some bad, itís the expected sum total of the consequence bundle that drives behavior.

-         Hereís what motivation comes down to: Change othersí view of the consequence bundle and their behavior will follow.


Three Approaches to Avoid


-         One thing is for certain: Three of the popular methods ó charisma, power, and perks ó donít work very well.

-         Donít rely on charisma. Everyday acts of motivation are almost always subtle, rarely elicit awe, and never make the papers.

-         Donít use power. Raw power . . . rarely moves hearts and minds. Hearts and minds are changed through expanded understanding and new realizations.

-         The Reasons We Intuitively Rely on Force . . . If others cause us a great deal of pain, we believe they must be bad to the core. Since weíre dealing with deep-seated personality flaws, we have to use threats. The more we feel the need to apply force, the greater is the evidence that our own thoughts are the problem . . . Thatís because weíre thinking with our dumbed-down, adrenaline-fed lizard brain.

-         Warning lights should go off every time we feel compelled to reach into our bag of influence tools and pull out a hammer: If we donít catch ourselves before itís too late, weíll pay.

-         The Cost of Force: Force Kills Relationships . . . We move from enjoying a healthy partnership based on trust and mutual respect to establishing a police state that requires constant monitoring . . . our relationship with others is forever changed. We move from respected partner to feared enforcer. And then we pay

-         Force Motivates Resistance . . . it destroys safety. And when safety disappears, people immediately become defensive. Eventually they resist our ideas out of principle.

-         Perhaps the largest avoidable cost in every organization is the loss of energy that comes every time someone abuses his or her power.

-         Force Doesnít Last . . . authoritarian (power-based) style

-         Be careful with the perks. Extrinsic rewards often kill intrinsic satisfaction. Special rewards should be reserved for special performances.


The Solution


-         Savvy parents and influential leaders use their ability to teach . . . change peopleís hearts by changing their minds.

-         Consequences make up the reasons behind all behavior, so savvy influencers motivate others with a consequence search: They explain natural consequences until they hit upon one or more that the other person cares about. As you start your own consequence search, your job is to make the invisible visible while maintaining a dialogue.


Make the Invisible Visible


-         When it comes to exploring natural consequences, your primary job is to help others see consequences they arenít seeing (or remembering) on their own. That happens because many of the outcomes associated with a particular behavior are long-term or occur out of sight. Your job is to help make the invisible visible. Here are methods for doing that.

-         > Link to Existing Values: This will be your point of greatest leverage.

-         > Connect Short-Term Benefits with Long-Term Pain

-         > Place the Focus on Long-Term Benefits

-         > Introduce the Hidden Victims

-         > Hold Up a Mirror

-         > Connect to Existing Carrots and Sticks

-         > Stay in Dialogue

-         > Watch for the Line Between Dialogue and Threats

-         > Listen to Othersí Views of Natural Consequences

-         > Stop When You Reach Critical Mass


Match Methods to Circumstances


-         What they really want to know is whether itís really worth it.

-         Itís time to change tactics. Itís time to move away from natural consequences and start imposing consequences of your own (discipline).


Be Appropriately Somber


-         Youíre moving from partnering to policing, and thatís hardly a victory.


Agree on a Work-Around


-         For people to behave badly over the long haul, we have to do two things. First, we have to avoid crucial confrontations . . . Second, we create a work-around that enables others to continue doing what theyíre doing, unaware and guilt-free.

-         The reason others arenít motivated to change is often because of us. Weíre conspirators.


Finish Well


-         As you wrap up the confrontation, make a plan. Decide who will do what and by when. Then set a follow-up time in which you can check to see how things are going.

-         Consequences Motivate


Make It Easy: How to Make Keeping Commitments (Almost) Painless


-         ďIf you held a gun to their head, could they do it?Ē If the answer is yes, theyíre able but unmotivated. This simplistic yet violent test doesnít serve us well.

-         It is a composite problem with both motivational and capability components.

-         The best leaders . . . help people find ways to ease the gut wrenching, simplify the mind boggling, and nullify the noxious.

-         Itís a power trip and some people love power more than they love relationships or even results.

-         Making it easy. Itís the smart thing to do.

-         Involvement both enables and motivates

-         Effectiveness=accuracy x commitment

-         By involving others, you empower them. You provide them with both the means and the motive to overcome problems.

-         Completing the conversation in oneís head ó before one actually speaks ó nullifies the whole purpose of a crucial confrontation. The idea should be jointly to create shared solutions that serve your Mutual Purpose . . . You donít have to make it all better. All you have to do is collaborate. As you develop shared solutions, crucial confrontations become the glue of your relationship.

-         We need to listen to the other personís recommendations and then do our best to partner with that person in thinking through the root causes.

-         When it comes to motivation, one source is all it takes.

-         This isnít about blame or retribution; itís about finding and removing ability barriers.

-         Keep in mind that rules and policies donít solve everything and that the ones you make in-house you can unmake.

-         Hereís another helpful tool. To help surface all variables, ask, ďIf you ran this place, what would you do to solve this problem?Ē


Pop the Question


-         Popping the question means that you end a discussion of ability by checking for motivation . . . Once youíve dealt with motivation, check ability.

-         Ask for permission

-         Ask for feedback.

-         In short, your success depends on whether you see other people as human beings or villains. If youíve come to see others as people you want to help succeed, most of the time youíll do just fine.

-         Empower others by allowing them to take part in diagnosing the real cause and coming up with workable solutions.


Stay Focused and Flexible: What to Do When Others Get Sidetracked, Scream, or Sulk


-         Situations present you with new, emergent problems.


We Must Be Focused And Flexible


-         When a brand-new problem with a life of its own comes up in the middle of a crucial confrontation, we have to decide . . . If the new, emergent problem is more serious, time-sensitive, or emotional than the original one or if it is important to the other person, you have to deal with it right there, on the spot.

-         As new and emergent problems surface, do the following:

ō      Be flexible

ō      Note new problems

ō      Select the right problem: the original problem, the new one, or both

ō      Resolve the new problem and return to the original problem

ō      Be Focused

ō      Deal with problems one at a time

ō      Consciously choose to deal with new issues, donít allow them to be forced upon you.

-         To restore safety, you point to your shared purpose.

-         TRUST . . . the most dangerous new problem, the number one killer of accountability.

-         Letís be realistic. Things do come up.

-         You have to be strong and flexible. You have to be able to bend but not break.

-         At the heart of every workable accountability system there is one simple sentence: ďIf something comes up, let me know as soon as you can.Ē

-         If he left you completely out of the decision, thatís a trust problem


The Foundation of Crucial Confrontation


-         The way we approach the failed promise will depend on our own private history of accountability. If in our company promises are merely rough guidelines, include the possibility of a surprise, or are made with a wink, weíve reaped what weíve sown . . . if you donít have to keep promises, everything falls apart.

-         Set clear and firm expectations and stay flexible.

-         These steps can be applied to any new problem that emerges in the middle of a crucial confrontation. Pull out of the original problem, bring it to a satisfactory resolution, and then decide whether you need to return to the original issue . . . thatís how the world of human interaction unfolds. New problems emerge all the time . . . What is it that I really want? This will help you decide which issue to address.

-         We become righteously indignant only when others have tread on sacred ground.

-         If you think youíre in danger, leave. Then call the appropriate authorities.

-         Donít deal with the content of the argument until youíve dealt with the emotion. The other person isnít very likely to listen to you ó or, for that matter, explain his or her own argument clearly and calmly ó until the chemical surge has subsided.

-         AMPP reminds us that we can simply Ask to get the conversation rolling, Mirror to encourage, Paraphrase for understanding, and Prime to make it safe for the other person to open up.

-         ďYou know what; I need to think about this in more detail. Iíll get back to you later.Ē


Move to Action: What to Do After a Crucial Confrontation


-         Hereís what the best problem solvers do after the crucial confrontation to ensure that the problem doesnít keep showing up:

-         They build accountability by being specific

-         They piece together all the theories and skills into a complete problem-solving discussion


Agree On a Plan and Follow Up: How to Gain Commitment and Move to Action


-         A complete plan . . . assumes nothing. It leaves no detail to chance. It sets clear and measurable expectations. It builds commitment and increases the likelihood that weíll achieve better results. It also enables both parties better to have the next discussion ó for accountability, for problem solving, or for praise.

-         When it comes to large jobs, make sure one person is responsible for the whole task and then link specific people to each part.

-         Ask if there are any questions about quality or quantity. Ask if everyone has the same characteristics in mind. Ask what might be confusing or unclear that has to be clarified now, in advance . . . clarity helps you fill in the gaps.

-         When choosing the frequency and type of follow-up youíll use, consider the following three variables: Risk, Trust, and Competence.

-         If you find yourself in a crucial confrontation where youíre worried about backsliding, never walk away without agreeing on the follow-up time.

-         Holding others accountable, particularly if you have to be honest, is stressful . . . Of course, you can believe this semi tortured logic only if you believe that being honest and holding people to their promises are inherently stressful and bad.


Put It All Together: How To Solve Big, Sticky, Complicated Problems


-         Start talking about solutions that might work. Itís a matter of social calculus.

-         We jump all the way from silence to violence without ever passing through the intervening space separating the two. We donít pause in the land of dialogue. To us, the lovely place where ideas flow freely and honestly rules doesnít exist. Hereís the interesting part: Neither silence nor violence serve us, our relationships, or our purposes, yet we still toggle.

-         The solution to this reaction to failed promises lies in our ability to step up to high-stakes confrontations and handle them well. We see a problem and speak honestly and respectfully. . . Weíre not bad people. Weíre just frightened.

-         You then move from thinking to talking by discreetly and calmly describing the gap . . . But youíre doing your best to describe behavior, not share ugly conclusions.

-         After sharing one sentence or two, you end with a question, not an accusation.

-         Your job is simply to make it motivating. To do this, you jointly explore the forces that cause the task to be motivating or not . . . Your job is to make it easy.


The Twelve ďYeah-ButsĒ: How To Deal With The Truly Tough


-         Hereís the bottom line. The people we watched get through to the toughest bosses differed in soul as much as they differed in skill. They were masters at helping their bosses feel safe because they were masters at seeing problems from their bossesí point of view. It was easy for them to create Mutual Purpose because they spent as much time contemplating how the problem behavior they were about to confront was creating problems for the boss as they did fretting about the problems it was creating for them.

-         This is not a ďblame the victimĒ speech. It is about empowering the weak. If you want greater influence with a powerful and defensive person, what you typically need is not more power but more empathy. What you need is not a bigger hammer but a bigger heart. If you can step away from yourself and consider how the problem behavior is affecting the other person as well as how itís affecting you, youíll have a greater capacity to produce better outcomes for both of you. Besides, people never hammer their bosses without hammering themselves as well.

-         You donít have to be the police.

-         The fact that one of the pair wants to talk while the other prefers not to is the most common pattern in strained relationships.

-         Talk about the pattern.

-         First, ask if it would be okay to talk about an issue because you think that doing that would strengthen your relationship.

-         When you frame the conversation as an opportunity to solve problems they care about and acknowledge some of the things youíve done that might be contributing to the problem, youíre creating safety. This, of course, is always the best place to start.

-         Choose your time carefully. Youíre going to be talking about a longtime pattern.

-         When you do talk, share your concerns along with your tentative conclusion that he or she may be purposely avoiding key problem-solving discussions.

-         Then prime. Is it because the discussions often donít go well? Is there a way to make sure that they donít end up as arguments? Is there something you can do to make sure that they run smoothly? Make it safe for the other person to explain why he or she thinks it isnít safe.

-         Jointly brainstorm.

-         Bring barriers to the surface and find ways to remove them.

-         Lovingly try to resolve the issues. Donít try to ďfixĒ the other person.




-         You surrender control.


Changing Your Culture


-         You canít solve long-standing problems if you havenít let others know exactly what you want.

-         Confront the past. Without singling anyone out, outline for people the natural consequences of how things have been.

-         As you help people connect consequences with past behavior, you build moral authority for resetting expectations.

-         Illuminate your general vision of how things are going to be in the future with specific, identifiable, and replicable actions.

-         Clarify dos and doníts.

-         Study best practices.

-         Contrast what people used to do with what they need to do now. Then teach and focus on those specific actions.

-         Only after youíve clarified your new expectation do you have the right to begin having crucial confrontations with those who violate the new standards. More than a right, it will then be a responsibility.


Borderline Behavior


-         Three factors set those who are adept at dealing with subtle, borderline behavior apart form the rest of the pack: research, homework, and connection.

-         Approach your ďresearchĒ conversation with a genuine desire to discover underlying barriers and then see if you can find ways to resolve them.

-         Next, scrupulously gather facts . . . that will allow you to describe in illuminating detail the difference between mediocrity and excellence.

-         You will not succeed at helping others understand the gap between where they are and the vague objective of excellence unless you do the homework required to make your descriptions crystal-clear.

-         Finally, connect your homework with your research. Explain how your recommendations will not only resolve othersí concerns but also help them achieve their aspirations. When you can make this link, your influence will increase enormously. If you can show the other person how the changes link to his or her own goals, thereís a good chance that the person will be motivated to learn and grow. If you canít, donít expect the person to improve.


Our Plate is Overflowing


-         If employees put up with the abuse or watch others put up with it, everyone becomes a party to the problem. Itís a conspiracy of silence.

-         ďIíd like to talk about a subject that most people donít seem comfortable discussing in public. My goal is to make sure that weíre all able to contribute to the company and meet our objectives. I want to be a team player, and I want to understand what that takes.Ē

-         Itís like playing chicken.

-         ďCould we talk about this subject?Ē

-         A culture of impossibility.

-         Donít point fingers; look for causes. Remember, the world around you has been perfectly organized to create a culture in which smart people are doing stupid things.

-         This is a huge issue . . . As international competition increases and resources continue to be cut, hours increase . . . Weíre now overworked, stressed, and dishonest.

-         This is not the problem that is solved one to one because itís part of the whole culture. But it is a problem that is best prepared one to one. Meet with several colleagues . . . Then go public.

-         Expand your zone of acceptance.

-         The single pest predictor of satisfaction with supervision is frequency of interaction.


I Donít Think We Can Change


-         The good news is that nothing in this book is new or the least bit alien.

-         You donít have to change everything ó just a few things ó and maybe be a bit more consistent.

-         Eat the elephant of personal change one bite at a time.


When Things Go Right


-         When given sincerely and often, praise provides a reserve of respect one can draw from when itís time to talk about failed promises.

-         Praise more than you think you should and the DOUBLE it.

-         The psychological explanation for our inability to see thins gone right is incorporated in the figure-ground theory. Then human perceptual system simplifies any visual array into a figure that we look at and a ground that is everything else that makes up the background.

-         Expressing honest appreciation as a leader, friend, and parent is one of the most important jobs.

-         Look for and then praise small things . . . every day . . . Small, heartfelt moments of appreciation never wear thin . . . Thatís the cue . . . the commitment . . . the change in standards.

-         Focus on the process, not the results.

-         Add spontaneity to structure. Supplement your formal celebrations with ten times as many informal ones.

-         Make praise such a common part of your personal style that when you do enter into a crucial confrontation, youíll have built a safe, trusting, and respectful relationship. Balance confrontations with confirmations.




-         Culture of Silence that contributed to the [spaceship] Columbia accident.

-         Psychiatric Effects of Media Violence (available at: http://www.psych.org).