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Summary of Crucial Conversations 

Short summary

Plain vanilla conversations are an everyday occurrence for us humans, so we kind of handle them right when we have them. Where the “problems” arise is when the conversations turn crucial ― there are high stakes involved, opinions vary, or emotions run high. We generally fail to handle these other types of conversations well for several reasons. For one, we don’t even recognize the moment the conversation transitioned from plain vanilla into the crucial territory. Also, when we do realize we are in “crucial zone,” we have no modus operandi for dealing with it. The authors of “Crucial Conversations” take us through the journey from being novices at crucial conversations to becoming the most talented dialogue in the room.

Key points


The crucial conversations you get into during the course of your day have an effect on the quality of your personal and professional life

Crucial conversations are the day-to-day conversations that affect your life, as opposed to plain vanilla conversations.

Conversations become crucial when opinions vary, for example, when you and a boss differ on whether or not you are ready for a promotion; when the stakes are high, for example, in a strategy meeting when the company is not meeting its annual growth rate; and when emotions run strong, for example, when you are in the midst of an emotional standoff with your spouse.

Crucial conversations are what they are because the results have a huge impact on the quality of your life. We often back away from having them because we fear that we will make matters worse. Instead, we adopt all kinds of tactics to dodge touchy issues. We send an email to a colleague instead of walking down the hall to talk cold-turkey. Bosses leave voicemails in lieu of meeting with their direct reports.

Strong relationships, careers, organizations, and communities all draw from the same source of power — the ability to talk openly about high-stakes, emotional, controversial topics.

The bigger The Pool of Shared Meaning is in a crucial conversation, the better the outcomes that result from it

Most of us think we are limited to either/or choices, also known as The Fool's Choice — a choice between telling the truth and losing a friend — in a crucial conversation.
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Getting your heart right, first, is the key to getting your crucial conversations right


Learning to recognize the moment a conversation starts turning unhealthy will enable you to respond quickly and get it back on track


There are very simple, logical steps you can take to restore safety to a crucial conversation gone wrong and get it back on track


By staying in charge of your emotions and proactively acting on them during a crucial conversation, you give the conversation a chance to yield the outcome you desire


S.T.A.T.E. is the framework you can use to master the persuasive speaking skills necessary to make a success out of a crucial conversation


You can build rapport with the other participant in a crucial conversation by allowing him or her to S.T.A.T.E. his or her path


The “Who-Does What-By When-How will you follow up” framework helps turn crucial conversations into actions and results



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