This week I spent 3 days with my core staff members from Faith Lutheran Church on a retreat. We were trying to get ready for the busy fall schedule ahead. To do this, we spent lots of time in prayer and devotion around God’s Word. We had a lot of great conversations together about our shared mission and vision. We also looked at a book titled Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler. We all agreed that this is an excellent resource for anyone who ever talks to another human being! We found it particularly useful for our context in the work of the church.
The basic premise of the book is that regular conversations can quickly move to a “crucial” level when the stakes are high, opinions differ and emotions are strong. When we enter into a crucial conversation, it’s tempting for us to go in two unhealthy directions … toward various forms of silence or violence. If not recognized and averted, these reactions can cause miscommunication at best and serious harm at worst. However, it’s possible to recognize our propensity toward silence and violence. A useful assessment tool in the book seemed to be right on target as we all agreed it accurately identified some of our bad communication habits.
The book also offered help in overcoming our dangerous behaviors in crucial conversations. We began to put our learning into practice right away at the retreat and we look forward to applying it in all our future communication. This is definitely a useful tool as we seek to live out all our relationships in God’s way. I highly recommend it to anyone who ever talks to other people and would like to avoid the destructive pitfalls that can trip us up.