Crucial Conversations

newsletter Dec 05, 2023

From Salesforce Saturday newsletter. Originally sent on 11/25/2023


Happy Saturday!

Today we have a short read on approaching tough conversations.

Communication skills are non-linear.

Improving your communication skills by 10% could double your income.

One 10% improvement we can all practice is learning how to have difficult conversations.

We know the ones.

The conversations where emotions can run hot.

Where stakes seem high, and it’s easy to offend another person (or take something personally yourself).

The conversations we don’t want to have.

What if handling these difficult conversations became an area of strength for you?

What would it be like for you to enjoy when these conversations appear, because you get to deliver a masterful performance, almost like a concert pianist?

A powerful question that’s guided me during difficult conversations recently is:

How can I be 100% honest and 100% respectful?

Many times in difficult conversations we think that we have to be honest or respectful but we can’t be both.

We’re either overly direct, risk damaging a relationship by giving offense, and fail to get our message across.

Or we stay silent, don’t say anything that could be taken poorly, and keep our most important thoughts and feedback to ourselves.

Neither strategy is optimal.

Our brains evolved over time and there are two key regions we have to keep in mind during a difficult conversation.

The neocortex where we think rationally.

And the amygdala which responds to threats in the environment.

By being overly direct in order “to be honest” we trigger the other person’s amygdala.

They go into fight or flight mode, and literally can’t understand what we’re saying because their neocortex isn’t online.

And by not saying anything at all, we don’t trigger the other person’s amygdala… but we also prevent sharing feedback their neocortex could use to act more effectively as well as prevent sharing our true selves with them.

The question helps us solve this challenge.

How can I be 100% honest and 100% respectful?

We’re 100% respectful to ensure the other person feels safe and respected.

This keeps their amygdala from going crazy.

We’re also 100% honest so that we can speak our real truth, allowing the other person to incorporate our ideas into their thinking going forward (or allow them to change our thinking with a new point of view).

And rather than coming away from the conversation feeling like we hurt someone’s feelings or didn’t share our true thoughts, we’re able to do both.

As if by magic, doing this actually makes our relationship with the other person stronger.

I lifted this question from the book “Crucial Conversations” and would encourage you to check it out if you’re looking for more insight on the topic.

I found this question and the book itself to be a powerful new way of thinking about having some of the most important conversations in life.

Hope you find it helpful too.


Have a great weekend!




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