My wife Danielle and I have a rule about not talking about work in our bedroom. But she broke the rule the other night . . . and when I was just about asleep . . . not really, I was streaming the latest surf competition!
“Jay,” she exclaimed. “‘Crucial conversations aren’t new! They’re right here in War and Peace! This book was published in the 1800’s.” (1869)
Danielle knows how much I like the book Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler. And I think she may be a little annoyed by my frequent use of these words over the past couple of years.
I guess Leo Tolstoy was on to something before we were, though his usage was for selfish gain, not the benefit of another (which is our aim and focus; helping others to move forwards and upwards). “But if by chance, he met a man in power, instinct immediately whispered to him that this man might be profitable to him, and Prince Vasili struck up a friendship with him and at the first opportunity, led by instinct, flattered him, treated him with easy familiarity, and finally brought about the crucial conversation.” (From War and Peace, Part Third, 1805, first paragraph)
And I’d wager that Tolstoy was not the first to use the term because it is a foundational principle in relationships. Research reveals that crucial conversations are the key to significant change in an organization’s health and behavior and that they improve relationships and personal health as well.
Here is a helpful 2-page handout on why and how to practice crucial conversations: resource.
If you would like to have a conversation about this topic, please don’t hesitate to contact me; I always welcome a conversation and desire to help you move forward.