Book Review: Crucial Conversations

Crucial Conversations is a book I suggested we read as a team. It’s a great idea as a team to do this. Everyone learns new things together.

Crucial Conversations

I found the book a bit difficult to follow sometimes and it seems overwhelming to me to try to implement everything the authors suggest all at once. There are a couple of things though that really resonated with me and I can see implementing these tips in my own life.

Master My Stories

This is chapter 6 of the book.

Just after we we observe what others do and just before we feel some emotion about it, we tell ourselves a story. We add meaning to the action we observed. We make a guess at the motive driving the behavior. Why were they doing that? We also add judgment-is that good or bad? And then, based on these thoughts or stories, our body responds with an emotion.

I am so guilty of this! And of course, the story I tell myself is never good. If an agent sends me an email requesting paperwork I’ve already sent over, I immediately think (or even say out loud!), “Dammit lady, I already sent that to you!” And then I get upset over it. And why? Because I’ve told myself the story that this agent is doing this on purpose and seriously, why is she wasting my time and making me do double work? Isn’t that nuts? The only person getting upset is me and I’m doing it to myself!

So when I get upset like this, I have to remember, “misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in The Sorrows of Young Werther. I have to try to be a little nicer to people and a little more understand and change the story to put myself back in a positive state. I think to myself, “Well maybe she just got busy and overlooked it. I’ve done that myself.” or, “I guess it’s possible it went into her spam folder since this is the first time I’ve emailed her. I’ll just re-send it to her and text her to check her spam folder if she doesn’t see it in her inbox.” And then I feel better. I don’t HAVE to get so worked up over this stuff.

Don’t confuse stories with facts. Sometimes you fail to question your stories because you see them as immutable facts. When you generate stories in the blink of an eye, you can get so caught up in the moment that you begin to believe your stories are facts. They feel like facts. You confuse subjective conclusions with steel-hard data points.

Either our stories are completely accurate and propel us in healthy directions, or they’re quite inaccurate but justify our current behavior–making us feel good about ourselves and calling for no need to change.

Turn villains into humans. When you find yourself labeling or otherwise vilifying others, stop and ask:

  • Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do what this person is doing?

This particular question humanizes others. As we search for plausible answers to it, our emotions soften. Empathy often replaces judgment, and depending upon how we’ve treated others, personal accountability replaces self-justification.

How to Speak Persuasively, Not Abrasively

This is chapter 7 of the book.

Catch yourself before you launch into a monologue. Realize that if you’re starting to feel indignant or if you can’t figure our why others don’t buy in–after all, it’s so obvious to you–recognize that you’re starting to enter dangerous territory.

Back off your harsh and conclusive language. But don’t back off your belief. Hold to your belief; merely soften your approach.

Admittedly, I don’t have a soft approach. In my mind, I’m very direct. Especially if I know you well and I’m comfortable with you. I’ve been know to blurt out, “Dammit Ron, you jacked up this listing paperwork!” when it would have been more appropriate to say, “Hey just FYI, could you make a better effort in the future to get this line on this document signed. I see that several sellers have missed signing it in the past.”

So here’s how the book suggests softening my approach…

Talking tentatively simply means that we tell our story as a story rather than disguising it as a hard fact. “Perhaps you were unaware…” suggests that you’re not absolutely certain. “In my opinion…” says you’re sharing an opinion and no more.

When sharing a story, strike a blend between confidence and humility. Share in a way that expresses appropriate confidence in your conclusions while demonstrating that, if called for, you want your conclusions challenged. To do so, change, “The fact is” to “In my opinion.” Swap “Everyone knows that” for “I’ve talked to three of our suppliers who think that.” Soften “It’s clear to me” to “I’m beginning to wonder if.”

Why soften the message? Because we’re trying to add meaning to the pool, not force it down other people’s throats. If we’re too forceful, the information won’t make it into the pool. One of the ironies of dialogue is that, when talking with those holding opposing opinions, the more convinced and forceful you act, the more resistant others become. Speaking in absolute and overstated terms does not increase your influence, it decreases it. The converse is also true–the more tentatively you speak, the more open people become to your opinions.

I can really see this working for me. I DO get passionate about being RIGHT. I KNOW I’M RIGHT and you ARE WRONG. At least that was my old way of thinking.

Now I have to apply taking a step back and letting the other person at least have a chance to voice their opinion instead of cutting them off. No one likes a know-it-all and a sassy pants. I don’t need to rush in and prove how right I am. Everyone makes mistakes, even me. Just chill out a second Elizabeth and let the other person get a word in edgewise. Don’t just wait for them to stop speaking so you can hammer home your point again. Listen, ask questions for clarity and THEN respond. ┬áStop assuming you know everything.

Book Review Crucial Conversations

In Conclusion

This book is worth a re-read after some time has passed and I’ve made an effort to implement the tactics above. I do think this is a good book to read as a team and then explain to each other how you can use the tools in real estate to help more people.


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