Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

General Description (from
“Crucial” conversations are interpersonal exchanges at work or at home that we dread having but know we cannot avoid. How do you say what needs to be said while avoiding an argument with a boss, child, or relationship partner? Crucial Conversationsoffers readers a proven seven-point strategy for achieving their goals in all those emotionally, psychologically, or legally charged situations that can arise in their professional and personal lives. Based on the authors’ highly popular DialogueSmart training seminars, the techniques are geared toward getting people to lower their defenses, creating mutual respect and understanding, increasing emotional safety, and encouraging freedom of expression. Among other things, readers also learn about the four main factors that characterize crucial conversations, and they get a powerful six-minute mastery technique that prepares them to work through any high impact situation with confidence.

Why the President Should Read This Book
Can you imagine a President who is afraid to bring up uncomfortable topics with his peers, subordinates, or the nation? After all, that’s pretty much what the President does day in and day out is deal with uncomfortable topics. But if he holds back and doesn’t say everything he wants to say in a speech to the nation, or avoids talking to the military, or subconsciously makes himself forget something he wanted to bring up with Britain’s PM, how does that affect our country and the world? What if he refuses to communicate well with…, let’s say, the executives of an oil company that just had a major spill in the Gulf of Mexico? How big could that mess get?

If the job of the military is primarily to kill people and break things, then the job of the President is largely to communicate. Communication skills go well beyond giving a good speech, it’s the day to day interactions that add up to major policy decisions that impact the everyday lives of ordinary Americans, not to mention other people around the world.

Crucial Conversations is a book about communication skills. It is not so much a book about changing yourself, like Leadership and Self-Deception, which I would say it a much more critical book for the President to read, rather it is a lower-priority book that tells you how to say what you need to say once your heart is in the right place. It is the nuts and bolts of of effective conversation when things really matter, and when things are tough. And generally when things really matter, the conversations are tough. Tough to have, and tough to manage. But for the President, there is no option to hold back and be shy because lives depend on him doing the best job he possibly can.

Personal Notes
If you had a co-worker with bad body odor, I mean really, really bad BO, and it was a problem in the workplace, or with clients, would you be able to talk with them about it? If the very thought makes you sweat, then you’d do well to read this book. Of course you need to have the right intent and treat that person like a human being, and this book doesn’t focus on that, but if you have the right intent/attitude and just don’t know exactly how to say things, this book is exactly what you need.