Most evenings in my college days several fraternity brothers would gather in my room for an evening cocktail to unwind while watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson – yes I have dated myself. It was an enjoyable ritual – one that was relaxing where we would share a laugh or gripe about the day we just finished up. Often Johnny would have someone fill in for him, one of a few comedians he had on his show often as guest. Of those he entrusted with the job was Joan Rivers whose catch phrase “Can we talk?” would often lead into a well planned joke, or deep discussion – which still ended in a laugh. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Ms. Rivers and her always coined phrase in our last VALOR seminar.
While in Washington DC and Northern Virginia we had the opportunity to visit with some folks at the American Farm Bureau Federation, among these was Jill Casten who joined the Farm Bureau in September of 2010 as the Director of Training and Development. She lead us in a workshop practicing skills discussed in the book “Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High”, by Kerry Patterson , Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler which was read by our group.
“Crucial Conversations” is not only a book but a practice that has enabled people in difficult situations to be able to move forward by using a few simple rules. Jill had the VALOR participants use role play to practice some of these skills. Like a good trainer should, Jill not only had us learning but laughing, always a wonderful way to gain knowledge and skills. Some key points you will take away from the book and use when dealing in those hard conversations are –
- Prepare for high-impact situations with a six-minute mastery technique
- Make it safe to talk about almost anything
- Be persuasive, not abrasive
- Keep listening when others blow up or clam up
- Turn crucial conversations into the action and results you want
So try to remember these next time you find yourself in a crucial conversation, and maybe even lead in with “Can we talk?”