Crucial Communications

How to Best Conduct “Crucial Communications”


Dr. Monica Scamardo is an instructor with CIE’s Professional Development Center. She leads a valuable workshop called “Crucial Communication Strategies: When It Matters Most” to help workers stay focused and flexible when confronted with challenging personal interactions on the job. By utilizing the tools and techniques taught in this workshop, participants will be able to communicate with less emotion and build stronger working relationships.

Monica describes a crucial communication as “a strong disagreement between people or parties and the stakes are high. We fail at these conversations for two main reasons: we avoid them or the conversation escalates out of control because we get hijacked by our emotions.” She offers that one way to alleviate either of these failures is to approach such conversations as a process, occurring over time, rather than a one-time event.

“An important goal in a crucial communication should be to create dialogue which enables more perspectives to be heard, more information to be shared, and minimizes miscommunication,” says Monica. “A crucial communication can be about a problem, issue, expectation, etc. Its purpose is not about holding someone accountable—that is a confrontation.”

Monica offers the following tips taken from the workshop on how to best conduct a “crucial communication.”

  • Don’t wait until you can’t stand it anymore. Although you may be motivated to have the conversation when you are at a boiling point, consider that it may be more fueled by your feelings rather than by the facts, which doesn’t set the stage for a successful crucial communication.
  • Manage your emotions before they manage you. If your buttons are being pushed give some thought to who installed these buttons before you jump in, fired up with emotion. Consider that what is setting you off may be triggered from a past interaction or relationship—not the current person or situtation.
  • Present your facts as “conclusions” and ask for the other person’s conclusions. If you can demonstrate that you understand the other person’s perspective (you don’t have to agree to understand), in time they will be more likely to do the same for you. Take the high road.
  • If it’s an ongoing issue related to behavior or performance, consider having the communication when the issue is not happening. Most people won’t want to bring up a sore subject when it’s not happening, but let’s face it, there’s a lot less emotion around it when it’s not happening.
  • Consider what is at stake for the other party and why the communication is crucial to them. This will give you some important information that you can use as you are thinking through how the conversation might flow and how you can create the necessary dialogue.

The next “Crucial Communication Strategies” workshop is scheduled for August 19 and registration is now open. Sign up today to gain greater insight and further instruction around conducting crucial communications.


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