Conversations that Matter

Dialogue is such a lost art in today’s world of technology, and yet is probably one of the most important skills needed to bring about change. My students have trouble with conversations on a daily basis, but so do I. Relegated to silence is one of my pastimes and now I see how flawed that strategy is to have productive, and crucial conversations. As I read the book Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high, I become more and more aware of all of the opportunities that have been lost over the years to make a meaningful and long-lasting change, and yet I made a ‘fools choice’ instead (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzler, 2012).


As the graphic shows; crucial conversations involve high stakes, varying opinions, and strong emotions. We have three choices if we are confronted with a crucial conversation. We can avoid it, handle it poorly or handle it well. Of course, everyone would just say; I will just handle it well. The problem is that most people handle them not just poorly, but we tend to be at our worst. Why is that? If we truly want to be a leader of change, then we need to make sure we can focus on ourselves first and allow for personal growth before pointing fingers at others that need to change.

During a crucial conversation you should follow the 8-step process as follows (click the graphic below):

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My innovation plan is going to require a major crucial conversation with my Assistant Superintendent about the requirements and possible path of the blended learning model in my classroom. My ability to talk candidly with her is going to be key to getting my point across and could possibly be the difference in what her decision is and how it will affect my classroom implementation. I will need to make sure I state my path, but at the same listen to her point of view as well. No matter the outcome of this dialogue, I need to be aware of the different aspects of being that leader of change and how I should focus my efforts on my own goals and actions.

I have enjoyed the synergy that has been apparent as I have become more familiar with the influencer model, 4DX plan and crucial conversations process. It is very obvious that all of these can be a plan of action in being part of the organizational change needed to help our students become true lifelong learners. I do not claim to be an expert by any means yet so this process will be a great example of me being willing to be a lifelong learner and leader myself.


Camp, J. (2010, November 10). Friedman’s theory of differentiated leadership made simple {Video file}. Retrieved from

Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high (2nd ed). Columbus, OH: McGraw Hill.​

What is a crucial conversation? [Graphic]. (2018, Apr). Retrieved from

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