I have read several helpful books while working through the Digital Learning and Leading program, but one recent book, Crucial conversations, Tools for talking when stakes are high, has helped alleviate some of the fears I have about having tough conversations with my work colleagues about my blended learning station innovation plan. I have already spoken to my school administration about my plan and have been given an enthusiastic green light! However, I will also need to present and discuss my plan with my colleagues. I work with teachers who range from first years to seasoned veterans and the stakes are high for the conversations surrounding my plans. If they go well, I can launch my blended learning stations with the support of my colleagues, if not then I may fail before I even get started.
These conversations with my colleagues are likely to become crucial conversations because stakes are high, opinions may differ, there are strong emotions involved, and the outcome will have a major impact on those involved. In the book, the authors Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, advise to start with heart. In order to start a successful dialogue, I will need to begin by asking three questions. What do I want for myself, what do I want for the relationship, and what do I want for others? Having a clear answer to these, going into these crucial conversations will help.
I’ll also need to look for signs that I am heading into a crucial conversation. If those involved in the discussion start to clam up (silence) or get defensive (violence) I am entering into a crucial conversation. If the dialogue stops, I will need to help make it safe for people to talk freely and add to the “pool of shared meaning”.
Another huge part of making these crucial conversations successful is learning to master my stories. If I move into silence or violence in the conversation, am I there because of a story I told myself. I will need to step back and make sure that I am looking at the facts that others in the discussion are presenting and not making myself a victim or making them a villain when we disagree.
This process will take practice and time to get it right before entering into the crucial conversations that I must have down the road for my innovation plan. Thankfully, these are skills I can practice often because crucial conversations happen all the time in our lives. The better I become at recognizing those crucial conversations, setting up my intentions, and creating a safe place for meaningful dialogue to take place, the better off I will be when those conversations come up as I launch my innovation plan.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw-Hill.