The Latest

How to Listen Actively

How to Listen Actively

Dear Crucial Skills, My husband and I have had a communication problem for years—due, I think, to our different communication styles. I crave active conversations, yet he prefers I remain silent and listen any time he has an issue he wants to tell me about. When I begin to talk during what I...


How to Argue Civilly

How to Argue Civilly

Dear Joseph, My father often peppers his speech with declarations like “Obama is a Marxist” or “Eighty percent of Americans don’t pay taxes.” I can sometimes leave the conversation and look up details of what he calls “facts,” but in the moment I don’t have any tangible information; just...


Start With Heart, and Finish With Heart, Too

Start With Heart, and Finish With Heart, Too

Dear Emily, I like to think of myself as someone who knows how to have crucial conversations. I’ve read Crucial Conversations, attended the training, and recently, I became a certified trainer for my organization. However, I can never seem to make headway with my teenage daughter. We...


3 Skills For Getting the Most From Your Vacation

3 Skills For Getting the Most From Your Vacation

Dear Crucial Skills, I’m back to work after returning from our family’s annual week-long summer trip. I’ve got to be honest, as much as I love getting away with my family, I dread returning to what piles up in my absence. I stress during vacation when I should be relaxing and enjoying time with...


How to Get Over a Grudge

How to Get Over a Grudge

Dear Crucial Skills, I was in a business relationship where it became apparent that the managing partner no longer saw my contributions as valuable. I had watched this partner gun for others in the past and “transition” them out of the company. Now her sights were set on me. So, before things...


The Painful Truth about Silence and Violence

The Painful Truth about Silence and Violence

Dear Crucial Skills, I took the Style Under Stress test in the Crucial Conversations book during a study class at my church. I was upset and offended that I was classified as “violent” in my communications. Everyone else in the class tended more toward “silence.” We concluded that “silence”...


The Perfect Inheritance

The Perfect Inheritance

In September of 1951, when I headed to grade school for the very first time, my mother made an important decision. Since I was now old enough to travel the bogs, trails, and back alleys of Bellingham, Washington (all in an effort to learn the three Rs of elementary school), I was certainly...


When Your Boss Suffers From Short-term Memory Loss

When Your Boss Suffers From Short-term Memory Loss

Dear Crucial Skills, Short of writing down every word, how do you communicate with a boss who repeatedly gives input or instruction “on the fly,” but then later cannot recall what he approved or instructed? Often this input comes up rapidly or in response to other issues. Signed,Dealing...


How to Handle In-box Craziness

How to Handle In-box Craziness

Dear Crucial Skills, I’ve heard of people who get their inbox to zero. That seems crazy to me. I can’t imagine that ever being a reality for me. I have a huge backlog of over 500 emails and each day I get at least 50-100 new ones. How can having zero emails be realistic in this age of...


How to Tame Your Temper

How to Tame Your Temper

Dear Crucial Skills, Help! I have a temper. I lose it in public and community meetings. I say bitter things and make accusations that I come to regret. It’s not that I have my facts wrong. It’s that I get that burning, buzzing rage that causes me to state my facts in fury. My wife says I...


The Anatomy of an Apology

The Anatomy of an Apology

Dear Crucial Skills, I recently did something hurtful to a family member. Shortly afterward, I said I was sorry but the person didn’t seem to accept my apology. I’ve tried to reach out but they are giving me a bit of a “cold shoulder.” They still seem bugged about what I did. I feel like I’ve...


Good Golly Miss Molly

Good Golly Miss Molly

Throughout my teenage years, I worked for my mom and dad painting an eighty-year-old boarding house they had purchased. It was a sprawling, artless, clapboard building that hadn’t been given much attention for decades, so it took me several summers to finish the job. It was like painting a...