Lets start this blog out with a riddle.

Water is to fish, as air is to birds, as _____ are to people.

If you hadn’t guessed it the ____ is words. My father would share this riddle and meaning with me several times as he mentored me in my first business. The explanation is that fish use water to manipulate their direction, a bird uses air to soar and people use words to determine and make their success in life. Life as it were is a conversation. He would then follow up with in business, 15% of sales is product knowledge, 85% is people knowledge.

Given how critical conversation is to our success I thought I would touch on something that has been termed crucial conversations.

When was the last time you had a crucial conversation? You know, the kind of conversation where you feel a knot in your stomach before the conversation starts. Conflict for many people is very difficult to deal with, and I have seen all kinds of reactions to a crucial conversation. Some people shut down, stop talking and just want it to end. They let this build up, and at some point just disengage from the relationship. Other people overreact, counting on the best defense in an offense strategy and hope to win the battle by attacking early.

If you have ever found yourself in a position where you know you need to have that important conversation with a business associate, friend of family member I highly recommend you consider reading a book called Crucial Conversations by a company called Vital Smarts. This book was recommended to me by a good friend from business school and it has provided some great advice on one of the most important aspects of our life, conversation.

While the book is a must read for any executive, I would like to point out that one of the most important things the book goes into is the art of listening. Covey does a great job of defining this as seeking first to understand then be understood. Listening is certainly more than just hearing what someone is saying. It is interpreting body language, posture, stance, tone to let you know what someone is saying before they even say it. I have heard it said that 80% of your conversation should be listening. If you would like to see how not to have a conversation at a dinner party, check out Brian Regan here in one of the funniest skits I have ever seen.

If any of you have some good material to help us improve our ability to communicate please feel to provide them as resources in the form of a comment.

  1. Caralee L. Valdez Said,

    I enjoy your blog and especially enjoyed this post and your Dad’s saying. Very wise man I’d say. We would all do well to work on our words and our listening. Definitely an area I could improve in. I’ll check out the book.

  2. admin Said,

    Thanks Caralee. My Father has been a real inspiration in business. I will make sure to draw from a few more of his gems in the future.

  3. Five Star Painting Franchise » Self-Help Books Said,

    […] Crucial Conversation is a wonderful self-help book that touches base with how critical conversation is to our success. To read more about this, click here. […]

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