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Crucial Conversations

Dialogue Smart people are people who have mastered the skills of Crucial Conversations. See how and why Crucial Conversations can improve your organizational vitality, quality, productivity and your bottom line. Descriptions, case studies, Industry Leaders" comments. Note: This program is now being marketed under two names: DialogueSmarts and Crucial Conversations. They are the same programs.

This program shares about 75 to 80 percent of content with the Path of Dialogue, but has been modified, updated and improved to make the content more clear and the examples more relevant. Plus, this now contains Expert Video and an overview of program on either a CD or audio tape for review, both conducted by one or more of the authors.


What Crucial Conversations Teach

Case Studies

What Industry Leaders are Saying

Are You Dialogue Smart?

Is it better to be honest or to be nice?

Is it more important to keep friends or get results?

When it matters most, are you "brutally honest," saying what needs to be said, or do you sidestep Crucial Conversations, hoping to avoid uncomfortable situations?

What if we told you that you don't have to choose one or the other?

Industry Leaders confirm If you become dialogue smart With DialogueSmarts, you can drive results while building and maintaining relationships, and twenty years of research with thousands of groups and individuals has convinced us that mastering Crucial Conversations is the key to personal and organizational vitality.

For example, have you or your organization ever had difficulty with Crucial Conversations in situations such as these:

  • Disagreeing with the boss.
  • Asking for a raise.
  • Confronting someone who has let you down.
  • Disagreeing when it’s unpopular to do so.
  • Admitting you don’t have the skills to carry out a task or assignment.
  • Saying no.
  • Talking with a loved one about habits that annoy you or differences in basic beliefs or values.
  • Challenging a peer who disappoints or undermines you.
  • Giving feedback to a poor performer.
  • Talking with leaders who don’t “walk the talk”.

Every team and every organization has problems. The difference between the best (the Dialogue Smart) and the merely good is not how many problems they have, but whether or not they candidly discuss and resolve them. The difference is in how they handle the Crucial Conversations that are the key to resolving their problems.

A crucial conversation involves high stakes issues, where there are strong emotions and opposing opinions. These are the most important conversations we face. If we handle them well, problems get resolved. If we handle them poorly, results suffer.

Our Solution

During the past 20 years we have surveyed over 20,000 people to identify the Dialogue Smart. These are gifted individuals at all levels in organizations who have found a way to talk about even the toughest subjects in ways that get results. These savvy people are identified by their peers as having extraordinary influence in their organizations. Since so many of them were not senior executives, we wondered what accounted for their influence. So we followed them around.

It turned out that the differences between the Dialogue Smart and the rest of the pack didn’t show up until we watched them in Crucial Conversations. We watched them routinely and skillfully raise and resolve subjects that caused others to run for cover. Topics that only the “brutally honest” raised, they discussed honestly without being brutal. Somehow, while others moved to some form of silence or violence, the Dialogue Smart got to dialogue—a free flow of meaning—around even the riskiest of topics.

So we watched. We took notes. We experimented. The result is a set of powerful, learnable skills we call DialogueSmarts.

Past clients who have taught and fostered these skills in their organizations have achieved measurable, sustainable and dramatic improvements in productivity, quality, employee satisfaction, teamwork, pace of change, and many other critical indicators.

We believe you can predict individual, team, and organizational success in as few as six minutes.

Crucial Conversations are the lever that moves the world.

What are Crucial Conversations, and why do they matter so much?

How can six minutes make a huge difference?

What happens when we muff a Crucial Conversation?

Why do we typically do the worst when it matters most?

How to identify the Crucial Conversations that matter most to you.

Background on the Dialogue Smart: The Skills for Mastering Crucial Conversations

  • The Seven Principles of the Dialogue Smart.
  • What is dialogue?
  • Who are the Dialogue Smart?
  • Why do the Dialogue Smart succeed in conversations that terrify and baffle the rest of us?
  • What do they do that we don’t do?
  • How did we find the Dialogue Smart and learn their skills.

What Crucial Conversations or DialogueSmarts Teaches--Seven Principles:

Start with Heart: How to Work on Me First, Us Second.

  • Dialogue requires first a change of heart, and second a change of behavior.
  • How to catch motives that move you from dialogue toward silence or violence.
  • How to spot the thoughts that sap your desire to get to dialogue.

Learn to Look: How to See When Safety Is At Risk

  • If you learn to look at safety, you can fix what goes wrong in almost any conversation.
  • What happens to our ability to spot problems during Crucial Conversations?
  • Three skills that help you catch safety problems before they destroy dialogue.

Make it Safe: How to Increase Candor While Decreasing Defensiveness

  • The Key to Candor—If you step out of a conversation and build enough safety, you can talk about anything.
  • Mutual Purpose—it isn’t what you say but why others think you’re saying it that drives others to silence or violence.
  • Mutual Respect—it isn’t what you say but what others think you mean that damages dialogue.
  • Three safety-building skills for increasing candor while decreasing hostility and defensiveness.

Master My Stories: How to Manage Emotions that Destroy Dialogue

  • Act on your emotions or you’ll become a victim of them.
  • How to get to the root of emotions that are driving you to silence or violence.
  • How to spot the three “clever stories” that makes us feel good about doing bad while simultaneously undermining our own results.
  • How to create emotions that take us to dialogue.

STATE My Path: How to Speak Persuasively, Not Abrasively

  • The Delicate Balance—the heart of sharing risky meaning is balancing confidence and humility.
  • How to share volatile, controversial, and sensitive opinions while minimizing defensiveness.

Explore Others’ Paths: How to Power Up Your Listening

  • The heart of exploring other’s risky views involves curiosity, respect and patience.
  • How to make it safe for others to share anything.
  • How to make it safe for you to hear anything.

Move to Action: How to Make Decisions and Improve Accountability.

  • How you end a conversation leads to either results or upsets.
  • How to avoid the agony of over-involvement and the insult of under-involvement.
  • How to avoid déjà vu dialogues—lots of talk, no action, talk again.

Then, there's more:

  • How to use DialogueSmarts in the toughest of circumstances.
  • How do you say things that could really insult others?
  • How do you deal with a conversation that never ends?
  • What special issues do you face in Crucial Conversations with loved ones?
  • How do you give tough feedback to a boss?
  • How do you deal with an incompetent peer?

Case Studies

A Manufacturing Firm Goes for Six Sigma

A large manufacturing firm was working hard to implement Six Sigma processes and tools in their organization. International competition was forcing them to make dramatic improvements in quality and productivity just to stay alive. Leaders’ vision was not just survival, but to build a vital, nimble, competitive organization for the future.

Over an 18-month period of time, teams that used both Six Sigma and DialogueSmarts skills made 10% or greater improvements in quality, rework and productivity. Those who used only Six Sigma processes and tools made no measurable improvement.

The two Crucial Conversations that were key to making continuous improvement and Six Sigma a part of the culture were:

  • Team members’ speaking candidly with their direct supervisor about their concerns and ideas.
  • Supervisors speaking candidly up the management hierarchy about their concerns and ideas.

The bottom line: When these two Crucial Conversations improved, everything improved. When these conversations did not improve, improvement stalled.

Quotes from Industry Leaders:

DialogueSmarts is one of the most powerful and useful tools I have found. Chronic communication errors are at the root of so many problems in daily life. I have seen breakthroughs with people with whom all other efforts have failed." Michael Miller, Director, AT&T

"The skills learned in DialogueSmarts have produced immediate and impactful results in the overall working relationships at all levels in our organization." Russ Ford, Vice President Operations, Lockheed Martin

"DialogueSmarts has been extremely popular, and by every measure successful. In addition to rich anecdotal evidence, we have measured significant improvement in twenty-two categories covered in our annual employee opinion survey…at a price that's affordable." Steve Terry, Director, Intermountain Health Care University


Leaders' Materials (Leaders' Guide, video examples, expert video, cards): $650 USD

Participant Material ( including all lessons, cards and the new Crucial Conversations book just published by McGraw-Hill for desk reference. $150 USD

Contact us for more information by calling us at (866) 230-3131 or by filling out the form below. We will get back to you as quickly as possible.

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