One observation is that all successful leaders do this one thing.
Their personalities may be different.
Their vision will be tailored to their industry.
Even values will be different.
But the key differentiator between good leaders and GREAT leaders is their ability to handle “Crucial Conversations”.
Many years ago, I was 28 and trying to prove himself. I confronted someone about a small thing. But I handled the conversation poorly. The small thing turned into a HUGE thing. I didn’t know how to use T.A.C.T. So this one area has been a massive growth area for me personally and professionally.
What are Crucial Conversations? You know when a conversation is turning “Crucial” when there are:
1. Opposing Opinions
2. Strong Emotions
3. High Stakes
So…how do you handle “Crucial Conversations”? That’s the key question. To answer, I am attempting to condense an entire book (called “Crucial Conversations”) into a few statements.
The best way to summarize is this: We must use T.A.C.T
Talk Facts. Share the facts, not your assumptions. Facts are least insulting and verifiable. Facts keep the conversation on the issue, not the person. Facts keep you focused and helps the other person keep focus also.
Avoid Assumptions. You and I typically know a narrow slice of facts, so our mind fills in the gaps with assumptions and “stories” about why the person did what they did or said what they said. We guess about their intentions. You and I will never handle conversations well if we speak from assumption rather than fact.
Collaborate. After finding out the facts, ask how you can help. Partner with them for performance. Rather than playing the role of an enemy in their eyes, you are offering to be their support, their friend, their advocate. This is servant leadership at it’s best – even when you’ve been wronged.
Talk Tentatively. If we address the conversation with a spirit of humility, our body language says “you can trust me.” However, if we come across direct and confrontative, we will shut them down before the conversation even starts.
Use T.A.C.T when conversations turn crucial. Use T.A.C.T to hunt the elephant in the room.
One thing about elephants in the room: if you don’t address them, they have a tendency to multiply.
Then you’re really screwed.