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Great Reads for Grown Ups: Mr. Brandon Recommends Crucial Conversations

photo (11)It’s important that children see the adults in their lives reading.  Sometimes that means adults sharing their children’s books, but it also means that children should see adults reading adult books. Children need to see adults reading for professional growth and development, reading to improve their personal lives, reading to learn something new, reading for the shear pleasure of reading.  They need to know that the adults in their lives value reading and spend time immersed in text.  When children see adults reading, they can see the future value of the skills they are learning today.

This month, New Hope’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Gil Brandon, recommends a book he recently read for both personal and professional growth — Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

Mr. Brandon writes:

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Dr. Rob Evans sparked Mr. Brandon’s interest in developing “collegial” skills.

Last fall, I attended the TAIS Biennial Conference held here in Memphis at fellow MAIS schools, Hutchinson and Memphis University School. During one of the keynotes, Dr. Rob Evans threw out the idea of the difference in congeniality and collegiality. To paraphrase (at least as I heard him), he said that at most schools faculty and staff believe we are “collegial” until things get heated or pressed. At that point, we realize we are more “congenial” than “collegial.” He went on to talk about the difference in those terms which is a topic for another blog post.  Dr. Evans talk stuck with me throughout the fall and challenged me to consider some ways that we can be collegial – not merely congenial. One practical area that related to this idea of collegiality is communication – especially challenging communication.

That background is a long introduction to this recommended book, Crucial Conversations.

For some, a topic such as this may be second nature. However, for me, the book engaged, informed, and most of all gave me categories to consider when entering a crucial time of dialogue. The tools this book offers apply to many types of conversations and relationships, including marriage, family, business, and other areas where communication is essential.  Really, the tools in the book apply any time decisions are being made and communication is required.

9780071771320_p0_v1_s260x420Without giving away the ending, there are a couple of small tidbits that were interesting. First, the authors talked about creating safe environments when entering into a crucial conversation. This does not have as much to do with a place as it does with how the conversation is framed. For example, when beginning a potentially difficult dialogue, simply asking permission to speak into the matter will lower the anxiety between folks. Second, when entering a crucial conversation, consider how you approach the conversation. This is important as YOU are the only one that YOU can control. For example, you really cannot stop someone that wants to yell at you. However, you have a choice whether you yell at another person or stay engaged in a tense conversation.

One area that I believe enhances the authors’ wisdom is an understanding of forgiveness and being forgiven. While not specifically mentioned by the authors, it may be these core Christian beliefs are assumed. Nonetheless, it certainly strengthens such a topic and gives a foundation that will help a crucial conversation be successful.

At the end of the day, I believe this book is filled with great tools to help us work toward collegiality.