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Do you ever get concerned about having one of those important discussions, those crucial conversations that can have a devastating impact on your life if not handled properly or if they don't go so well? Have you ever experienced how uncomfortable people can feel at the beginning of these conversations?  

Would you like to learn how to be more successful at having these discussions and also dramatically increase the possibility that everyone will be happy with the end results? Using the simple checklist offered here can help reduce your nervousness and make your crucial conversations much more satisfying.

Most of us lack effective communication skills. We don’t learn these skills in school, and we don’t learn these skills at home. This is unfortunate because, understanding these techniques for effective communication can be vital for having successful relationships in life.

Preparation for Effective Conversations  

We figured it would make life a lot easier if there was a formula for having a more satisfying outcome when it came to these difficult conversations. So, we’ve developed the following checklist to help you have successful conversation and learn more effective negotiation skills.  

Regardless of the situation, whenever you are faced with having a very important conversation, we promise it will go much more smoothly if you follow the tips in this checklist.    

The Crucial Conversations Checklist  

___ Create a Conscious Intention
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all have intentions when it comes to having important conversations. It's difficult to disguise your intentions and others are often able to sense them, even if they are unspoken. This can affect the foundation of your conversations.  

Before beginning an important conversation, decide what your intention truly is. Create a clear understanding of what’s important you, and try to determine what values are represented by your intention.  

Ahead of the conversation, take a moment to remind yourself about your intention. This will help you stay focused on the true importance of the conversation and ultimately make the talk more satisfying for all parties.

___ Core Concerns
Reflect on any concerns you may hold about having the conversation.  You may be worried that the other person is unwilling to have this discussion, or making things worse by bringing up these issues. It is important to really examine your own underlying concerns.  

If your discussion is about conflict surrounding parenting styles, managing money, or decisions about where you will live, these can be difficult topics that need to be addressed honestly but carefully.

Many times, your fear can be interpreted as anger or irritation by the other person.  When you begin the conversation by talk about your fears and underlying apprehension, you can put the other person at ease by assuring they understand what your real concerns are. This can make the other person more willing to have these difficult discussions.

___ Get on the Same Page
At the very start of any important conversation, identify the underlying reason for the conversation. Outlining the specific outcomes you hope for can help keep the conversation on track and make it easier to resolve whatever issues you are addressing.  

Speak about actual events, rather than hypothetical situations or generalizations This is essential for effective communication.  

Both parties should always avoid judging the other person, name calling, or using negative labels to describe the other person.

___ Only as Many Words as You Need
During any conversation, it is critical to use enough words to be clear, but not so many words that they blur the lines and complicates the issues. Try to stick to one subject, or one aspect of the situation at a time until you‘re able to get some resolution. Only then is it time to move on to the next item.

Offer the other person a sketch rather than an oil painting. Let them ask you for more details as they need them. Too much talking can result in getting off-track and may prevent anything from getting accomplished.

___ More Intention
Somewhere early on in your conversation tell the other person the actual intention you identified by doing the item at the beginning of the checklist. This can help to clarify the issues and speed resolution.  

Remind the other person about your intention anytime that the conversation isn’t going the way you’d like or anyone starts feeling tense.

___Establish Understanding
Ask the other person what is important to them and what outcomes they hope for as a result of the discussion.  Helping them to identify their own intentions will help make your conversation more effective and more successful.  

Be sure to not push your own opinions into theirs, instead keep exploring what’s important to them and tell you can truly identify their intentions.

Once the issues have been thoroughly discussed and you‘re confident you know each other’s intention and desired outcomes, only then is it time to brainstorm ideas that will help you both find resolution in the situation.  

Consider all points of view, and make sure that both parties have reached an agreement about solutions that won’t give anyone feeling resentful later on.

___Agreement Making
when you reach this point in the conversation, both parties need to decide who is prepared to take the specific actions needed to implement the strategies you have identified as solutions.  

Both parties need to be satisfied with the conclusions you’ve reached, the actions that need to be taken, and that the overall strategy will in fact provide and satisfactory solution to the issues at hand. Your agreements need to include a specific time frame about when the actions will be completed and who will complete them.

___Follow Up
Arrange a future time to follow up on the discussion. Make sure that you both check in to see how things are progressing.  

Wait until there is a problem and you’ve waited too long.  When you check in with each other, be sure to make any adjustments needed to keep your previous agreements on track.

More Applications for Using the Conversation Checklist  

At the end of any crucial conversation, make sure you take some time to reflect on how things went. If things went well, then relax and sit back, and celebrate your new communication skills.  

If things did not go so well, then this is the perfect time to identify what went wrong and what could be changed next time to eliminate the remaining barriers to effective communication.  

This is the perfect time to use this checklist for this review. Did you include each item on the lists in your conversation? Think about any points you may have missed, or those points that perhaps could have used some more attention.

Please understand, effective communication is as much art as it is science.  Practice makes perfect, and everyone could stand to use a little more practice at improving their communication skills.

If you practice using the Crucial Conversations Checklist before each of your important conversations, we guarantee you’ll experience greater success in creating the results you want.

Learn More  

Understanding how to have satisfying conversations is only one part of having healthy relationships. If you are ready to address other areas of your relationship and discover more tips for tackling difficult topics and developing happy
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Get practical tips and supportive advice for developing the healthy, happy relationships you want and deserve.

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