OPD Course Spotlight – Crucial Conversations

Written by MSU HR Organization and Professional Development

Problem: We feel stuck or are not achieving what we want in a variety of areas, ranging from awkward or failing relationships to dysfunctional teams to cost, quality, or safety problems at work.

Solution: Learn how to identify the crucial conversations that are the key to organizational, team, and interpersonal success.

Crucial Conversations, a two-day live, online course from HR Organization and Professional Development (OPD), is currently open for registration in the EBS Portal. Employees may use available educational assistance funds to pay for this program.

Who can benefit from Crucial Conversations? Frankly…everyone.

MSU HR Senior Learning and Organization Development Specialist and Crucial Conversations instructor, Kathie Elliott, explains, “Crucial Conversations is for anyone who would like to understand first how our own viewpoint can make an issue seem worse than it is, then use a flexible template for holding results-oriented and respectful conversations with others.”

Attend OPD’s Crucial Conversations to learn the following skills and principles:

  • Identify the right problem to hold the right conversation.
  • Stay focused on what you really want when motives degrade.
  • Take control of your emotions instead of losing your cool.
  • Speak persuasively, not abrasively.
  • Watch for signs that safety is at risk and make it safe to talk.
  • Help others into dialogue when they’re feeling hurt, scared, or defensive.
  • Go from talking to getting results.

Whenever you’re not getting the results you want, it’s likely an important conversation either hasn’t happened or hasn’t been handled well. At the heart of healthy and high-performance organizations are people willing and able to hold crucial conversations.

So, what makes a conversation crucial? Three elements: strong emotions, high stakes, and opposing opinions.

Image of a triangle with the words "crucial conversations" in the center. On each side is a phrase: opposing opinions, strong emotions, and high stakes.

When conversations turn crucial, people tend to follow one of two ineffective paths: they either speak directly and abrasively to get the results they want but harm relationships, or they remain silent with the hope of preserving relationships only to sacrifice results. Crucial Conversations, grounded in decades of social science research, gives you powerful skills to step into disagreement—rather than over or around it—and turn disagreement into dialogue for improved relationships and results.

A recent Crucial Conversations participant shares, “The class was helpful because it gives a step-by-step way to communicate effectively that does not leave any room for ambiguity. I learned that it is all I can do to get out my side of the story, but it is crucial to get feedback from the other side so you can meet in the middle somewhere.”

Ready to learn the tools for promoting open, honest dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics? Register for an upcoming Crucial Conversations session in the EBS Portal, or contact prodev@hr.msu.edu for additional information.

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