The title of this book, Fierce Conversations, might give you the impression that the author is advising you to stubbornly and aggressively argue your point to get ahead in life, but Fierce Conversations is not that at all. This excellent book is a primer on how to bring your authentic self to every conversation—and to trust that your passion for truthful, trust-building communication will add value to every relationship in your life.
"While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person. It could be. Participate as if it matters. It does." –Susan Scott
Scott presents six principles of fierce conversations:
- Master the courage to interrogate reality
- Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real
- Be here, prepared to be nowhere else
- Tackle your toughest challenge today
- Obey your instincts
- Let silence do the heavy lifting
Throughout the book, Scott provides anecdotes and clear examples of constructive communication skills as well as common mistakes we make when attempting hard conversations. For example, she lists the five common errors managers make in confronting employees:
Error 1: So, How’s It Going?
Openings like this are disrespectful and dishonest. Plus, you’re not fooling anyone. Most of us can smell hidden agendas a mile away, and we don’t like them.
Error 2: The Oreo Cookie
This is when you begin a confrontation with a compliment, then slip in the real message – the cream filing – then tidy up with another complement or some words of encouragement.
Error 3: Too Many Pillows
A third approach is to soften the message. The trouble is, sometimes we put so many pillows around a message that the message gets lost altogether. Replace pillows with clear requests.
Error 4: Writing the Script
When we script what others will say and do prior to a conversation, we can be so locked into the responses we’re expecting that when someone responds differently, we do not notice.
Error 5: Machine Gun Nelly
This individual is so terrorized by the notion of confrontation that he gets the adrenaline flowing, then runs into the room and hurls the message with vitriol or vengeance.
This book is especially powerful for anyone who has learned to “avoid conflict” by remaining silent in intense conversations where their truthful contribution could actually help to transform the relationship. Much of the book’s focus is on communicating in the work environment, but at its core, Fierce Conversations is about communicating more effectively in all aspects of your life, both at work and at home.