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Penn State University Business Crucial Conversations Paper

Penn State University Business Crucial Conversations Paper


How to facilitate Crucial Conversations Assessment

The purpose of the Communications Theory Assessment is to focus on relevant research, theory, and models, to find direct application to your working environment. This assessment prompts research, reflection, and application in order to solve real world challenges using strategic and effective communication theory.

A crucial conversation is a discussion between two or more people where:

    • Opinions may differ
    • Emotions may run strong
    • The stakes are high and the outcome significantly impacts their lives and there is significant risk of negative consequences

In high-stakes conversations we need to be mindful of every aspect involved in the communication, from thoughts, emotions, words, voices, facial expressions, body language to behaviors.

Managing crucial conversations is essential to effective communications personally and professionally. Researchers Patterson & Grenny et al (2011) developed Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High as a tool and foundational curriculum for effective and strategic communications. The book was written in 2011, and quickly rose to the New York Times and Washington Post bestsellers. It has become a keystone in Learning & Development corporate training, nonprofit and public sector, higher education, K12 teacher leadership, and more. Reading this foundational text and leveraging its tools in your own workplace will elevate communications and assist in strategic problem solving.

When we face crucial conversations, we can do one of three things: We can avoid them, we can face them and handle them poorly, or we can face them and handle them well. Ironically, the more crucial the conversation, the less likely we are to handle it well. We often hold things inside by going silent until we can take it no longer—and then we drop a bomb. In short, we move between silence and violence—we either don’t handle the conversation, or don’t handle it well. We may not become physically violent, but we do attack others’ ideas and feelings.

In this activity you will be introduced to Crucial Conversations and begin to evaluate how to best facilitate Crucial Conversations. Navigating difficult conversations effectively harnesses problem solving at a collective level, with measurable improvement to your institution or organization. Read chapters 1-3, then consider any application and implication in your current (or future) workplace, focusing on key takeaways as they may apply (sharing any challenges, growth opportunities, or successes, as they may align).

Items for Submission

    1. Start with Heart
    2. Safe Spaces
    3. Your Stories and Paths
    4. Book Dainton, M., & Zelley, E. D. (2019).
      Applying communication theory for professional life: A practical introduction.
      Los Angeles: SAGE.
      ISBN-13: 978-1506315478; ISBN-10:

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