Last week, I completed the last of the Crucial Conversations Training where Lisa reminded us to keep practicing. Fortunately, both my personal and work life provide plenty of opportunity so I am not too worried about practicing.
However another important aspect of learning these skills is observing others. The seminar provided some great scenarios, but I have found another source for video scenarios…reality TV and sitcoms. A lot of the weirder conflicts are actually results of pitfalls discussed in the seminar like making up a story before you find out all the facts or not being sincere. I can now diagnose problems as they arise.
In fact there was a fascinating multi-episode arc from a Bravo TV series where two women (I’ll call them B & K) got into a terrible conflict because each was making assumptions about what the other was saying. It wasn’t just the ladies involved making assumptions either, but the entire Internet leaving comments all over entertainment Web sites basically saying how they couldn’t believe that K could be such a b*tch (villain story anyone?)
However it wasn’t until the reunion episode when another women (I’ll call her A) actually practiced Crucial Conversation skills (summarizing each person) that all of a sudden people realized that 1) K didn’t mean what we thought she meant and that 2) B wasn’t a perfect angel. Hmmm. Another insight was that although a lot of fans weren’t so thrilled with A…darn it she did make a lot of sense here. Maybe she’s not as bad as we thought? It is amazing how often we WANT to tell ourselves a victim or villain story. It can be very entertaining, but also very destructive (I know…I’ve been the storyteller).
Of course the irony is that if all the people on reality TV really began to practice Crucial Conversations, the ratings would drop like a rock because it would get a lot quieter. However boredom in my personal life is a risk I’m willing to take…but I hope reality TV doesn’t catch up too soon. I still need it as a real-world lab experiment.