Crucial Conversations

Software Engineering
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Crucial Conversations

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  1. Crucial Conversations

    Slide 1 - Crucial Conversations

    • Tools for Talking when the Stakes are High
    • Create Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
    • Material originally from Crucial Conversations.
    • Material Produced by NCSU Software Engineering Faculty.
  2. The Problem

    Slide 2 - The Problem

    • A school example
    • A teammate hasn’t committed to your team repo in the last two weeks. He is cooperative during meetings, but is non-responsive the rest of the time, and always has some excuse.
    • He’s probably thinking that you and the rest of the team will do all the work for him and that he doesn’t care about his grade.
    • You confront him at the next meeting, give him a piece of your mind, and the situation escalates. He fails the course.
    • A work example
    • You’re working for a small startup of about a dozen people.
    • The founder has a vision for the product, but you think his plan for implementing it is flawed; it will take too long to implement a technology stack that doesn’t separate you from the competition.
    • You’re frustrated, but you keep your mouth shut. It’s his company, he can do what he wants, right? You’ll trudge through this until something better comes along.
  3. Crucial Conversation

    Slide 3 - Crucial Conversation

    • Definition: a discussion between two or more people where
    • Stakes are high
    • Opinions vary
    • Emotions run strong
    • Other examples:
    • Ending a relationship
    • Talking to a coworker who behaves offensively or makes suggestive comments
    • Asking a friend to repay a loan
    • Asking a roommate to move out
    • Confronting a loved one about a substance abuse problem
    • Giving an unfavorable performance review
    • Asking in-laws to quit interfering
    • Talking to a coworker about a personal hygiene problem
  4. Failures in Crucial Conversations

    Slide 4 - Failures in Crucial Conversations

    • You confront him at the next meeting, give him a piece of your mind, and the situation escalates. He fails the course.
    • Failure: Violence.
    • You keep your mouth shut. It’s his company, he can do what he wants, right? You’ll trudge through this until something better comes along.
    • Failure: Silence
    • Success in these discussions is an honest but respectful dialog.
    • It makes a difference: Notarius and Markman researched couples who:
    • Digress to threats and name calling
    • Reverted to silent fuming
    • Spoke honestly, openly, effectively
    • Successfully predicted relationship failure in a 10 year window with 90% accuracy
  5. How to Have Open, Honest Dialog

    Slide 5 - How to Have Open, Honest Dialog

    • It’s not obvious
    • Most people are really bad at this
    • These lectures (based on the book) will give you some tips for doing so effectively
    • Take a minute to think of how you normally would have handled the two examples. Then think of how you should handle them.