July 7, 2018books learning
My last “series” was about cryptocurrencies & the blockchain — since then I’ve launched 8x Protocol. Apart from nerding about the blockchain I’ve also been consistently reading (via Audible) for the past 1.5 years.
Before I was introduced to Audiobooks by a friend (thank you Rob Liu), I used to think books weren’t really important or, very ignorantly, a waste of time. It wasn’t until I read the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that I realised the amount of knowledge and wisdom one book contained. Since then I’ve managed to crunch through 36 books (according to my Goodreads account) which averages to roughly one book every 15 days. A lot of the time people ask me how I retain information from each book I read. The answer is not a lot. So why read them? Shouldn’t you spend more time retaining information?
Not exactly. For me, each book I read is used to shape my worldview and modify my mindset ever so slightly. If I can change the way I think about something in a meaningful way, my investment of spending 8–16 hours reading the book was 100% worth it. I’m not saying this is the right way, this is simply what I’ve found works for me :) A lot of the books I’ve read so far generally rally around the topics of autobiographies, psychology, business, tech, spirituality and self improvement. I’m in full admittance that this is a very narrow range of topics. I’d love to explore more fiction, art, music, writing and programming. Although my reading list ranks in order of the skill/wisdom/knowledge I need the most for my current situation in life. Without further ado, I present to you my take on Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler.
Growing up, I’ve always had an engineering/mathematical mindset. For me, machines and equations held the most power. Hard skills over soft skills any day. It wasn’t until the past few years as I went through high school, got in a relationship, started college (ish), worked in a team and now building a team that I learned the importance of soft skills. Although hard skills are extremely important to get things done, at the end of the day it’s people who know and can apply those skills. Not knowing how to be an effective communicator is essentially not being able to live/work with a magnitude of extremely smart, diverse and interesting people.
If I was to boil down the core principal I learned from Crucial Conversations, it’s not about the content which matters in a conversation, but the intent from which it’s said. Sounds super obvious, but in the heat of the moment it becomes too easy to forget about it. Biologically, us humans are flawed. We have emotional outbursts, prehistoric reflexes and a whole other set of features we don’t know exist. A good example of this is the fight or flight reflex which a lot of you have probably heard about (get ready to attack someone/something or get ready to run away from it).
For example you might be having a conversation with your boss and they make a comment that your work isn’t “up to the mark”. Now it could be a 100% total valid, non-threatening comment. However, suppose if growing up someone consistently said the **exact same words **to you. Suddenly, you’d go into a fight mode where you want to take that person down simply because you felt attacked. It’s a bit of a hypothetical scenario but the point of it is that suddenly you’re having an exchange of emotions, not logic and trying to improve your work.
To avoid a scenario similar to the one above, it’s imperative to manage your own emotions. Once you’ve done that you can:
- Step outside of the conversation and take a detached view of what’s actually going on
- Determine if the other person is okay with sharing their real thoughts and feels that you respect them to begin with (aka safety)
- If safety is at risk, try to solve the differences without accusations or defence provoking behaviour
- Create mutual, higher order purpose to redefine the conversation
Although I conceptually get how to do it, the path to master it is one of years. I’m still at the very beginning of it. That shouldn’t be viewed as a downside though. It’s simply a reminder that we all have a lot of work to do on ourselves and we should continually strive towards reaching that goal.
Overall, what I enjoyed the most about this book was the various situations and hard conversations they present and the way the authors demonstrate they would solve them. At the start of each situation they present, you think in your head “there’s no way you could handle that conversation without it going down badly”, but then the authors do show how it could go well. Bingo! Your view on difficult conversations just changed and you have a reference point should you need to revisit it in the future.