Full course description

The Crucial Conversations Suite is open to current Rice University employees. If you’re not a current Rice University employee, but are interested in taking the class, contact Marie Wehrung at learn@rice.edu for assistance.

One of the greatest challenges we face at work is…others. Day in and day out, we must “interface” with others. Lots of others. Opinionated others. Faulted others. And we’re not alone in finding frustration with others. Nearly everyone can relate to the challenge of attempting to secure results while working with other human beings.

Researchers have found that the moments that make the biggest difference in our effectiveness are situations where we have to communicate with one or more people. Specifically, the way we behave in the following two crucial moments has a profound effect on our success:

1.     Communicating when the stakes are high, opinions differ, and emotions run strong, and

2.     Communicating with others who let us down, violate expectations, break promises, or behave poorly.

The Crucial Conversations Suite is a five-part workshop consisting of Crucial Conversations (parts 1, 2 and 3), and Crucial Accountability (parts 4 and 5).

The Suite teaches skills for creating alignment and agreement by fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics—at all levels of your organization. By learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), you’ll surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on your decisions. You’ll learn how to

  • Stay focused on what you really want
  • Stay in dialogue when you’re angry, scared or hurt
  • Speak persuasively, not abrasively
  • Create mutual purpose, and make it safe to talk about almost anything
  • Listen when others “blow up” or “clam up”

It also teaches a straightforward, step-by-step process for identifying and resolving performance gaps, strengthening accountability, eliminating inconsistency, and reducing resentment. You’ll learn how to

  • Hold anyone accountable – no matter the person’s power, position or temperament
  • Master performance discussions – get positive results and maintain good relationships
  • Motivate others without using power – clearly and concisely explain specific, natural consequences, and permanently resolve problems
  • Manage projects without taking over – creatively help others avoid excuses, keep projects on track, and resolve performance barriers
  • Move to action – agree on a plan, follow up, engage in good reporting practices, and manage new expectations