Rushmore Spotlight: Crucial Conversations

Brent C. Lundell (DBA)

Executive summary only (for full access to paper please email

Crucial Conversations teaches an effective communication model to be used when opinions vary, stakes are high, and when emotions run high.

The basic model steps include:

  1. Recognize that there is a problem.

  2. Decide what outcome you really want from the interaction.

  3. Observe when the conversation becomes crucial.

  4. Work to make a safe environment so both sides can communicate honestly.

  5. Examine the observed facts without creating a story from the facts.

  6. Tell the other side my facts without my interpretation of the facts.

  7. Honestly explore the others sides viewpoint and facts when they share them enabling mutual understanding.

  8. Together decide what action will be taken and how it will be followed up on.

This model is very effective but also difficult to apply because when opinions vary, when stakes and emotions run high, those communicating tend to have an adrenalin rush which causes them to stop thinking clearly. Therefore, the key to this model is to stay calm and think clearly.

It is my opinion that every college, every family therapist, and every parent should fully master these materials.

Problems and Proposed Solutions

Most negotiation interactions are within ongoing relationships, such as with co-workers and family members. These interactions range from very intense to mild. In business and in personal interactions, most people have no skill in even opening up a discussion without causing the other party to be angry. Simply saying “you’re wrong” does not work. This inability is a major challenge few people overcome through interpersonal skill development. Crucial Conversations provides a model to overcome this inability.


The field of negotiation, just like selling, is interaction based. Responses are based on what the other person says. The author has been using the materials to improve his interpersonal relationships in both business and family.

Take from the paper - Crucial Conversations by Brent C. Lundell

  • Course Number and Name: Crucial Conversations, 8002

  • Program/Major: DBA / Negotiation

  • Submission Date: December 22, 2009

  • Date Course was Started: August 10, 2009

  • Date Program was Started: February 1, 2009

  • Type of Course: Research

  • Practical Problem: What is the best model for dealing with difficult situations?

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