“It’s not WHAT you’re saying that makes people defensive, but WHY they think you’re saying it.”-Joseph Grenny
(Yes, even your teen!)
Are there moments in life that matter more than others? Can you tell the truth and still keep a friend, or still maintain that relationship?
Researcher and author Joseph Grenny says the answer is YES!
Let’s think about it for a moment.
What would you say if your teen started dating and you notice they begin spending a lot of alone time together?
What would you say if your teen’s friends started getting into trouble and you were worried about your own child’s safety?
Would you say anything at all, or just leave it alone?
Grenny calls these crucial conversations: conversations that can alter the future, both if you have them and if you don’t.
He goes on to classify these conversations as having high stakes, opposing views, and strong emotions.
What does this mean?
According to Grenny, there’s something at stake both if you have these conversations, and if you don’t. Secondly, because these conversations are high stakes, you’re probably also expecting your teen to disagree with you. Expecting this opposition may cause you to approach your teen differently than you otherwise might. Thirdly, crucial conversations are ones accompanied by strong emotions.
Does this situation sound familiar?
Once you’ve identified a crucial conversation you need to have with your tween or teen, Grenny says you should calculate the cost of silence:
What might happen in the foreseeable future if you don’t talk to your teen about the amount of alone time they’re spending with their significant other?
What might happen if you don’t talk to your teen about the potential harm that could come from the company they’re keeping?
Do you have an idea of some possible outcomes if you choose not to address these concerns? Good. Now think about what might happen if you DO have these conversations!
When sitting down to discuss your concerns, Grenny says there are key ways you can approach these conversations:
The two principles of crucial conversations are safety and candor.
- Make them feel safe.
- It could be an apology, a smile, a hug, whatever is needed in that moment.
- Tell them you care about their GOALS and about THEM before you begin your conversation (not lecture).
- Be honest (candor). 100%.
- Don’t sugarcoat.
- Don’t lie.
According to Grenny, if people feel safe, you can be honest, even with your teen.
I know, I know, teens are hard to talk to.
I don’t have any teenagers yet, but I was a teen not too long ago. If you asked my mother, she’d tell you all about how I was quick to go on the defensive, not hearing anything she had to say and maybe even doing the exact opposite just because I could. Yeah, I was that kind of teen (sorry, Mom!).
Maybe you have a difficult teen, too.
I can’t guarantee you that having these crucial conversations with your teen will change anything right away, but I can guarantee you that no matter how defensive they get (or how LOUD they get in their opposition), they’re still listening.
What crucial conversation do you need to have with your teen today? What will be the cost of your silence if you don’t have that crucial conversation?
Healthy relationships are the foundation of a healthy society. Help your teen know what one looks like by modeling it for them!
Communication is key, even if it’s hard.
Here are some quotes to think about from Joseph Grenny, researcher and author of Crucial Conversations:
- “You can measure the health of a relationship by measuring the average lag time between identifying a problem and discussing the problem.”
- “The principle of crucial conversations: Anytime you find yourself stuck, stop and ask ‘What crucial conversation are we not holding, or not holding well?’”
- “So many broken relationships are broken not because it was inevitable but because of silence. The lag time between feeling a problem and addressing the problem was too long, so the relationships broke.”