Fierce Conversations

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life, One Conversation at a time. 2004 Berkley ISBN; 97-0425-19337-2-

Have you been manipulated by people wanting to ensure something remains unsaid? Have you been targeted because you endeavored to name the elephant in the room that others refused to admit and did so in such a manner as to create hostility towards you? If so, this book by Susan Scott about dealing with difficult conversations is for you.

I was first introduced to Susan Scott when I was a TEC (the executive council) Chair and attending their conference. The conference was intimidating to me as it had a very military culture and to see a woman as one of the prime presenters gave me heart to speak up in front of male dominated audiences.

Susan has been able to do what so many aim to do – to live her life taking risks – risks that maintain her in her integrity and risks that pay off exponentially for those she works with. This is a necessary read for those wanting to be the most they can be and those who are fed up with the denial over visible/invisible elephants, whether in the boardroom or the living room at home.

She asks the readers to note conversations they have been avoiding, conversations others started but they failed to engage in. She makes a practice of calling out the elephant, the nymph and the joker in the room and the topic they are endeavoring to have everyone avoid. Her practise requires engaged mindfulness. Goodbye to the automatic pilot that most of us run our lives on. Even f you personally are not at the level of operating from consciousness most of the time, her practices can be compartmentalized such that they are applicable to key moments in your life.

Her method involves the following steps:

  • identify critical issue
  • clarify the issue
  • review the current impact of the issue
  • ask what will happen if nothing changes
  • how did you contribute to the issue
  • what is the ideal outcome
  • gain commitment to action

If there are conversations you are not having but you worry and obsess about the issues involved I highly recommend you read and reread this book. Her book is a wonderful motivator to have those conversations and she clearly outlines how to go about it. Like so many wonderful learnings from books, conferences, workshops, the trick is to practice, ideally with reflection and feedback until it becomes habit.

That is much more challenging than said. We the Alchemist professors, incorporate her practice of “fierce” conversations in our work with clients.