In this week’s Power Idea, CEO and Founder, Jerry Houston, discusses the idea about why we need to have CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS in our professional and our personal lives. We hope you enjoy this perspective on an important topic.

I am always surprised when people tell me things that are just a little bit beyond real! For example, years ago I worked with an emergency call center group in a city, made up of some really heroic and professional people, for whom saving lives was an everyday occurrence.

And yet, this team of 12 individuals were a divided camp, having not talked directly to each other over some issues in their team for over THREE YEARS! In fact, they only had interaction when they were involved in an emergency call and needed help.

As we explored the issues, we found that they were relatively small (some of the members reported that they couldn’t remember what actually started the break in communication) but still blamed the other side for the situation that existed.

We embarked on an exercise that I call nominal group techniques to get the issues on the table and dealt with. We had the group sit in a circle and asked that a specific person start a conversation by answering this question: “We have a communication and relationship challenge in this group, because…” The first person whispered her response!….Obviously that didn’t work and we asked her to speak up. At the beginning the responses were pretty emotional. There was little eye contact… you get the idea.

Each person got a turn explaining their position to the next person, and the receiving party had to repeat back what they heard. It was uncomfortable to say the least. We made it all the way around the circle, where we restarted the process asking the question: “How do we repair what has happened and improve the relationships in the group from this point forward. Suddenly the mood shifted, people were sharing, making eye contact and even joking around. At the end there were lots of hugs, a few tears and many, “I’m Sorries.”

Challenges and issues cannot be left to dormancy. They must be addressed and all it takes is for someone to have the courage to say… Let’s Talk (and Listen).