Book Review: Crucial Confrontations

Crucial confrontations book coverMany of us would admit to failing to face up to people who have let us down. The authors of Crucial Confrontations provide numerous examples of this effect that have led to serious cost to companies, human relationships and even lives. However, observing the problem isn’t enough to solve the problem, because the problem lies in people’s ability to confront people. More specifically, it lies in their perceived ability: people think they won’t be able to have a productive confrontation, so they avoid doing it.

Luckily, as well as diagnosing an insidious problem this book provides clear and actionable advice that could be helpful to anyone, whatever their current level of communication skills. The authors blend well-observed general principles with specific examples from professional and personal contexts. They have done particularly well to reduce a potentially confusing topic to a single clear model that is simple enough to comprehend and general enough to be useful.

The scope of the book is both broad and narrow. It’s narrow in that it focuses almost exclusively on a single case: people who have violated an agreement or expectation. However, in a sense this still has great breadth since these situations occur in all walks of life. The examples in the book show how the principles apply equally well in work and at home.

I never feel like I’ve written a fair review unless I’ve picked a few holes in a book, and I’m struggling to do so here. The worst I can say is that this isn’t an instant classic, if for no other reason than its narrow scope. However, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be well advised to give it a read.


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