Conversations Courage Feedback Growth Mindset

Four reasons why we fail at crucial conversations

How to be better prepared for the conversations we usually avoid.

Recently the world population reached 8 billion people. 

That’s 8 billion people that are part of a worldwide community of human beings that need each other to grow, flourish, be happy, and create fulfillment in their lives.

Roughly (very roughly) 20% of those 8 billion are children. That leaves about 6 billion adults.

That’s my group of focus for this insight.

Six billion people with unfinished business. 

Each of these 6 billion adults has at least one crucial conversation they’re avoiding.

Yes, that’s a bold statement, and it’s true.

As we grow older, there are always people around us that deserve or need a ‘good’ conversation but won’t get one.

People who would benefit from feedback they won’t get from us.

People who have betrayed us or who we have betrayed, but we’ve never reconciled with them what happened.

Friends or family who we no longer talk to for whatever reason. 

Or just a simple situation that upset us and that was never settled with the person involved.

Conversations. And in some cases, crucial conversations. 

They are crucial because they could change somebody’s life and make them successful.

Crucial because they could restore a relationship and diminish hard feelings.

Crucial simply because they would change something for the better.

But we often avoid these conversations. 

What once started as a discomfort has grown over the years to such tension that our heart starts beating when we even think about the conversation. 

With every day passing, the likelihood that we will once have the conversation is becoming smaller and smaller.

We keep waiting day after day for the right moment to come.

But it never will.

We often avoid these conversations for one or more of these four reasons:
  1. We don’t have the skills to have the conversation;
  2. We lack the courage to engage in the conversation;
  3. We lack the humility to look in the mirror to see our contribution to the issue;
  4. We lack the self-awareness to assess the above reasons and other obstacles for what they are, providing us with valuable lessons and helping us to figure out how to engage.

Usually, not just one of these four stops us from engaging in a much-needed conversation.

The one reason I’d like to highlight here is the lack of skill.

Being skilled in crucial conversations will help confidence, demand self-reflection, and help raise self-awareness.


There are several models to conduct a crucial conversation with different terminology, but they are based on the same principles:

  • The mindset to prepare and practice.
  • A short introductory statement that describes the specific situation or behavior, why it’s important, the contribution to the issue of the initiator, and the willingness to resolve.
  • The ability to listen and ask great questions.
  • The ability to deal with deflection, defensiveness, or denial.

All of the above are trainable when the intention to grow is present.

Yes, a crucial conversation is trainable.

It’s a utopia to believe that 6 billion people will master the skill and collectively make the world better.

That’s why I focus on those leaders who want to impact the people they serve by demonstrating great skill in crucial conversations.

Your turn: What conversation are you avoiding?

Do more of what makes you happy!


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Erikjan Lantink
Business & Leadership Coach

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