29 May 2017

My Notes on Crucial Conversations


I have participated in a two-day course on Crucial Conversations. These are my notes on the course and the facilitation skills of the instructor.

Day 1

  • Video workshop
    • Conflict
    • Body Language
Facilitator's Note: 
  • Do you mean that? She used it when someone referred to crying as emotions. I have noticed the same behavior from another facilitator redefining a phrase to less painful.
  • She was laughing, had an Open Face
  • She used to demonstrate push back, asking people stand up and pushing their hands together. (& then debriefed on body language and then talked about the fight on a corner)
  • She used the following questions to check in with the audience:
    • Is this fair?
    • Does that sound OK/fair?
    • Does that make sense?
Idea: How you do that when you were a kid? Actually, this is a very good opening if you want to emphasize the effect of childhood development to who we are right now. 


  • Level of Personal Effort:
    • Owners
      • Excitement
      • Commitment
      • Co-operation
    • Renters
      • Compliance
      • resentment
      • retaliation | quit 

Our motives changed before our actions changed
(if you don't act it out, you will act it out)

Intent v.s. Impact

  • Might be different from time to time
  • Might be perceived differently 

What do you mean? 
If you are hearing this question being asked, you most probably are telling a story rather than stating facts. 


Three Clever Stories:
  • Victim
  • Villian
  • Helpless
Idea: As a coach, you can use this in helping the coach understand where they stand. 

Day 2

Ta*****'s funny and annoying stories is a reflection of your own behavior.

Behaviors come from emotions and those from stories you are telling yourself.

Silence Kills


People rarely become defensive about what you are saying. They become defensive because of why they think you are saying it! (intent v.s. content)

on safety: stay small, stay safe


Restart your brain:

  • What am I behaving like I want?
  • What do I really want? 
    • For myself?
    • For others?
    • For the relationship?
    • For the organization?
  • How would I behave if I really did?

Unbundle with CPR
  • Content - single instance
  • Pattern - a recurring problem
  • Relationship - how the problem is affecting working relationship

Silence v.s. Violence
& the behaviors sampling them


Care continuum
From civility to fondness


Mutual purpose: care about their best interest
Mutual respect: care about them as a person


17 May 2017

Effective Yet Effortless Meetings, Introducing Better Meetings Canvas!

Have you ever been in a meeting that was a complete waste of time? Have you ever wondered how did that happen? Why did such meeting take place? Have you ever heard that meetings are not effective and we should avoid them? Being in the software world for quite a while, I can assure you that happened a lot for me as well. I have asked why couldn't or wouldn't the meeting facilitator have done a better job several times. Why can't he or she get people more excited and engaged?

But these days we are in the Agile space, you might believe or hear that there are not many meetings need to be facilitated. There is stand up which doesn't count as a meeting, people just need to stand up and talk. There is sprint review which the team will take care of it. There is a refinement meeting which is the role of the Product Owner to run, and it is basically his or her turn to ask questions and answer any ambiguity, so basically it is a Q&A session. There is the retrospective which is different, but the Scrum Master found it easy to run, there is this website you go to and it gives you many ideas on how to run your meeting. Are these resonating with you?


It doesn't matter in what space you are operating. Whether it is a manufacturing company or a leading tech company running state of the art high performing teams. If you want to have a great meeting you need to prepare for that meeting, be present as a neutral facilitator to that meeting and then follow up if needed after that meeting.

Achieving a way to run an effective meeting effortlessly, I have come up with a canvas called Better Meetings Canvas. It is basically a collection of questions. The questions are simple but necessary to be answered for any meeting. There are chores that need to be done before the meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting. If you are scheduling a meeting, I suggest you think about all the sections of this canvas. After a while, you don't even need to look at it. It becomes a habit of yours.



You can also find a Google Docs version of the Better Meetings Canvas.