I always thought I was a good conversationalist, and even in high-stakes situations, I thought I always handled myself well.
As I look back and open up, I must admit that I wasn't as good as I thought. I often would act smug, like I knew it all, and I sometimes discounted emotions because I was thinking they're just weren't logical.
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, et. al., is an excellent tool for anyone who is either 1) in a leadership position, 2) in a relationship or 3) finding themselves in frequent conversations that don't work.
I honestly find myself in many so-called "conversations" that aren't even conversations. I'm in a lot of "hey, let me talk at you" type of situations. Not fun for me.
So if teachers, by and large, have a hard time with conversations, how is everybody else? I surmise they're equally as unskilled — or worse.
Some conversations are what the writers of Crucial Conversations call "violent" — controlling, labeling and attacking. Sadly, after studying this book and Nonviolent Communication, I realize that I often myself in violent conversations. I'm only one component of the conversation, so I do my best to create a safe space and am deliberate about what I bring to the conversation.
Crucial Conversations (2002, 2012 edition) provides excellent tools of how to respond when conversations get hairy and how to make it safe to talk about anything. I loved the book so much that I also read, and also recommend, Crucial Accountability and Influencer by the same authors. At the bare minimum, readers can see their tendencies that might not help conversations and then grow from that.