Are you confident enough to know what to say in a crucial moment? On this episode of Brandstorm, our guest will help you speak and be heard. Julie Loeding is a certified corporate trainer of “Crucial Conversations” and a management and marketing instructor at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), as well as a former Miss Wisconsin.

What’s a Crucial Conversation?

A crucial conversation can happen at the workplace or in your personal life and evokes strong emotions, has high stakes and involves opposing opinions. It is also the name of a book, training program and certification created by Vital Smarts, a global leadership training provider out of Utah. Its researchers spent 35 years studying and identifying the best performers within organizations and how they effectively handled different situations. That wisdom has been parlayed into a bestselling book and 16-hour training program.

The Anatomy of a Crucial Conversation

In most organizations, Crucial Conversations start with senior leadership and then filter down through the entire company. Every organization has problems, but Julie says the most successful ones talk about them. According to Julie, you must separate emotions from the facts and start with heart. What do want for yourself, the other person, your relationship or company? It forces you to take the focus off yourself. Time, place and safety are also important for conversations. Julie admits her favorite place is in the car where there is no opportunity to escape, but if you are in a meeting and see someone is shutting down, smiling or getting angry, stop and address that emotion. Ask them what they are feeling. Be tentative in your actions and ask for feedback. For example, “I’ve told you some of my concerns. Now I’d like to hear from you.” At that point, be quiet and listen. You can also try priming, which involves asking a question in different ways. You can solve problems faster when the conversations are open and end with an action plan.

Lastly, Julie says there are conversations that can end up in a downward spiral, where emotions derail the conversation. In these cases, stop and step out of that conversation. Take a timeout. Acknowledge that things are not going well and perhaps start over or apologize or try contrasting by pointing out your original intent versus what just happened.

Why Crucial Conversations?

Julie endorses Crucial Conversations because of its real-life scenarios, online components, videos and tools to help organizations and individuals work through difficult situations. The 16 hours can be done intensely over a couple of days or over several weeks depending on the organization’s schedule. Costs are typically determined by the number of attendees and the trainers’ fees.

Connect with Julie Loeding

LinkedIn: @juliealoeding

Phone: 262-691-5317


Vital Smarts: