those causes are not addressed
carefully and respectfully, he is sure
that serious damage will be done to
Hybels talks about how to raise
the culture of honesty in a church.
Here’s his advice. “Put a flipchart in
the room where leaders meet, go
around the circle and simply ask
the question, ‘What percentage of
the full truth do we tend to tell each
other in here?’ ”
This “truth percentage” forces
the group to face the question of
whether the gap between the level
of truth they tend to tell and the full
truth helps or hinders their min-
istry. Hybels estimates the gap will
typically be at least 10 per cent.
Most of us, he says, tend to tell each
other about 90 per cent of the
truth, but hold back on the last 10.
“And,” he insists, “we all have a last
10 per cent.”
This approach identifies the
problem and provides common
language with which to address it.
In fact some church leaders influ-
enced by Hybels on this issue are
now starting to ask each other in
meetings, “Can I have permission
to speak to the last 10 per cent of
By using that language, everyone
in the room knows that the individ-
ual is not being mean-spirited or
picky, but wants the group to deal
with the full measure of truth ne-
cessary for a healthy outcome.
Respectful honesty, one step
at a time
For individuals who want to heighten their personal ability to speak
with 100 per cent truthfulness and
100 per cent respect, Grenny suggests getting started by choosing just
one area or skill to work on. A
common mistake made by Type A
personalities is to attempt to change
the culture overnight, propose a
complete makeover and blow things
up. Grenny advises patience to learn
one skill at a time. Here’s one to
begin with from Crucial Accountability (VitalSmarts, 2013).
CPR (Content, Pattern, Relationship):
designed to help focus on the right
conversation to hold.
Content refers to the first time an
infraction occurs. A staff member
shows up 15 minutes late for a
meeting, causing the rest of the
team to wait. A children’s worker
doesn’t show up at all and doesn’t
call, leaving a Grade Two class
without a teacher. Performance
expectations have been violated,
but it is a one-time infraction.
Pattern describes the infraction
occurring a second, third or even
fourth time. This leads to a different conversation. It is not the
specific violation that is at stake, it
is the recurring pattern which results in distrust. Clearly this repeated behaviour will sooner or later
impact Relationship. In choosing to
address the issue, the skilled leader
must decide which conversation to
hold. Is it a matter of content, pattern or relationship?
More often than we recognize,
our crucial conversations become
derailed because we hold the
wrong conversation. Something
has reached the level of violating
relationship, but we approach it
on a content level, or vice versa.
That’s when things can go drastically wrong.
Grenny’s CPR training resonates
with the work of Henry Cloud, a
popular Christian author and
The pseudo-community we too often experience in our faith
communities is a reflection of the pseudo-intimacy we experience
in our most personal relationships.
Crucial skills and insights for critical conversations
STAR T WI TH HEART. The first principle of
good dialogue is that healthy dialogue starts
with your own motives. Start With Heart
means to start with the right motives and stay
focused on what you really want throughout
DESCRIBE THE GAP. Bringing up a problem
involving a disappointment by describing the
gap between what you expected and what
actually took place.
FUNDAMEN TAL AT TRIBU TION ERROR. The
automatic assumption we often make that the
other person’s motives are bad. This can happen
when someone says or does something we
think is harmful or threatening. We immediately
attribute bad motive – we tell a villain story. For
example, “They are evil or selfish – they do bad
things because they enjoy it.”
HELPLESS STORY. A story we tell ourselves
when we’re disappointed, threatened or at
risk. When we tell ourselves a helpless story,
we make ourselves out to be powerless to
do anything healthy or helpful. We convince
ourselves that there are no healthy alternatives
for dealing with our predicament.
MU TUAL PURPOSE. Creating safety by
assuring others that you care about their best
interests and goals. More often than not, your
goals will be compatible, but the strategies you
developed to meet these goals are opposing.
PERCEN TAGE OF
WORKERS WHO SAY
IS AT RISK OF AN
ACCIDEN T WAI TING
TO HAPPEN BECAUSE
PEOPLE ARE AFRAID
TO SPEAK UP ( W W W.
VI TALSMAR TS. COM)