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Your Style Under Stress Assessment

Stressed? Who, me? Never. (cue sarcasm)

When the stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions differ, we all struggle to stay cool. But more often than not, we clam up for fear that speaking up will make things worse; or, we blow up because we haven’t a clue how to express ourselves honestly and respectfully.

But there’s a better way. The skills taught in our bestselling book and training course, Crucial Conversations, can teach you how to have effective dialogue in even the most crucial of circumstances.

Take the first step to improving your crucial conversations skills by learning your Style Under Stress. This 33-question quiz reveals your natural tendencies to move toward silence (masking, avoiding, or withdrawing) or violence (controlling, labeling, or attacking).

  • Identify a Relationship. Before you begin, think about the relationship you want to explore with your boss, coworker, direct report, friend, or family member.
  • Identify a Circumstance. Next, think of a tough circumstance—one where you either stay silent or perhaps lash out with anger, a raised voice, sarcasm, etc…
  • Apply. With that relationship and circumstance in mind, respond to the following statements.
1. At times I avoid situations that might bring me into contact with people I'm having problems with.
2. I have put off returning phone calls or e-mails because I simply didn't want to deal with the person who sent them.
3. Sometimes when people bring up a touchy or awkward issue I try to change the subject.
4. When it comes to dealing with awkward or stressful subjects, sometimes I hold back rather than give my full and candid opinion.
5. Rather than tell people exactly what I think, sometimes I rely on jokes, sarcasm, or snide remarks to let them know I'm frustrated.
6. When I've got something tough to bring up, sometimes I offer weak or insincere compliments to soften the blow.
7. In order to get my point across, I sometimes exaggerate my side of the argument.
8. If I seem to be losing control of a conversation, I might cut people off or change the subject in order to bring it back to where I think it should be.
9. When others make points that seem stupid to me, I sometimes let them know it without holding back at all.
10. When I'm stunned by a comment, sometimes I say things that others might take as forceful or attacking—terms such as "Give me a break!" or "That's ridiculous!"
11. Sometimes when things get a bit heated I move from arguing against others' points to saying things that might hurt them personally.
12. If I really get into a heated discussion, I've been known to be tough on the other person. In fact, they might even feel a bit insulted or hurt.
13. When I'm discussing an important topic with others, sometimes I move from trying to make my point to trying to win the battle.
14. In the middle of a tough conversation, I often get so caught up in arguments that I don't see how I'm coming across to others.
15. When talking gets tough and I do something hurtful, I'm quick to apologize for my mistakes.
16. When I think about a conversation that took a bad turn, I tend to focus first on what I did that was wrong rather than focus on others' mistakes.
17. When I've got something to say that others might not want to hear, I avoid starting out with tough conclusions, and instead start with facts that help them understand where I'm coming from.
18. I can tell very quickly when others are holding back or feeling defensive in a conversation.
19. Sometimes I decide it's better not to give harsh feedback because I know it's bound to cause problems.
20. When conversations aren't working, I step back from the fray, think about what's happening, and take steps to make it better.
21. When others get defensive because they misunderstand me, I immediately get us back on track by clarifying what I do and don't mean.
22. There are some people I'm rough on because, to be honest, they need or deserve what I give them.
23. I sometimes make absolute statements like "The fact is..." or "It's obvious that..." to be sure my point gets across.
24. If others hesitate to share their views, I sincerely invite them to say what's on their mind, no matter what it is.
25. At times I argue hard for my view hoping to keep others from bringing up opinions that would be a waste of energy to discuss anyway.
26. Even when things get tense, I adapt quickly to how others are responding to me and try a new strategy.
27. When I find that I'm at cross purposes with someone, I often keep trying to win my way rather than looking for common ground.
28. When things don't go well, I'm more inclined to see the mistakes others made than notice my own role.
29. After I share strong opinions, I go out of my way to invite others to share their views, particularly opposing ones.
30. When others hesitate to share their views, I do whatever I can to make it safe for them to speak honestly.
31. Sometimes I have to discuss things I thought had been settled because I don't keep track of what was discussed before.
32. I find myself in situations where people get their feelings hurt because they thought they would have more of a say in final decisions than they end up having.
33. I get frustrated sometimes at how long it takes some groups to make decisions because too many people are involved.