A partial list of the most common terminology found in VitalSmarts training and bestselling books:
Accomplice —A person who influences you to start a bad habit and/or stop a good one.
Accountability Conversation —A face-to-face accountability discussion where someone has disappointed you, and you talk to him or her directly. When handled well, the problem is resolved and the relationship benefits.
Add New Friends —Find those people who either share your goal or are interested in offering you support.
“And” Thinking— “And” Thinking helps us avoid making a Fool’s Choice. Instead of feeling confined to choose one alternative OR avoid its bad consequences, ask yourself how you can achieve one AND avoid the other.
AMPP —A set of “power listening” skills that help build safety and encourage the other person to share his or her meaning. AMPP stands for Ask, Mirror, Paraphrase, and Prime.
Build Fences —Intractable rules and decisive actions that make it easier for you to stand up to avoid the most dangerous, tempting places in your environment.
Clever Story —A story we tell ourselves when we’re disappointed, threatened, or at risk. The three types of stories we often tell ourselves are Victim Stories, Villain Stories, and Helpless Stories.
Command Decision —A decision in which one person decides with no involvement from others.
Consensus Decision —A decision in which everyone must agree to support the decision.
Consult Decision —A decision in which everyone gives input, then a subset of one or more makes the decision.
Contrasting Statement —A tool to address predictable misunderstandings that could put safety at risk. This is done by first, imagining what others may erroneously conclude and then immediately explaining that this is what you don’t mean, followed by your contrasting point—what you do mean.
Control Your Space —The sixth and final source of influence that specifically addresses structural ability and surrounding yourself with a supportive physical environment.
Crucial Conversation —A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.
Crucial Moment —The point in time where the right behavior, if enacted, leads to the results you want.
CPR —The three types of conversations that can be held around a particular issue: Content (discussing the issue itself), Pattern (discussing the problem that the issue keeps recurring), and Relationship (discussing the fact that the issue is affecting your overall relationship with the other person).
Default Future— The life you’ll live if you continue to behave as you currently are.
Deliberate Practice— Identifying and practicing the skills that will help you stop doing the wrong thing and start doing the right thing.
Describe the Gap— Bringing up a problem involving a disappointment by describing the gap between what you expected and what actually took place.
Do What You Can’t —The second of six sources influence that specifically addresses personal ability and learning new skills required to create and sustain change.
Explore Others’ Paths— A skill to help others stay in dialogue when you notice them moving to silence or violence. Encourage them to explore their entire Path to Action (see STATE My Path for more details on how to do this).
Fool’s Choice —These are false dilemmas that suggest we face only two options (both of them bad), when in fact we face several choices—some of them good. We suffer from “Or” Thinking.
Friend —A person who influences you to stop a bad habit and/or start a good one.
Fundamental Attribution 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.
Invert the Economy —The fifth of six sources of influence that specifically addresses structural motivation and rewarding yourself for change as well as punishing yourself for bad behavior.
Learn to Look —When a conversation turns crucial, we either miss or misinterpret the early warning signs. We want to be able to step out of the content of the conversation and learn to look for signs that a conversation has become crucial and that safety is at risk so we can get back to dialogue more quickly.
Left-Hand Column— Chris Argyris, a noted behavioral psychologist, came up with the idea that people place their thoughts and feelings in one of two places: their Right-Hand Column or their Left-Hand Column. The Right-Hand Column is what we do say in the conversation. The Left-Hand Column includes what we think or feel but don’t say—the meaning we withhold from the conversation.
Loss Aversion —A person’s tendency to place a higher premium on a loss than a gain.
Love What You Hate —The first of six sources of influence that specifically addresses personal motivation and making the right choices pleasurable.
Manage Distance —Using distance to your advantage by bringing good things close and moving temptations far away.
Master My Stories— A principle that help us control the emotions that drive our actions. We do this by challenging the stories we tell ourselves—we ask questions. One such question is “Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person act this way?” Posing the question is NOT making an assumption that all people are reasonable, rational, and decent; rather, posing the
question IS an effort to consider other possibilities. This increases the probability of getting what we really want.
Move to Action— A skill to overcome the barriers to change. First, decide up front which form of decision making you’ll be using (Command, Consult, Vote, or Consensus). Then create and agree on a specific plan. Document Who does What by When and how you’ll Follow Up (WWWF).
Mutual 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.
Mutual Respect— Creating safety by assuring others that you care about and respect them, and that your goal is to solve problems and make things better for both of you.
Natural Consequences —Consequences that occur independent of outside action, and require no authority or power.
“Or” Thinking —”Or” thinking is thinking that gets us into the rut of a “Fool’s Choice” (see “And” Thinking). We believe we can only achieve one of two good outcomes, and there will be negative consequences either way (e.g. we can either be honest OR we can be kind).
Personal Motivation Statement— A simple but personally powerful statement successful changers review whenever temptations threaten to overpower them.
Pool of Shared Meaning— Each of us enters a conversation with our own opinions, feeling, theories, and experiences about the topic. These make up our personal pool of meaning. When two or more people enter a crucial conversation, we build a pool of shared meaning—the more we add of each person’s meaning, the more information is available to everyone involved and the better the decisions made.
Redefine Normal —Avoid making external comparisons and using the words “everybody” and “normal” to justify your unhealthy behavior. Instead, ask yourself who you want to be and how you want to live and feel.
Reward Small Wins —Instead of attaching rewards to your ultimate goal, set small action-oriented goals and reward yourself when you meet one of them.
Safety —Establishing an atmosphere where the other person in a conversation feels comfortable and free to talk about or listen to any topic, not matter how sensitive it may be.
Silence vs. Violence —The communication styles we revert to when we don’t feel safe in open dialogue. Silence is purposely withholding meaning from the shared pool; it ranges from playing verbal games to avoiding a person entirely. Violence is trying to compel others toward your point of view using tactics like controlling, labeling, and attacking.
Six Sources of Influence —The six major categories of influences that drive people to do the things they do are: Personal Motivation, Personal Ability, Social Motivation, Social Ability, Structural Motivation, and Structural Ability.
Skill Scan —Identify the skills you need to learn and the skills you already possess that will you help you implement your change plan and meet your goals.
Start with 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 the conversation.
STATE My Path —A set of skills that help you share difficult feedback or risky meaning. STATE stands for Share your facts, Tell your story, Ask for others’ paths, Talk tentatively, and Encourage testing.
Style Under Stress —This is the communication style you naturally revert to when crucial conversations start getting tense. Being aware of your own Style Under Stress (whether it’s silence, violence, or dialogue) will help you guard against your worst tendencies and either catch problems early or avoid them altogether.
Turn Accomplices Into Friends —The third and fourth of six sources of influence that specifically addresses social motivation and social ability. These sources involve surrounding yourself with people who encourage positive change (friends) instead of discouraging your improvement (accomplices).
Turn Bad Days Into Good Data —The ability to learn from your mistakes and adjust your change plan as you learn about additional sources of influence that work against you.
Victim Story —A story we tell ourselves when we’re disappointed, threatened, or at risk. When we tell ourselves a victim story, we exaggerate our own innocence. We intentionally ignore the role we have played in the problem and tell our story in a way that avoids whatever we have done (or neglected to do) that might have contributed to the problem.
Villain Story —A story we tell ourselves when we’re disappointed, threatened, or at risk. When we tell ourselves a villain story, we overemphasize the other person’s guilt. We automatically assume the worst possible motives while ignoring any possible good or neutral intentions a person may have.
Vital Behavior —A high-leverage action that, if routinely enacted, will lead to the results you want.
Vote Decision —A decision in which all have a voice, but the majority rules.
What and If —The first principle of Crucial Accountability™: problems come at us so rapidly and unannounced that we’re often caught by surprise. As a result, we move too quickly or become emotional and choose the wrong problem to address. To break this habit, we have to slow down, unbundle the problem into its components, and then choose What and If (what problem we’ll address, and if we should bring it up).
Willpower Trap —The incorrect assumption that the only reason (among many possible reasons) we fail to make good choices is our lack of willpower.
WWWF —Once you’ve diagnosed the root cause of a problem, it’s time to move to action and resolve it. Do this by creating and agreeing on a specific plan. Determine WWWF: Who does What by When and how you’ll Follow up.