Scott Donald Carper-Crucial Accountability

Author of Book: Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan
Date Read: June 3, 2023

Book Report

Why did you read this book?
I loved the first book in this series…”Crucial Conversations.” That book dives into how to have high level
discussions. This book takes things a step further and gets specific (broken commitments, tools for
resolving issues). When I begin reading this book, I was kind of exhausted reading self-help books. I
probably should have chosen a fiction or historical book…but I powered through and ended up really
enjoying it. I didn’t think I would like topics this specific…. but the way this book describes dealing with
conflict or with people that create conflict gave me numerous ideas on how to handle different
situations. The book helps you focus on improving relationships in the workplace and in life…Broken
promises, missed deadlines, poor behavior. The strategies are quite ingenious for handling difficult

What is this book about?
I used to think the key to giving really good feedback was to be brutally honest. BRUTALLY HONEST. I
thought it correct to be brutally honest. I actually hated to do it because I didn’t want it to be necessary
yet I thought it was. My opinion has changed over the years to be more like this:
People want to feel at ease when discussing issues…not stressed. Holding others accountable,
particularly if you have to be honest, is stressful. So, individuals rationalize and choose niceness over
following up. It is not a sellout: backing off is the right thing to do. Of course, you can believe this
semitortured logic only if you believe that being honest and holding people to their promises are
inherently stressful and bad. This book makes the point (and I agree) that people who are good at
accountability are both candid and courteous. They are honest but not “brutally honest.” You can
interact with people and still be a nice person. You can be candid and at the same time nice. You can
get results and still be nice…You can follow up and still be nice. You don’t have to be mean to give great
advice/feedback or direction. My point in all this is that people love the story about “tough love.” This
book does a masterful job of dispelling that notion (which I loved).
In situations where accountability is shaky, people treat you as if you’ve succeeded as long as you have a
good excuse or story. How often does this happen to you? How often I have I employed this tactic?
Justifying being late or not performing with some fantastic story that supports your excuse. In our
inventive culture, failure accompanied by a plausible excuse equals success. We all have heard
“something just came up.” This story works so often. It keeps you from ever being held accountable –
that is, if friends, family, bosses, and coworkers actually let you get away with it. We should know
better. We need to understand that an accountability discussion deals with broken commitments, and if
you don’t have to keep commitments, everything falls apart.
The problem with power, perks, and charisma is not that they never work or never should be used. The
problem is that people turn to them to quickly, and there are always better methods. For instance,
savvy parents and influential leaders use their ability to teach (I am a huge fan of teaching others as a

way to persuasively communicate). Most people us force when dealing with issues. Force will always
yield the lowest results for propelling true change.
This book dispels the belief that power is the first and best tool for motivating others. It is a short-term
solution at best. Raw power, painfully applied, may move bodies, it may even inspire people
temporarily, but it rarely moves hearts and minds. Hearts and minds are changed through expanded
understanding and new realizations. The flagrant and abusive use of authority in contrast, guarantees
little more than short term bitter compliance.

How will I apply what I learned?
As I continue to read these books, I find myself drawn to people who challenge me more. I used to want
to avoid conflict at all times…Now I know better… These books in a rather clever manner reiterate that
being challenged is essential to growth. It is interesting…there are lots of inmates who have very strong
opinions. Now some of these opinions may be way off but it still makes for interesting discussions.
Every day I go and ride the bike on two separate occasions. Each time I ride with a friend next to me and
we talk. My first ride is after RDAP around 11am. An inmate named Arellano (an ex-drug cartel guy) and
I engage in these crazy debates. He is one of those guys that loves to push your buttons. He argues with
me about everything. He is crazy smart. At first, I hated it…I really don’t like conflict…but after a while I
learned what a benefit it was to engage in these conversations. Although he drives me crazy…I have to
give him credit for getting me to engaged in daily debates. He got caught with a phone and went to the
SHU (I mentioned it in my last newsletter). My next ride time is after dinner at 4pm. I ride with a
brilliant guy named Newling. Although we disagree on a number of different topic (he is a republican
from CA) he often gets me to see his side of things. The discussions are different in the sense that
although we disagree it is more of a constructive debate. I would have avoided these conversations in
the past.
As crazy as it is to say I can directly correlate my newfound love of debates to what I have learned in this
series of books. Many books offer suggestions that I feel I already use (so I don’t really learn anything).
These books covered new strategies on how to deal with situations that seem like no win situations.
Which ironically are perfect for in here. This place is king of the frustrating/pointless conversations….
Especially with staff…where everything you say needs to be careful and measured.