Crucial Skills®

A Blog by Crucial Learning

Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue

Working Behind the Scenes

Dear Crucial Skills,

I am not recognized by upper management for the projects I have successfully completed in my position. My great accomplishments typically get handed off and go on to board meetings, etc. I am not ever recognized as the source of these accomplishments; in fact, others quickly claim them as their own work.

I am struggling with my current lack of motivation and am considering moving to another company to try again. I am definitely avoiding a crucial conversation with my supervisor, but I’m not sure what I want from the conversation, or that I would have anything to gain from initiating it. I feel that any recognition received at this point would not be sincere.

Behind the Scenes

Dear Behind the Scenes,

Where would Batman be without Robin? Where would Ronald be without Nancy? Where would Bonnie be without . . . never mind.

I’m sure your concern is echoed by hundreds of other readers. We’ve all been in a position of feeling unrecognized for our contributions.

It sounds to me like you’re caught in a Victim Story: You don’t like the results you’re getting (lack of recognition and feedback); you don’t see a viable way of influencing it (you aren’t speaking up because you aren’t sure the subsequent recognition would be genuine); and you’re considering facing the enormous transition costs of leaving without having ever attempted the crucial conversation. This story has led you to choose going to silence over holding the crucial conversation.

Here’s my best advice: hold the crucial conversation. You clearly need to have a “relationship” conversation. The purpose of this conversation is to help your supervisor understand how a lack of feedback is affecting your motivation to contribute. Your supervisor will likely be thrilled to have this conversation if you open with mutual purpose. For example, “I’ve noticed I’m not giving my all anymore. I know some reasons why and would like to discuss them. I think if we can work some things out I would be able to give you 100 percent again. Would that be okay?”

Now, be careful when you open the conversation to be similarly open to feedback. Perhaps your supervisor thinks he or she is giving you feedback and part of the problem is that you are demanding too much. Perhaps your supervisor isn’t thrilled about everything you’re doing so the absence of praise is a result of his or her “acting out” rather than “talking out” concerns with you. Who knows? Just be prepared both to give feedback and receive it as well.

The worst that can happen is that nothing changes. If so, you’ve lost nothing. Rather, you’ve gained the confidence that you will refuse to allow yourself to be stuck in a Victim Story in future situations. And you’ll be more likely to be able to create circumstances that will be rewarding to you.

I love that you are conscious of how you’re acting out your concern through reduced motivation. That’s terrific self-insight. Now act on it and exert the influence you’re capable of!


Develop Your Crucial Skills

Image for

What's Your Style Under Stress?

Discover your dialogue strengths and weaknesses with this short assessment.

Take Assessment

Image for

Subscribe Now

Subscribe to the newsletter and get our best insights and tips every Wednesday.


Image for

Ask a Question

From stubborn habits to difficult people to monumental changes, we can help.

Ask a Question

Leave a Reply

Get your copies
The ideas and insights expressed on Crucial Skills hail from five New York Times bestsellers.


Take advantage of our free, award-winning newsletter—delivered straight to your inbox