Milan’s Story

An untraditional book helps Milan train college students for life.

I’m a college professor at the University of Northern Colorado, teaching Human Resource Management in our business school. I’ve always loved my job and feel blessed to work with young adults as they try to find their place in this world. We often hear how today’s employers yearn for employees who can communicate well and who can manage others effectively. I’ve taken this feedback as a personal challenge. Soft skills need to be a bigger part of the college learning experience, and I feel a “calling” to make a small difference in students’ lives by helping them build their communication skills.

One of the classes I teach is Advanced HR, where I have more freedom to use non-traditional materials—materials that are often more applicable and practical. In 2009, I discovered Crucial Conversations and I quickly adopted it for the Advanced HR class. I migrated to Crucial Accountability when it was released and I can’t begin to tell you how many of my students have been forever grateful (and changed) by your books.

I teach in an untraditional manner by structuring the class in a seminar format instead of a lecture format, and the students love it. Fundamentally, I know we can’t teach these skills by merely talking about them, so we do a lot of roleplaying during the class. Students are initially shocked by this different method of teaching, but they soon realize how much more valuable it is.

Over the past eight years, over 300 students have completed the course and the difference it has made in their lives is immeasurable! The joy I have experienced on both a professional and personal level is incredible. I often reconnect with former students and the first thing they talk about is how grateful they are for the skills they learned through our crucial accountability roleplays and discussions. Just last week I ran into a former student who works for Scheels All Sports. Now a manager for the golf department, he couldn’t stop talking about the confidence he has because of what he learned in this class, and specifically what he learned about accountability. He loves his job and is excited to conquer the world. It doesn’t get any better than that!

The skills taught in Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability have impacted so many lives, but I’m especially thankful because they’ve changed my life by giving me a set of tools to influence my students for good. ◼

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the storyteller and do not reflect the view of VitalSmarts.

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