Challenging conversations: Curiosity versus Arguing

Managing patients struggling to find the reasons to engage in their treatment plans is often challenging, but there are many strategies that can help the clinician and ultimately, the patient. There is no recipe that will help in every situation but I hope you will get some ideas to play around with, reflect on and develop as your own.

Any upcoming conversation perceived as being ‘difficult’ can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can navigate the situation effectively. Here are some steps you can take to manage an upcoming conversation where the outcome is important:

Prepare yourself: Take some time to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the conversation.

To begin with, change your self-talk from “This is going to be a difficult conversation.” To something like- “This is going to be an information gathering conversation.” By changing your self-talk you will change your physiology. If your physiology is more amicable, the other person will be less defensive. Pick a word that suits the upcoming situation and that will elicit curiosity in you.

Ask yourself what outcome you want for yourself, the other person and the relationship moving forwards. By focusing on a bigger picture you will limit your tendency to become self-obsessed.

What is the intention behind the outcome that you want from the conversation? By being clear on your intention, you will be receptive to ideas that you had not thought of but satisfy the intention you set for the conversation. Your mind will stay open to opportunities.

Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Take the time to consider the other person’s perspective and anticipate their reactions.

Choose the right time and place: Choose a time and place that is conducive to having an open and honest conversation. Make sure there are no distractions or interruptions that could derail the conversation. This could also mean moving to a neutral area where both parties feel comfortable.

Stay calm and focused: It’s essential to stay calm and focused during any conversation. This will be aided by having a clear intention for the conversation. Avoid getting defensive or aggressive, and try to listen actively to the other person’s point of view.

Be clear and concise: Be clear and concise in your communication, and avoid using language that could be interpreted as accusatory or judgmental. This includes avoiding “WHY” questions which by nature tend to accusatory. Stick to the facts and avoid making assumptions.

Offer solutions and compromises: If possible, offer solutions and compromises that could help resolve the issue at hand. Try to find common ground and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the original intention for the conversation.

Follow up: After the conversation, follow up with the other person to ensure that the issue has been resolved satisfactorily. If necessary, schedule a follow-up conversation to discuss any further concerns or issues.

Remember, challenging conversations are a normal part of life, and by following these steps, you can manage them effectively and with confidence.

Where to from here for Thinking.Physio?

Skills practice and reflection will be the cornerstone of my training. I am available for both in person and Zoom PD for your group.

If you have a staff member who is struggles communicating with patients, you might be interested in one-on-one coaching for him/her. I take on a limited number of clients each year.

If you would like to engage me to work with your staff or coach a member of your team, click here so that you can schedule a time to discuss your specific training needs.

Contact me to find out when I will be in your city and available for LIVE professional development.

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