Start a Difficult Conversation by Focusing on What You Have in Common
When you’re broaching a tricky topic with a colleague, your first few sentences can make or break the discussion. It’s normal to be defensive, and even to put blame on the other person, but implying that your counterpart is wrong will make the tough conversation even worse. Set yourself up for success by establishing common ground between you and the other person. State what you already agree on — where your goals overlap. You might say “We both want to make sure our patients get the best care possible” or “We agree that the new email system should integrate with our existing IT systems.” If you aren’t able to pinpoint common ground, or you’re not sure what your counterpart’s goal is, the easiest way to move forward is to ask questions. Explain what’s important to you and then ask, “Is there any overlap with what you care about? Or do you have another goal?” Questions like these set a collaborative tone.