When conversation is serious, don't joke. Don't be unpredictable.
Increasing predictability, by
will help them relax and trust you.
6 ways to increase predictability and decrease anxiety wrt difficult conversations.
1. Set the agenda - start with what you want to talk about
2. Explain next steps -
"I'm going to ask you some questions about your past medical history,
what I think may be going on,
and then what we are going to do about it."
3. Asking permission + empowerment (be prepared for a negative)
"Asking them if they want to talk about..."
4. Parking lot for distractions - thank you for sharing, it sounds like and important issue, is it OK if we come back to it later?
5. The warning shot. I'm really sorry I have difficult info to share with you...may need to do multiple times.
6. Sorry, I need to interrupt you...(see # 4) pivot back on track.
7. I'm going to be rude now..I have some really direct questions, ...going to give you my opinion about that...
Use the skill of shared thinking: You need to share your thinking...why the conversation is even happening...before you ask a hard question. Ask for more information instead of asking why did you do "that".
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