Skip to main content
Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Useful Tools for Tough Conversations

Useful Tools for Tough Conversations

October 25, 2012

What’s your go-to defense mechanism when you’re having a difficult conversation? Do you stand your ground at all costs, refusing to hear the other side of the story? Or do you back down and minimize your point of view to avoid an uncomfortable conflict? 

Both approaches are common reactions, according to Craig Weber, a leadership expert and featured speaker at CHI’s upcoming Hot Issues in Health Care legislative conference. And both are equally detrimental to productive, open dialogue on contentious subjects.

Weber conducted a workshop with the CHI team last week to teach us how to better handle challenging conversations on tough issues – and there is no shortage of tough issues to discuss when it comes to health care.

Weber discussed the typical “fight or flight” response, with “fight” being a “win at all costs” attitude and “flight” being a tendency toward passive aggression or downplaying your opinion to achieve a false harmony.  Groups will make the most progress on tough issues when dialogue migrates to the “the sweet spot” – a place where all parties partake in the conversation with equal parts candor and curiosity.

As a non-partisan organization, CHI stays above the political fray by providing objective information that policymakers on both sides of the aisle can use to make evidence-based decisions. Yet by understanding some of the tools for facilitating non-defensive dialogue, our team is better prepared to help lawmakers find a middle ground and get real traction on tough health care policy issues.

Weber will conduct a workshop for lawmakers at December’s Hot Issues in Health Care – the invitation-only conference that CHI hosts for lawmakers – and will share ways to improve collaboration and problem-solving amid political and philosophical differences. It promises to be a highly useful session for those who are on the front lines of health care policy and deal with controversy on a daily basis.

Weber’s first book, Conversational Capacity: The Secret To Building Winning Teams That Perform When The Pressure Is On, is scheduled to come out next year.  We look forward to his session with lawmakers.