When you pay attention to the way you set up a conversation, many problems will take care of themselves. Here, we’ve collected a handful of the fundamental skills we use constantly: Ask-Tell-Ask, Tell me more, Asking permission.

These fundamentals—and all the skills we use—reflect our principles:

  • Start with the patient’s agenda.
  • Track the emotion data as well as the cognitive data.
  • Move the conversation forward one step at a time
  • Make your empathy visible (and audible).
  • Clarify what you can do first–before you talk about what you can’t do.
  • Agree on ‘big picture’ goals before specific medical interventions.
  • Give your complete, undivided attention to your patient for key moments.

You can’t do all of these at once—in fact you can tangle yourself up if you try—but these principles articulate where we are aiming. Check out one of the videos or the downloadable chapter and pick one skill to try.