Setting the atmosphere for conversations

robeToday I made my annual trek to the Ruth J. Spear Breast Center for my annual mammogram to have my chicken cutlets compressed to the width of my iPad. While I understand it’s a first world problem, I wonder, as I do every year, why the sum total diagnosis of a woman’s health is settled by reviewing photographs of her smashed breasts and cells scraped from her vagina. But I digress.

While waiting for my technician I made two observations:

  1. You can’t be shivering cold and have a meaningful conversation about your breast health.
  2. It’s difficult to have a serious conversation with a medical professional while you’re–let’s just say it–topless. There’s something about this state of undress that screams vulnerable.

These observations led me to draw some conclusions about conversational environments:
The best conversational outcomes are achieved when the playing field is equal. Everyone feels comfortable and empowered to speak up. Elephants have been ushered out of the room and the emperor is either fully clothed or admittedly naked.

Everyone understands the expectations. Everyone understands the rules, spoken or unspoken. And everyone is comfortable.

Makes me wonder what kinds of things are forgotten or left unspoken at medical appointments because the patient’s brain is preoccupied with insignificant details that matter not one iota to her health. And then I wonder the same about interviews, client meetings and team meetings.

 

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