How to prepare for difficult conversations

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Having difficult conversations with your patients and their families can be challenging. However, with the proper preparation, you can manage these emotional situations effectively and compassionately.

Hayden Richards, MD MBBS FACEM MPhil
Hayden Richards, MD MBBS FACEM MPhil
28th Mar 2023 • 1m read

When preparing for difficult conversations, it is crucial to understand the three main reasons why we consider them challenging. First, these kinds of interactions can spark emotions in our patients and ourselves. Not knowing how to manage these emotions properly and compassionately can be stressful. The second reason is time. As busy clinicians, not knowing how much of our time these conversations will take can make us feel pressured. The third reason is that they may involve some friction or disagreement between patient and provider. This lesson will teach you how to anticipate potential challenges and best prepare for difficult conversations.


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There are specific and definable skills that can help you communicate with your patients. Every clinician should be able to build trust, adapt their communication to patients of different backgrounds, and structure difficult conversations. Mastering these skills will make you a better clinician.

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