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6 Key Thoughts Around Person-Centered Conversations

Dr. Becky Lang

January 9, 2020

Are you finding that you are not getting the engagement from those you are talking with?  Are you finding that patients, clients, family members are short with their responses with you?  Are you finding that perhaps they are actually disengaged in the conversation?


As we think about how to have more engaging conversations with others, there are a few principles of person centered conversations to keep in mind:


Who is doing most of the talking? 

Is it you, the client, patient, parent, student, staff member or family member?  We want the other person to be doing most of the talking.  We want to ask open ended and evoking questions that pull information from the other person.  It is a pull rather than a push.


Use open ended questions.  

Ask questions such as what, tell me and describe. Use these rather than do you, have you, is there, could you.  Use questions that can’t be answered with a yes, no or a one fact answer.


Use positive forward, evoking questions such as:

What would that look like if you were able to make that change?

What would life be like if you were able to make that change?

If you were able to make that change, what would you notice?


Before we provide information or resources, find out what they already know.

“What do you know about how this medication works?”

“What do you know about the resources available to you?”

“Describe what you understand about the connection between…?”


Ask permission.

Reflect or affirm what the other person said and ask permission before giving information or resources you believe would be helpful.  

“Is it alright if I share with you three possible options you might consider?”

“Can I share with you what we know about the connection between …?”


Ask for clarification.

At the end of the conversation, to assist in pulling the conversation together, ask what the other person took away.  

“Just so I make sure I was clear, tell me what you took away from today?”

“Tell me what was helpful about what we talked about today?”  


Following and using a few of these key principles may shift your conversation from expert centered to person-centered.  You may find out more information and enjoy a deeper, richer and more productive conversation with others.  


If you know of others, perhaps your leadership team or a friend, who would be interested in learning more or receiving this and other blog posts, please feel free to forward to those individuals.

If you are interested in bringing me to your organization for a refresh training or coming to a public training, I’d love to hear from you. Send me a comment or email at beckylang@icloud.com.

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