Tough Conversations Under the Right Terms

Voltaire was a prolific French writer in the 1700’s who was also quite outspoken in the area of social reform, despite stiff penalties for being such an advocate.  His writings and his advocacy against hypocrisies of the day angered more than one king, which often sent him scrambling for a new home.

As you may imagine, Voltaire was no stranger to tough conversations.  A lot of wisdom on the subject is contained in his simple quote, “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” Voltaire liked to know what he was up against.

Most doctors and teams feel the same way.  If you are facing a tough conversation with a staff member about performance, for example, insist the staff member come prepared to discuss, from her perspective, what areas of performance need improvement.  Remove her from being a passive observer about an issue she created and she may more willingly participate in the solution—and she may surprise you with how much of the solution she comes up with on her own.

You also define the terms of the conversation by ultimately deciding ahead of time the direction you want to take.  What outcomes do you want to accomplish?  What is in the best interests of the practice?  Your desired outcomes guide your approach.

Voltaire’s advice also rings true when the staff needs to talk with you.  Challenge your team to come to you with a solution-based approach: how do they propose to resolve the issue?  Also, challenge your staff to hold you accountable for making time to talk with them.  Unavailable doctors create fertile soil for disharmony, and disharmony affects your bottom line.

Effective leadership requires successful communication, and under the right terms you can succeed with tough conversations.


Call today to learn how Fluence can help you with your dental practice at 503-245-0766.

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