“A good conversation…builds trust, is fair, and shows love and appreciation”…

…”It allows people the time to speak, means we listen with positive intent, we ask the right questions to open it up, not shut it down, and we slow down enough to observe what is being said and not.”

Throughout our time helping people work safely, we have noticed that the art of conversation is a skill some people seem to be born with, and some of us need help to develop. Some people are really good listeners, some people are really good at asking probing questions, some people are really good story tellers.  But almost all of us struggle with one or more of these skills at some time.

There is no single way to have a good conversation. We have experimented with a number of tried and tested methods. You may well be experiencing different methods like huddles, briefings, debriefings or handover tools like SBARR (a checklist that helps you look at the patient’s situation, background and share your assessment in the hope of a response and recommendation).

We have learnt that there are various factors and conditions that can help no matter what method or tool you use. These thread throughout all methods and apply as much for a group, or even a really large organisation-wide conversation, as they do for a conversation one human being to another.

Expect a conversation about working safely to be messy at times – it may not move in a straight line and issues and opportunities can bounce around in what can appear to be a random way. The people involved in the conversation can help make sense of this by listening and over time drawing connections, this is helped by asking the right questions or using imagery and metaphors to clarify what is being said.

Explore more on how helping people talk to each other can help a safety culture grow…

The Kitchen Table

Things That Get in the Way

Capturing What is Being Said

Bringing People Together

Values and Behaviours

Why it Matters


Asking Questions