As a practical matter, I never launch into any particular conversation without first and foremost setting it up. It’s important you set it up because, by setting it up, it gives you the opportunity to manage the perceptions and manage the environment within which the conversation is going to be held. By doing that, you frame the conversation, the expectations of the conversation, and what the hoped for outcomes will be.
That’s why, for example, I very often spend about 3-5 minutes reciting the history of how we got where we were in that conversation to make sure everybody was talking within the same conversation and frame of mind.
Original writing date: November 19, 2004