In order to engage someone in more productive conversation, especially on a topic that may be
difficult or challenging, consider where you are going to sit, relative to them.
Sitting directly across from them will feel confrontational, creating more of an 'us' versus 'them' dynamic. Instead, consider sitting on the side of the table that is kitty-corner to them.
This position diminishes the confrontational feel and makes the conversation feel more collaborative. Changing the environment can help change the mood, which may be all that is needed to open the dialogue.