Do you sometimes have difficult conversations at work that don’t go as planned? Do they become emotional rollercoasters where everyone involved gets more frustrated and disheartened? Are you avoiding a conversation you really need to have? 

This workshop will help you to manage your difficult conversations at work. You will be introduced to a framework for structuring your conversations and discover what is at stake for both parties. You will also learn how to analyse, prepare for and begin your conversation, as well as staying on track and agreeing actions.

Who should attend?

Anyone who needs to have difficult conversations at work.


After taking this workshop you should be able to:

  • say what is at stake during difficult conversations
  • draw on a range of tools and techniques to manage your conversations more effectively
  • use difficult conversations to develop relationships with your team and help people to grow

Course Outline

Introduction and overview

  • What are some conversations difficult?
  • The need for difficult conversations
  • Case study – your difficult conversation
  • Managing difficult conversations tool

Setting the context

  • Considering human needs
  • Introducing the 3 conversations: ‘What happened’, ‘Feelings’ and ‘Identity’
  • Understanding the ladder of inference
  • Conflict handling preferences

Planning your difficult conversation

  • Knowing your purpose and goals
  • Truth, intention and blame
  • Feelings, emotions and reaction patterns
  • Defining identities – what’s at stake?
  • Difficult conversations framework – six key steps

Opening your difficult conversation

  • When and how to raise an issue
  • Starting from the ‘third story’
  • Opening a conversation

Staying on track

  • Communicating effectively
  • Anticipating reactions, acknowledging emotions
  • Showing empathy
  • The five levels of listening

Problem-solving and agreeing actions

  • Exploring ideas and options
  • Being open minded
  • Building on their contributions
  • Agreeing next steps and follow up

Practice your difficult conversation

  • Practical exercises, self-reflection and feedback

Course information

Public Training Dates 2019  
March 4-5 May 16-17 July 1-2
September 16-17 November 28-29  

Length: 2 days

Venue: Professional Development Centre, Toa Payoh

Course fees: $954.44 (including GST)