Managing Difficult Conversations Training

Tough Talk: Planning and Managing Difficult Conversations

Course Outcomes

This communication skills course for diplomatically addressing conflict will:

  • Outline sources of three categories of conflict.
  • Suggest a framework for holding a difficult conversation.
  • Provide participants with examples of diplomatic language.
  • Give suggestions for managing a range of reactions.

Course Overview

From time to time, tough conversations are a necessary part of good communication. Knowing how to be both direct and diplomatic is an important skill. This course focuses on the difficult conversations and how to positively address a range of issues and behaviors with coworkers, customers, and other people in the workplace.

Program Objectives

At this program’s conclusion, participants should be able to:

  • Explain why people avoid conflict.
  • Describe three sources of conflict: misunderstanding, negotiable disagreements, and non-negotiable positions.
  • Identify issues that should be addressed and plan a conversation.
  • Diplomatically address conflict using a five-step process.
  • Use “I” messages.
  • Deescalate conversations.
  • Manage blame, avoidance, and other negative reactions.

The following outline highlights some of the course’s key learning points. As part of your training program, we will modify content as needed to meet your business objectives. Upon request, we will provide you with a copy of the participant materials prior to the session(s).

Workshop Outline

Why We’re Not Talking: Understanding Barriers

This program begins with a discussion about diplomacy and difficult conversations. We will examine factors that make tough topics difficult and why we avoid them. Follow that activity, we’ll look at three types of conflict: misunderstandings, negotiable disagreements, and non-negotiable positions. We will then discuss the extent to which participants can affect change when addressing each.

Diplomatic Dialog: Being Direct and Sensitive 

Diplomacy is the art of dealing with people effectively and with sensitivity at the same time. This course segment examines examples of diplomacy and what it means to be diplomatic when addressing conflict.  

Know What You Are After: Establishing a Goal

If you don’t know what you are after, there is little reason to confront an issue, problem, or behavior. This part of the workshop examines strategy, long-term outcomes, and the importance of defining the desired outcome before starting a conversation.

Conducting Conversations: Framing Discussions

There is a right way to address issues with others. In this seminar segment, we will explore appropriate language for opening conversations and positioning discussions to generate buy-in from others. Next, we will practice a five-step process for addressing problems and resolving a conflict.

“I” Messages and Other Tools: Leveraging Language

Blame, hostility, and absolutes can quickly take a conversation in the wrong direction. Conversely, cooperative language focuses on solving problems and the future. Cooperative language also demonstrates trust and respect. In this portion of the workshop, we will focus on language to avoid and language to employ when addressing conflict.  Specifically, we will examine such tools as “I” messages, fact-focused words, and reflective statements.

Anticipating Responses: Handling Reactions to Confrontation

There are several reactions people can have when confronted with feedback. In this part of the course, we will explore possible reactions. We will discuss hidden agendas, sources of negative emotions, guidelines for managing such reactions as minimizing, blame transfer, and shutting down, with respect, and tactics for deescalating.

By the conclusion of this course, participants should be able to confidently and comfortably conduct tough conversations with coworkers, customers, and other people in the workplace.

Available Formats

  • Half-Day Training Course

Onsite Training Course Reminders

Our instructor-led training courses are available to private groups.  These workshops are not offered in a public seminar format.  Please contact us to speak with a facilitator about your needs and bringing training to your organization.

We offer training in the District of Columbia and the following US states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

We also travel to Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Canada, Central America, Continental Europe, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom.

Please contact us about your location.

Onsite Workshops