Conducting Difficult Conversations

Course Description


“A difficult conversation is a situation in which at least two parties are engaged where (a) there are differing opinions, perceptions, and needs/wants, (b) feelings and emotions run strong, and (c) the consequences or stakes are significant.” — J. Russell (2009).

Difficult conversations often become emotionally charged. Consequently, fear of how the conversation may go can put people off tackling them altogether.

Course aims:

  • Provide delegates with pragmatic approaches to prepare for and conduct difficult conversations;
  • Encourage self-reflection to identify and control personal reactions to difficult conversations.

Delivery approach: Heavy focus on practical skills development using work-related scenarios and exercises. Limited use of MS Powerpoint.

Workshop Content

  • What is a difficult conversation?;
  • Personal responses to difficult conversations;
  • Common mistakes;
  • Transactional Analysis: Eric Bearne’s Model (incl. application);
  • Prepare & structure a difficult conversation;
  • Communication styles and choice of phrasing;
  • Aiming to listen and understand;
  • Reaching an agreement;
  • De-escalating aggression or defensive responses;
  • Effectively ending the conversation;
  • Skills Practice;
  • Course Summary.


We offer a free 1hr no-obligation consultation by phone or Zoom (or at your premises if in greater Belfast) to discuss your requirements.