Difficult Conversations Course Overview

Difficult conversations don’t have to be that difficult but they do need to be handled sensitively. It is important that emotions and information are managed in an empathetic manner whilst still being able to get your message across in a calm and considerate manner. In this practical workshop we will explore how to plan and prepare for a difficult conversation as well as provide you with a 5 step process to assist in undertaking a difficult conversation.

Difficult conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values. Douglas Stone, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most


StressLess Learning works in partnership with clients to customise and refine all course content and duration to suit both organisational goals and individual learners requirements. All course outlines are therefore to be used as a guide only.

Target audience

Managers, team leaders and employees who need to prepare for and/or conduct difficult conversations.

Download the PDF Course Outline.

Course duration


Course Objectives

At the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Identify what may be a difficult conversation and the reasons why we avoid them
  • Plan for a difficult conversation
  • Develop a 5 step process to help guide the process
  • Send a clear assertive message
  • Demonstrate active listening and questioning skills
  • Be aware of and control emotion during the conversation
  • Search for positive outcomes and develop an action plan for future follow up

Difficult conversations

  • What is a difficult conversation?
  • I, we and it
  • Why do we avoid difficult conversations

Interpersonal communication skills

  • Components of communication
  • Word choice
  • Words to be aware of
  • Voice
  • Body language

Planning for a difficult conversation

  • Establish the purpose of the conversation
  • Focus on objectives

Assertive communication

  • What is assertiveness?
  • Becoming assertive
  • Benefits of being assertive
  • Communicating assertiveness
  • Fogging, Broken Record, Negative Inquiry & DESC scripting

The 5 steps of a difficult conversation

  1. Stating the issue
    • Initiating the conversation
    • Being assertive
  2. Listen and question
    • Listening habits
    • Listen to understand
    • Demonstrate listening
    • Questioning skills
    • Types of questions
  3. Acknowledge & validate
    • Acknowledgement
    • Cognitive dissonance
    • Controlling our emotions
    • Controlling other people’s emotions
  4. Solutions
    • Exploring solutions
  5. Close the conversation with commitment
    • Gaining commitment
    • Action planning
    • Follow up

Other Communication Skills Training

Communication Skills
MBTI(®) – Emotional Intelligence
MBTI(®) – Leadership

StressLess Learning, Communication Training Experts