Difficult Conversations 101

Difficilt Conversations 101

What do we mean by handling difficult conversations?


Where people are together there’s conflict, be it over incompatible goals, or less tangible issues such as distrust, dislike or rivalry. But, handled well, those difficult conversations and conflicts can be a source of growth.

They can strengthen relationships, uncover hidden problems and reveal new solutions that might otherwise have been overlooked. The most destructive conflict is often that which isn’t being discussed. A good leader needs to embrace disagreements – whatever they’re about – and encourage everyone to speak up. This involves ensuring the parties involved focus on interests, not positions, to reveal what’s really at stake. Time and effort spent unpicking this is always time well spent. 


This is one of the marks of a truly safe person: they are confrontable

Henry Cloud

More information about the course

4 weeks
15 hours
100% virtual
20++ (scalable)


Developing the basics of handling difficult conversations


In this 101 Mission we’ll focus on how to:

•  Prepare for difficult conversations.
•  Defuse and manage conflicts.
•  Mitigate conflict conversations using improvisation techniques.
•  Build trust as the foundation for resilient relationships.
•  Stay cool, calm and composed under pressure. 


Mission overview – what will you learn?

Part 1: The Benefits of Healthy Conflict
Part 2: The Assertive Communication Style
Part 3: Improvisation and the ‘Yes, And’ Technique
Part 4: Collaboration over Compromise


Models referenced:

Thomas Killman Model
Yes, and...
Communication styles
Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach


Difficult Conversations 101 – example experiential events

Conflict Forum Theatre - Interactive Masterclass with Actors

Even the best workplaces have their stresses and conflicts. But whether it’s a genuine difference of opinion or a misjudged tone of voice, they needn’t get ugly. In this session, you’ll look at a variety of conflict situations, brought to life by actors. We’ll use these to explore ways of effectively defusing and managing conflict based on the Thomas Kilmann ‘assertiveness and cooperativeness’ model — the balancing act between satisfying your own needs and satisfying the other persons concerns.


Learning outcomes — through this event you’ll:
  • Learn how to keep calm in difficult situations and to see conflict in a more positive light.

  • See conflict as one route to strengthening relationships and building trust. 

  • Have fewer sleepless nights (hopefully) and lower blood pressure.

The Collaborative Leader - Interactive Masterclass with Actors

It’s a funny old business, leadership, but you can be sure that no one wants to be labelled the office clown. This engaging and interactive session takes inspiration from the world of improvisational comedy. You’ll explore how being more open and collaborative makes for being a better leader. In this session, you’ll also study and practise the acceptance principle and use the simple but powerful technique of saying “Yes, and…”.


Learning outcomes — through this event you’ll:

  • Learn skills to unlock creativity in yourself and others. 

  • Swiftly move into a more agile mindset.

  • Stay calm under pressure.

Trust and Inclusion Workshop 

For this event, we look beyond the labels of diversity and inclusion and unpack the complex issues involved in truly opening up the workplace. Together, we’ll analyse how organisations succeed best when diversity is framed as a strategic objective and not just a talking point. You’ll also examine how true diversity means discovering, valuing and learning how to combine differences, and how true inclusion means seeing disagreement and conflict as a natural part of your working life, to be valued and conducted constructively and with respect.  

Learning outcomes — through this event you’ll:

  • Understand the five drivers of effective collaboration and how to foster them.

  • Self-assess your current state of collaboration and areas where you’d like to move forward.

  • Have a personal plan for taking their collaborative practice forward.

  • Learn practical tools for building trust with clients and colleagues.

  • Develop shared language and understanding around trust. 

Find out more information about our courses, download our brochure or book a call with our team.

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Aanglo American

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Roger Minton, Head of Leadership Development, Anglo American 

Related 101 Missions

Inclusion 101
Relationships 101
Communication 101


Book a call to learn more about our leadership and management courses

For more information or to speak with our learning team, please fill out your details below. Or please feel free to email courses@futuretalentlearning.com