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“The clinic opened my mind up to planning how to say something rather than just what to say… very effective with very useful tools… Thank you for a really informative two days.” Steve Hearn, Qld Health... “Easy to follow and useful... the structure worked well and the resource guide is a great set of tools for ongoing work. I think it really has informed some of my conversations in the past week.” Cathie Peut, Centrelink

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Great structure and content, presented in everyday language (no ‘highfalutin’ psych terminology or theories!) with an easy-to-follow guidebook that’s a valuable reference. I wish I’d attended a program like this when I was much younger”  Bill Ohl, Dept of Employment & Training


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1-Day fast-track clinic for busy leaders

Tackling Tough Talks


“A positive, useful experience with a solid guidebook to build upon the skills used. Both days were a good mix of information, group discussion and private thought and I liked the way you broke from the prepared course to deal with issues as they arrived.” Lex McBean, Forest Lake State High School

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You might also be interested to know about...

Building Conversational Confidence

Issues #2, #11


Dealing with Difficult Discussions

Dealing with Difficult Discussions...

No matter how conversationally competent we are, we all have difficult moments when things just don’t 'go right’ no matter what we try. Often, it’s the conversations we dread most that we handle the most clumsily.

What's a difficult conversation for you? Giving feedback? Raising sensitive or emotional issues? Asserting yourself positively? Dealing with dysfunctional behaviour at work? Handling a disgruntled customer or colleague? Dealing with an emotional employee? Conducting a performance appraisal?  Tackling toxic team behaviour that's getting you and others down?

We all have to deal with conversations we’d rather avoid. But difficult discussions poorly handled or avoided sap energy, detract from performance, erode work relations and impact stressfully on you. Apart from your own anxiety, work climate becomes tense, trust evaporates, misunderstandings multiply and productivity plummets.

Difficult discussions are by nature unpredictable. While there are no set formulas or quick-fixes guaranteed to work every-time, there are common-sense tools and techniques that can help you handle difficult discussions more calmly, confidently and constructively. 

Our conversational coaching master class on Dealing with Difficult Discussions offers you a practical, step-by-step process to prepare for, practise and improve those conversations you find the most challenging – by applying some simple tools and techniques that will help you face up to having those difficult discussions you should’ve been having all along.

It can help you understand what makes some discussions so difficult, what your own tendencies are when the conversational heat goes up and equip you with:


Useful insights into the deep patterns at play in difficult discussions, how to break the blame cycle and how to handle strong emotions more authentically


A robust, 7-stage roadmap to successfully navigate your way through difficult discussions with less anxiety and more confidence


A set of easy-to-apply tools to help defuse difficult discussions and convert destructive confrontation into constructive conversations


Durable tips and techniques to avoid common mistakes that crop up in difficult discussions


What are you like in Difficult Discussions?

Try our short Difficult Discussions Quiz to reflect on how you generally are when conversations become contentious..


What this Program covers:

This practice-oriented 2-day clinic will show you a measured approach for turning down the heat and defusing difficult moments. It aims to help you deal more confidently with difficult conversations through:


Exploring the dynamics behind difficult discussions and other conflict situations


Identifying common mistakes that crop up in difficult discussions and how to avoid them


Practising tools to defuse difficult situations and resolve differences


Finding ways to raise tough topics without raising so much defensiveness


Learning to handle your own and other’s strong emotions and increase resilience in the face of anger


Developing strategies to treat ‘difficult’ people and tricky situations in a more balanced way


Setting personal goals to handle difficult discussions better and work out ways to improve your approach through practice

Discover new and different ways to handle a difficult discussion, learn how to approach them with more care, calm and confidence and get new insights into ways to deal with difficult people and tricky conversational moments.


Is this Clinic right for You?

Difficult discussions come in all shapes and sizes. What’s a difficult conversation for you? If you said yes to any of the examples at the top of this page – then this could be a ‘must-do’ clinic for you!  Dealing with Difficult Discussions will benefit anyone who wants to increase their conversational mastery and learn specific tools and techniques for handling different kinds of difficult discussions more confidently and constructively – whether at work, home or in the broader community: managers, team leaders, committee members, project leaders, customer relations officers, community groups, teachers, facilitators, trainers


*Note: A 1-day fast-track version of this clinic "Tackling Tough Talks" is occasionally offered in selected regions and in-house on request.  This full 2-day program is recommended unless budget or time available is an issue as it allows more complete coverage of the topic and a good deal more practise time for trying out the tools.


8 For a specific focus on performance review situations, see our tailored master class - Positive Performance Conversations...  

8 Download Dealing with Difficult Discussions program Brochure  PDF  or Course Directory outline

8 See our current Schedule of Public Programs for dates and locations of upcoming clinics near you.  Scheduled Dates

8 Register On-Line   or Enquire about an In-House clinic for your team 

8 Read more in our conversation FactFiles, in particular FactFile-8: Difficult Discussions


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