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Difficult Conversations // Skills Programs

Learning Objectives

This one day workshop gives participants the opportunity to learn a common language and set of skills and tools for holding productive conversations with peers and managers that builds mutual understanding and commitment.

By the end of this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Describe the impact of inferences and assumptions on communication
  • Identify the common biases that limit understanding and what we can do to overcome them
  • Define the importance of objective vs. subjective integrity and the value of trust in conversations that matter
  • Apply the skills of inquiry and advocacy during difficult conversations
  • Recognize and adjust to different communication styles to increase mutual understanding
  • Articulate the issue that is of concern in order to increase their effectiveness




  • Introduction
  • Learning objectives

Introduction to Model

  • The three key areas
  • Define conversations that matter
  • Go figure activity – accelerating understanding

Ladder of Inference

  • Uncritical Inference test
  • Ladder of inference
  • Confirmation bias
  • Tools of inquiry and advocacy


  • Subjective and objective integrity
  • Taking accountability for what you say

Inquiry Skills

  • Assessment
  • Classic listening skill review

Advocacy Skills

  • Assessment
  • Questioning skills – our parents are to blame
  • Curse of Knowledge activity
  • What’s the issue and impact?
  • Practice applying advocacy and listening skills in trios

Communication Styles

  • Color lingo assessment
  • Style activity
  • Difficult conversation tendencies

Workshop Close

  • Job aid
  • Workshop evaluation