Managing challenging conversations.

Learn and master the skills and tools great coaches use to communicate effectively through pressure and conflict.

World-class faculty

Our faculty have applied these skills under pressure at crucial moments in their careers - including preparation for Olympic competition.

Trusted by the best

Our partnership with the Smith School of Business at Queen's University has delivered our coaching programs to executives for over 20 years.

Sticks under pressure

Participants not only learn a structural approach for a productive conversation - they learn crucial emotion regulation skills for when the heat inevitably rises and tempers flare.

A practical model for confronting

Challenging conversations are unavoidable in life and in business. Managing Challenging Conversations is a comprehensive communications course that equips leaders to be effective in any conversation they need to have, challenging or otherwise.

This program provides a comprehensive, step by step, process for preparation and delivery of a difficult conversation and teaches the communication skills required to keep the conversation on track and maximise the opportunities inherent in a potentially conflictual intervention.

A key skill in any difficult conversation, no matter how mild or severe, is the ability to manage reactivity in oneself and in the other. A combination of all of the above skills is what allows a leader to be an effective communicator, and coach, in situations that range from mildly uncomfortable to very difficult. In other words, this program will equip leaders to communicate effectively in any situation where they may be feeling some pressure themselves.

On completion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Reflect deeply on their own responses to uncomfortable conversations, using tools like the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument to understand their personal conflict-handling styles.
  • Recognize behaviors that negatively impact conversations, and replace them with approaches that encourage positive outcomes.
  • Master communication skills vital for effective dialogue, including active listening, effective questioning, blending and non-verbal acuity.
  • Monitor and control their own emotional reactions in real-time, preventing personal biases from derailing discussions.
  • Adapt to resistance and emotional reactions from others by employing strategies that defuse tension and promote understanding.
  • Leverage peer coaching to analyze and plan for a real challenging conversation they need to have.

Meet the facilitators

  • Garry Watanabe

    Garry Watanabe is an expert on coaching and performance psychology with a wealth of experience working under the peak of pressure in both business and sport. Learn more

  • Karyn Garossino

    Karyn is an Olympic figure skater with a Master's Degree in psychology and adult education - and boundless enthusiasm. Learn more

  • Jacques Charuest

    Jacques Charuest has thirty years of Human Resources experience, working with, and for, organizations of all shapes and sizes. Learn more

  • Dane Jensen

    Dane is the CEO of Third Factor, an acclaimed speaker, instructor at the University of North Carolina, and a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review. Learn more

Upcoming open enrollment programs

Managing Challenging Conversations – Queen’s Executive Education

Explore the principles of effective feedback and productive confronting and learn a set of skills that you can use to have challenging conversations remotely in a way that minimizes defensiveness and delivers positive results, in a half-day online workshop.

Sep 17, 2024 — Register

Jan 15, 2025 — Register

Learn more.

Get the fact sheet on Managing Challenging Challenging Conversations.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our perspectives