Difficult conversations

The best educational leaders do not shy away from holding difficult conversations.

A video argues why it is important to confront the facts and hold 'difficult conversations'.

A protocol is provided to help you structure these difficult conversations.

When and why should we have difficult conversations?

Watch the following video by Steve Munby who was Director of the National College of Leadership in the UK. He sets the context for having difficult conversations.

Most people do not find it comfortable to have difficult conversations but they are sometimes necessary. These difficult conversations could be about:

  • saying 'No'
  • handling conflict
  • delivering bad news
  • effecting change (and handling resistance to change)

Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most is a book from the Harvard Negotiation Project. Click here to access an overview of the book.

The authors have their own consultancy firm, Triad Consulting Group. On their website you can find some very helpful frameworks for planning difficult conversations.

Reflect and discuss as a team

  • When was the last time you had a difficult conversation? What did it feel like? What was the reason and what the impact?
  • When was the last time you avoided a difficult conversation? Why?
  • What are the difficult conversations you need to have in the school?

Protocols for having difficult conversations

Harvard Project Zero use a Ladder of Feedback protocol to help have constructive conversations. Go to Feedback to access the protocol.

Active listening is an essential element of good communication. Active listening techniques are central to conflict resolution. They contain both verbal and non-verbal elements. Active Listening Techniques of Hostage & Crisis Negotiators is a good article setting out the various elements involved in active listening. It provides a useful framework for working with colleagues.

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