Tel: 0844 394 8877

Boulden Management Consultants

Core Communications Skills  >  1-Day Courses

Constructive Conversations

Conducting a difficult conversation

How to discuss sensitive topics (and deal with difficult players)

One-Day Course

Course Brochure Download
Constructive Conversations brochure
  • Learn how to stay calm in stressful situations
  • Understand the importance of effective scripting and rehearsal
  • Master communication tools for dealing with challenging people


The Constructive Conversations workshop is about how to talk with someone with the intention to make things ‘better’ in some way, and to do so with calmness, tact and empathy. This is especially important when discussing sensitive topics (or dealing with difficult people). The training will help delegates to ‘connect’ with their counterparts, defuse tension and work towards a win/win outcome.

Learning objectives

By attending this highly interactive one-day course you will:

  • Gain an insight into the conflict resolution strategies
  • Understand how to appreciate the other person’s point of view
  • Acquire methods for using your breath to manage your emotions
  • Master powerful techniques for countering aggressive behavior
  • Learn a six-step planning process for broaching a sensitive issue

Who should attend?

Any employee who wants to have a thorough refresher course on how to communicate effectively when faced with challenging situations. Also, those who have had little formal skills training and who wish to acquire a methodical and professional approach to constructive conversations.

Day 1

Understanding conflict

Appreciating how and why conflict occurs and understanding the five most commonly adopted ‘conflict resolution strategies’.

  • The conflict scale
  • Sources of conflict
  • Conflict resolution strategies

Exercise: analysing a conflict situation


How to stay ‘calm’ and ‘centred’ when faced with a challenging situation or ‘difficult’ person.

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy model (ACT)
  • Controlled Breathing
  • Emotional Reframing

Pairs exercise: understanding ACT


How putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and acknowledging their concerns can defuse conflict situations.

  • Appreciating other people’s requirements
  • The ‘What’s in it for me?’ assessment
  • The Pre-Mortem Technique
  • Matching Values

Pairs exercise: matching values

Tailoring your comments

Appreciating how to tailor your conversation to account for individual preferences and cultural differences.

  • Cultural Assessments
  • Work style preferences

Exercise: role-play on delivering the same message in different ways

Assertive communication techniques

Learning specific tools for communicating effectively with people in general, and with difficult people in particular:

  • Behavioural Labelling
  • Fogging
  • Assertive Listening
  • Assertive Inquiry
  • Workable Compromise
  • Three-Step Assertive Technique
  • Broken Record
  • Assertive Delay
  • Negative Consequences

Pairs exercise: mastering the assertive techniques

Ladder scripts

Understanding what is going on in a difficult situation and planning the sequence in which the assertive tools should be deployed to manage the ensuing conversation.

  • Scripting and rehearsal
  • The Ladder Script planning process

Pairs exercise: preparing a Ladder Script

Role plays

Trying out the techniques in a roleplay situation and getting feedback from colleagues.



All our programmes are run on an in-house basis and (where appropriate) we conduct interviews and facilitate focus groups to gather information with which to write bespoke case studies that precisely reflect the culture and work environment of the participants.


Feedback is based upon peer review using a Boulden assessment checklist. Completing the assessment checklist is not only valuable to the people involved in a given case study, it also helps those completing them to gain an in-depth understanding of the building blocks that make up an outstanding communicator.

Course structure

There is an option of following the workshop with a three month long Action Learning project to link the lessons from the training back into the workplace. If this option is selected there is a closure workshop at the end of the project phase where delegates present how they have applied the techniques learned on the course into their daily work routines.

Remote Training

All of our workshops can be delivered as Remote Training via e-learning modules plus Zoom based virtual workshops. Please see our Virtual Training page for more information.


Further information on this course is available by contacting
Boulden Management Consultants:
via our Contact form
Tel: 0844 394 8877