2018-2019 Graduate Catalog

EDUA 5631 Framing Difficult Conversations

No one really likes difficult conversations, but as educators, we cannot avoid them. Whether they are between teachers and students, colleagues, administrators, or parents, they are inevitable at some point or another. While these conversations can be uncomfortable at first, the results can be beneficial for everyone, especially when at least one person in the exchange is prepared. The best influence we can have on any situation––whether we are the transmitter of the feedback or the receiver of feedback––is our demeanor when we show up for the exchange; bringing a positive and professional attitude and having systems in place will support a constructive conversation.

Sensitive topics tend to lead to difficult conversations, and most teachers can recall a recent exchange that they wish had not occurred. Strong feelings are often concomitant with difficult conversations: blame, insecurity, defensiveness, anxiety, and just plain stress. As we become more aware of provocations and better equipped for framing difficult conversations, opportunities manifest for all parties to discover how these exchanges can produce a boon: strengthened relationships.

This course begins with the history of communication and then lays the groundwork for students to move into a place of curiosity with more confidence, feeling like they can handle the uncertainty that comes their way on any given day. Clearly explaining issues can make a significant impact on how a conversation turns out; the rich resources, innovative recommendations, and empowering exercises you will encounter throughout the course will show you how. You will learn how to transform even the most difficult conversation into one that not only allows you to breathe deeply and sleep better at night but also helps you feel satisfied with the exchange’s outcome.