Big Stakes: Navigating Conflict and Tricky Conversations

Speaker: Deborah Grayson Riegel, director of learning, The Boda Group

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could make difficult issues with clients, co-workers and even family members magically disappear? All of us need effective strategies for making tricky conversations – from giving negative feedback, to bringing up emotionally-charged topics, to admitting you’ve made a mistake – less stressful and awkward.

In this interactive workshop, you will practice useful tips to help tackle any tricky conversation without risking or ruining the relationship. You also will learn what makes conversations tricky and stressful (both in general and for you specifically); ways in which we knowingly and unknowingly contribute to conflict; specific language to use that can de-escalate and diffuse common challenging conversations; and how to manage emotions (yours and theirs). Importantly, you also will be better able to identify whether having a difficult conversation with a particular person is worth the time and energy. We also will include the Relationship Bank Account, David Rock's SCARF (status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness) Model, Charles Feltman's 4 Elements of Trust (sincerity, reliability, competence and care) and others. You will leave this session with new confidence and competence to address what you may have been avoiding. 

Among this topics to be covered in this session: what makes a conversation difficult for you, the three stakes in any conversation, productive vs nonproductive conflict, the role of trust in navigating tricky conversations, creating a culture of trust, how to avoid “avoiding behaviors,” how to have a difficult conversation and giving direct feedback.

Participants will receive a link to complete the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, and will be asked to print their results and bring them to the workshop.

Seminar includes:

  • Lunch
  • Results of your Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
  • A compendium of articles, checklists and tools that will enhance your ability to de-escalate conversations, help you to determine whether or not to have a difficult conversation, ask questions that can dramatically improve any relationship and more

Seminar fee:
$299 (Early registration)
$375 (Regular registration)
$425 (Late/onsite registration)


  • Identify and manage the three things that are at stake in every difficult conversations
  • Differentiate between productive and unproductive conflict
  • Apply strategies to build trusting relationships with others and repair relationships that have been damaged

Competency alignment:
This seminar complements the following competencies as described in the HBA Leadership Competency Framework.
2. Communicates effectively
7. Influences and persuades