Episode 7:
Difficult Conversations
Detroit, Michigan, USA

Detroit Michigan, the birthplace of the automotive industry, has seen more upheaval than most American cities. We’ve witnessed Detroit go through all the possible stages: from building up to thriving to sharp decline and now resurgence. What helped Detroit emerge from the abyss? The ability to maneuver difficult conversations. In your role as leader, you will most likely encounter hardship at some point in time as your company navigates the marketplace. One thing that must happen when going through this kind of change: difficult conversations. How you handle these conversations sets the bar for your company’s ability to bounce back.

There are many types of difficult conversations you may have to lead. Whether you are in negotiations, having to discipline or lay off personnel, mediate between two parties or deliver bad news, your behavior sets the tone for your workplace.

It’s common to be fearful and procrastinate when you know you have to give someone bad news. We get deep into the psychology behind our fear response, how to master it and how to prepare for those uncomfortable meetings.

Sometimes vulnerability can be your best asset in those uncomfortable situations. Allowing those you lead to see your humanity and taking ownership of your part in a situation where warranted, are skills that every high performing leader must acquire. Learn how to overcome barriers and turn foes into friends.

In this episode we also take a look at world-renowned researcher and scientist Dr. John Gottman’s list of four types of reactive behaviors:


Assess your own behavior in a tough conversation. Are you listening? Have you asked the person you are in conflict with to join you in seeking a solution?

For the most positive outcome, you will follow these five steps:

1: Affirm the relationship
2: Learn where they are coming from
3: Label the problem, and empathize with them
4: Be “for” something they’ve said
5: Find a solution.

Though difficult conversations are challenging, they are opportunities for growth and connection. We will guide you through looking in the rearview mirror at one of your own experiences, then set you up with an action plan for the conversations that lay before you.

Sample Curriculum Tasks:

An excellent leader knows how to balance empathy with truth, and finesse a difficult conversation with grace. Become a master of the sticky situation.

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