Online Workshop

Making Difficult Conversations Easier

Full OMSSA Calendar     Upcoming Workshops     All Available Workshops

About this Online Workshop

The basic building block of all communication is the conversation. What, when, how and why we hold a conversation can have a profound impact on achieving our desired results.

But when the stakes are high, emotions run strong, or opinions conflict, we label these conversations as difficult. Whether we face difficult conversations with coworkers, clients, friends or family, invariably the same fear and apprehension comes over us the fear of failure or making matters worse.

During this two-part, online, interactive workshop, we will explore the construct, traps and pitfalls of difficult conversations, why they may go wrong and how to approach, plan and execute them in a more successful manner, using practical tips, tools and real-world examples.

By the conclusion, fear and apprehension of that difficult conversation will transform into confidence and encouragement.

This workshop is a mandatory requirement prior to registering for the Improve Your Listening Skills with the 4-Step Empathy Loop and is recommended prior to registering for our advanced Resolving Difficult Conversations workshop.

NOTE: This is an interactive, virtual workshop, which is different from a webinar. Participants will be expected to participate through voice and video, and to engage with each other and the facilitator in large and small group discussions, to learn from each other and practice skill development.

Learning Objectives

  • overcome barriers and turn conversations from difficult to collaborative
  • explore the structure of conversations and how they can either snare you or release you from "conflict traps"
  • become aware of conflict styles, personalities and emotions, and how each hinders or help conversations
  • learn effective and practical communication tools, including:
    • Avoiding communication "blockers"
    • First words to use
    • Agreeing vs. acknowledging
    • Framing and asking good questions
    • When to be empathetic, and when to be assertive
  • learn a simple yet powerful four-step technique to aid in having better and more collaborative conversations

Who Should Attend?

  • This workshop is well-suited for any human services professional.

Format and Duration

Two, two-hour online workshops over two back-to-back days

Workshop Dates and Registration

Please note: Participants who sign up for this foundational workshop have the option to add on the Improve Your Listening Skills with the 4-Step Empathy Loop workshop and get a discount code to save $25 when registering for this workshop.

This workshop is a mandatory requirement prior to registering for the Improve Your Listening Skills with the 4-Step Empathy Loop and is recommended prior to registering for our advanced Resolving Difficult Conversations workshop.

September 13-14, 2022

  • Part 1: Tuesday, September 13 | 10:00-12:00
  • Part 2: Wednesday, September 14 | 10:00-12:00
  • Registration cut off: September 9

Register Now


Technical Requirements

OMSSA will be hosting this virtual workshop using Zoom, an online, interactive platform that you can join straight from your web browser, or by downloading 'Zoom Client for Meetings' on your computer or tablet

Participants will be expected to join the workshop via both video and audio. Participants should therefore have access to a desktop computer, laptop computer or tablet with:

  • a webcam or built-in camera

  • a built-in microphone or a headphone jack where you can plug in a headset or earphones

We strongly recommend that participants use a headset or earphones with a built-in microphone in order to limit background noise. 

System requirements: Click here for more detailed information on system requirements from Zoom.

About the Facilitator

Sharad Kerur has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and Master of Industrial Relations from Queen's University, with a focus on negotiation theory and alternative dispute resolution methods.   

For over 30 years, Sharad held senior level positions in the union and association sectors. His most recent position was Executive Director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA), Canada's largest non-profit housing association. As a result, he has a strong grasp on the business of non-profit organizations and associations, and real-world experience in negotiation and mediation.

Sharad is Harvard-trained, having obtained a Certificate in Mediating Disputes and a Certificate in Negotiating Difficult Conversations from the Harvard Negotiation Institute (Harvard Law School) and also holds a Certificate in Dispute Resolution and an Advanced Certificate in Dispute Resolution, both from the York University in Toronto.

Sharad has a Q.Med (Qualified Mediator) designation from the ADR Institute of Canada and is also a Certified Workplace Fairness Analyst accredited by the Workplace Fairness Institute of Canada. He has also obtained a Certificate in Civil Procedures for Non-Lawyer Mediators from the ADR Institute of Ontario.

He is currently on the Community Mediation Roster and Associate Mediation Roster with St. Stephen's Community House (Conflict & Training), where he also serves as an instructor in their mediation and conflict resolution training programs. He has been a guest lecturer for Humber College's Alternative Dispute Resolution program and he serves as a Dispute Resolution Educator, coach and instructor for York University's continuing education program in dispute resolution.

More recently, Sharad developed and now leads his own consultancy firm known as Resolution Pathways, which assists people and organizations to resolve conflicts.    

With his knowledge, expertise, and experience, Sharad currently provides:

  • "understanding-based" mediation services

  • training in mediation and negotiation skills

  • training in de-escalation and conflict resolution skills

  • training in managing difficult conversations

  • assisting in the development of high-performing teams

  • assessing workplace conflict management systems and implementing workplace fairness restoration measures