Making Difficult Conversations Easier

An essential building block of 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 co-workers, clients, friends or family, invariably the same fear and apprehension comes over us the fear of failure or making matters worse.

In this two-day 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.

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 which include:
    • Presence and Centering
    • Agreeing vs. acknowledging
    • Recognizing and avoiding communication blockers
    • Using curiosity to unlock conversation impasses
    • Non-verbal and verbal active listening tools to craft what to say and how to say it
  • work with a template to help plan for a difficult conversation
  • learn a simple yet powerful four-step technique to aid in having better and more collaborative conversations

Who Should Attend?

  • Any staff working in Ontario Works, Housing or Children's Services


Two Days
(6 hours per day)

Bring this Workshop In-House

Contact Christie Herrington
Manager, Education

Email Christie

About the Facilitator

Sharad Kerur has a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) and Master of Industrial Relations from Queens 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), Canadas 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.

He 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 University of York located 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.

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

More recently, Sharad developed and 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

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