Critical Conversations - Mastering Difficult Communication

Upcoming dates (1)

Mar. 28-31, 2022


Course Overview

One of the least favorite topics for managers and leaders is having difficult conversations with their team, their boss and their peers. This course is designed to make those conversations not so difficult. It will provide a framework to drive for the facts to effectively communicate. In this course you will learn how to:

  • Assess a situation and recognize a critical conversation
  • Deploy advanced communication skills
  • Leverage the art of story telling
  • Propose alternative paths to reach a common goal

Who Should Attend?

This course will benefit anyone who regularly needs to have difficult, critical conversations, including:

  • Newly appointed managers or team leaders directing technical professionals
  • Experienced managers, who are looking for ways to be effective and efficient
  • Engineers and other technical professionals aspiring to management and leadership positions

Additional Information

This course is part of the Technical Leadership Certificate. Course may be taken individually as well.

Course Outline

  • Recognizing what makes a conversation critical (emotional) 

  • Key elements of advanced communications
    • Establishing mutual purpose
    • Making it safe
    • Key conversation skills

  • Mastering the story telling
    • Understanding the games we play
    • Defusing the games they play

  • Difficult conversations—dealing with the really tough cases
    • Dealing with high conflict situations
    • What to do when things go badly
    • Kit bag of opening and recovery phases

  • Closing well – Getting agreed outcome and action plan


Trevor Manning

Trevor Manning specializes in real-world training and development of technical people who have transitioned into management.  His mission is helping Smart People transition to Inspiring Leaders.

During a 30-year career in the IT and telecommunications sectors, Trevor worked his way up from specialist design engineer to board level. This journey from expert to middle manager, and then on to the C-suite, has provided Trevor with the breadth and depth of knowledge in how companies really operate.  

His experience working in South Africa, UK-Europe, America, and Australia in a range of companies from a giant electric utility to a small start-up software company has given him insights to help people in a variety of real-world situations.  

Trevor has experience in managing and leading people in mature, stable environments with fixed structures and processes, and also in the chaotic startup phase of a fast-growing new business. These environments exposed him to the challenges of recruiting and developing teams to meet the companies’ growth plans in addition to downsizing during lean years.

Trevor runs training programs around the world, including at Oxford University (UK) and the University of  Wisconsin-Madison (USA) as part of their Continuing Education programs for engineers. 

Trevor authored the classic best-seller ‘Microwave Radio Transmission Design Guide’ published by Artech House (second revision 2009) and more recently he has self-published ‘Microwave Radio Handy Reference Guide’ (2019).  He has also authored two management books ‘’Help! What’s the Secret to Leading Engineers?’ (2017) and ‘Help! I Need to Master Critical Conversations’ (2018). ‘Help! They Made Me the Team Leader’  will be available from Amazon later in 2021. 

Upcoming dates (1)

Program Director

Susan Ottmann

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