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Managing challenging conversations

Practical information

  • Audience: Postdocs and research staff
  • Date and time: 22 May 2024, (10:00 - 13:00)
  • Length: 3 h
  • Place: Canada Room/Council Chamber, Lanyon Building
  • Organised by: Postdoctoral Development Centre (


In research like in any other work environments, you will at times need to have a conversation with your manager, a colleague or a student you supervise, to solve an issue or grievance. Without a conversation, the difficulties you are facing won't get resolved and it is important to address issues constructively as soon as possible, both for your wellbeing and the progress of your work. It is easier said than done though! Such conversations can feel challenging for a number of reasons and it may be tempting to ignore the issue or delay dealing with it instead... This session will provide you with concepts, tools and practice to prepare for and have challenging conversations without damaging your working relationships and to enable you and your colleagues to find solutions and understanding that help you move forward in a constructive way. It will also cover how to receive feedback in a useful manner.

Programme Objectives

  • Explore the importance of perceptions and cognitive biases.
  • Investigate what makes a conversation difficult and the three elements behind every difficult conversation.
  • Discover impact vs intention, blame vs contribution and how to stay curious.
  • Discuss how to both give and receive challenging feedback.
  • Learn tips and tricks on how to have a difficult conversation.
  • Gain valuable preparation tools.

This interactive workshop will be a combination of theory and practice and participants will have the opportunity to explore techniques for having difficult conversations through a peer coaching exercise. 


Register for the 'Managing challenging conversations' workshop


Enda Young

Enda is the Managing Director of Mediation NI, a mediation development agency with more than 30 years of experience delivering training programmes. He has been involved with conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiations for over twenty years and has worked with some of the world’s largest companies and organisations. Enda specialises in helping people get better at dealing with conflict. He previously worked in the William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s and delivered a range of training sessions to staff on challenging conversations, and was notably the Programme Director on the Senior Leaders Programme.


Rating (out of 5): Not applicable; this course is being introduced in 2024

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