Managing Difficult Conversations

It's about business results, not just communication...

Established in 1991, 3CM training products have been built on more than two decades of ongoing research, this significant cultural skill has helped organisations to realise significant business results using a proven method for driving rapid, sustainable and measurable change in behaviours.  

Difficult Conversations is a two-day course that teaches skills for creating alignment and agreement by fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics—at all levels of your organisation. By learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), you’ll begin to surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on your decisions with unity and commitment.

In order to transform results we must first start with improving difficult conversation, where the:

  • Stakes are high,

  • Emotions run strong,

  • Opinions vary, 

  • Critical thinking is imperative,

  • Performance improvement is imperative.

These conversations - when handled poorly or ignored - cause teams and organisations to get less - than - desirable results.

The Difficult Conversations techniques will yield valued benefits in such vital areas such as:

Performance Management talking honestly and openly no matter how delicate the topic.

Productivity eliminating resistance and act with conviction when making decisions.

Safety Management discussing violations and solutions without finger-pointing or resentment.

Change Management

... by agreeing with others on and follow through with difficult changes.

Teamwork reaching agreement on how to work together and treat other teammates.


... by working through differences with others and strengthen relationships.

Quality Management developing productive processes that are eagerly implemented.

Diveristy willingly and ably discuss diversity problems face-to-face and in the moment.

Meetings speaking up when things get off track and suggest how to improve them.

Proven business results have recognised the direct connection between their successes and this training solutions:

  • Quality improvements
  • Grievance reductions
  • Turnover reductions
  • Employee satisfaction improvements
  • Cycle time reductions
  • Safety/compliance improvements

Who Should Attend?

Difficult Conversations training is ideal for individuals who regularly deal with touchy, controversial, or high-stakes issues—within a team or across functional lines. Learn to facilitate rapid problem-solving and improve results. For true change to be achieved, involving teams and even entire organisations is essential.

For more information call George Sawiris on +61 8 9438 1000 or contact us by email

Training Delivery Options to Suit Your Organisation

  1. In-Company Learning - For maximum effectiveness and relevance, one of our high performance facilitators delivers the programme in-house at a location and date you specify.
  2. Individual Coaching - To achieve behaviour change and performance improvement.
  3. Team Coaching - To achieve sustainable team cohesive skills and increase the transferrence of learning.
  4. Group Coaching - To achieve sustainable cross-functional team development.

How is the Training Delivered?

  • Small group workshops size:  4 - 12 participants

  • Exceptional training content.

  • Outstanding instructional design.

  • Structured & real-life skill rehearsals.

  • The training model infuses up to sixteen hours of workpshop time with video clips, extensive action learning, group interaction learning, and personal reflection.

  • The courses are taught in two consecutive days and some can be spread out according to a schedule that best meets your needs.

Why We Do What We Do

Established in 1991, 3CM has built more than two decades of research, observation, and experience into its training products. 3CM has sourced research and position papers below, penned by highly rated authors and experts, you can see the evolution and methodology behind our training courses and understand what’s really behind the products and solutions.

Find your favourite research study or position paper below and contact 3CM for a copy.

Industry Research

Best Practice Industry Research
Research Topic Research Overview
Critical Conversations Position Paper Over the last 25 years, studies of critical conversations has resulted in this highly regarded training course. Teach people difficult or critical conversations skills and you’ll improve a variety of key performance indicators.
A High Performance Organisational Cultural System Organisational cultures are driven by written and unwritten rules. Leaders who invest in building the four critical skills of a high performance cultural operating system reap daily rewards for their investment.
Silent Danger—The Five Critical Conversations that Drive Workplace Safety 93% of employees say their organisation is at risk of an accident waiting to happen because people are either unwilling or unable to speak up.
Silence Fails—The Five Critical Conversations for Flawless Execution 85% of major corporate initiatives fail to come in on time or on budget because leaders fail to effectively address five common business issues.
Silence Kills & Silent Treatment in Healthcare These two popular healthcare studies reveal that communication breakdowns between healthcare professionals lead to avoidable medical errors, poor patient care, and low employee morale.
Financial Agility—The Four Critical Conversations for Uncertain Economic Times Leaders who effectively handle crucial moments in a financial crisis are ten times more likely to position their company for future success.

Leadership & Workplace Communication Research

Research Summary
Research Topic Topic Overview
Work for a Jerk? More than 50% of employees say a disagreeable boss is their number-one reason for finding a new job
Stuck with a lazy co-worker? Why you’re to blame Lazy and disengaged co-workers cause a quarter of their hard-working colleagues to put in four to six more hours of work each week.
Discussing High-Stakes Business Initiatives 82% of employees say there are significant organisation-wide initiatives underway in their workplace that will likely fail.
The Cost of Conflict Avoidance Employees waste an average of $1,500 and an eight-hour workday for every crucial conversation they avoid.
Employees Fear Critical Conversations 70% of employees are currently facing a difficult conversation with a boss, coworker, or direct report.
Four Difficult Conversations for Uncertain Times The way leaders and employees behave in four critical moments is a predictor of an organisation’s ability to respond effectively and quickly to financial threats.

Get Unstuck with Best Practice Skills for High-Stakes us today

3CM in association with AQTF

Under stringent protocols of the Australian Quality Training Framework 3CM operates  the nationally recognised qualification framework systems and process to specific assessment to Australian training packages.

Learning Strategy

Transference of LearningDeveloping a High Performance Culture

Our courses are highly participative workshops and project forums in the true sense.  You'll have an opportunity to explore issues and practice skills during individual and group activities (Action Learning).  We believe that the most beneficial elements of our workshops are your opportunities to perform the new skills and receive feedback (not only from the facilitator, but from your peers as well).

We use “Action learning”, as a process in which groups of learners collaborate to solve actual workplace problems. In this way, organisations benefit from gaining solutions to critical challenges and participants benefit by learning from their experiences.

We follow a quick pace in our workshops so expect a high-content, high-involvement, high-energy programme.  We'll use checklists, handouts, questionnaires, learning guides, worksheets and workbooks, and samples of templates to provide you with tangible guidance in developing new skills.  Numerous tips and techniques are contained in the course materials and reinforced during exercises.  The focus and efficiency you gain from the workshop will reduce your extra workload.

To summarise – our approach is to do it rather than talk about it.

Learning Methodologies

Assessment Centre - Diagnostics Tools

  • DiSC® Psychometric Behavioural Assessments
  • EBW Business EQ Assessments
  • P8 Organisation Culture Assessments
  • TIA Trust Inside Teams Assessments
  • The 5 Behaviours of Cohesive Team Assessment
  • Competency Based Assessments
  • Learning Style Assessment

Learning Delivery

  • Facilitated sessions by high callibre practitioners
  • Case studies that are relevant, practical and applied
  • Guided discussion, rather then theory and textbook
  • Syndicate work, collaborative and applicable to real workplace situations
  • Workplace projects linked to strategic and operational imperatives

Support for Blended Learning

  • Learning Resources (including high quality 3CM designed templates and handouts)
  • Learner Workbooks and Worksheets
  • eLearning (flexible and blended approach)
  • Webinars
  • Coaching (3CM’s coaching can increase transference of learning from 20% to 88%)
  • Formative and summative assessments

Your Guarantee of Quality

Since 1991, 3CM have met stringent AQTF requirements; programmes are covered by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If we fail to meet your expectations, contact us and we will negotiate corrective action.


2 Days

Make an enquiry


Ask us about this course…


Customised InCompany Learning

We can customise individual workshops, a combination of workshops, or one of our certification programs to give you a relevant and applied methodology. Tailored or fully customised to meet your specific workforce development needs.

Enquire Now

The Crucial Conversations course with 3CM, like all good learning experiences, made me realise that I had been naïve.The skills presented gave me a new perspective on how to understand, structure and manage consequential interactions with others...

Nathan Coad ZBB Energy Corporation