Courageous Conversations Toolkit

Courageous Conversations Toolkit

What is a Courageous Conversation?

In courageous conversations, whether in the context of performance appraisal, mentoring, or coaching, individuals are encouraged to express their views openly and truthfully, rather than defensively or with the purpose of laying blame. Integral to courageous conversations is an openness to learn.

What is an example of a Courageous Conversation?

Typical examples include handling conflict, confronting a colleague, expressing an unpopular idea on a team, asking for a favour, saying no to a request for a favour, asking for a raise, or trying to have a conversation with someone who is avoiding you. Research shows that many women find such “courageous conversations” challenging.

How do you frame a Courageous Conversation?

  • Set your intentions clearly.
  • Create a container.
  • Prepare facilitators & groups.
  • Set it up.
  • Open with vulnerability.
  • Have the discussion.
  • Come back together and close.
  • Support each other.

What does the research tell us about Courageous Conversations?

According to the work of Susan Scott there are The Seven Principles of Fierce Conversations:

  1. Master the courage to interrogate reality. Are your assumptions valid? Has anything changed? What is now required of you? Of others?
  2. Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real. When the conversation is real, change can occur before the conversation is over.
  3. Be here, prepared to be nowhere else. Speak and listen as if this is the most important conversation you will ever have with this person.
  4. Tackle your toughest challenge today. Identify and then confront the real obstacles in your path. Confrontation should be a search for the truth. Healthy relationships include both confrontation and appreciation.
  5. Obey your instincts. During each conversation, listen for more than content. Listen for emotion and intent as well. Act on your instincts rather than passing them over for fear that you could be wrong or that you might offend.
  6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake. For a leader there is no trivial comment. The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship. Learning to deliver the message without the load allows you to speak with clarity, conviction, and compassion.
  7. Let silence do the heavy lifting. Talk with people, not at them. Memorable conversations include breathing space. Slow down the conversation so that insight can occur in the space between words.

The Diverse Educators’ Courageous Conversations Toolkit

We are collating a growing bank of resources to support you in how you lean into courageous conversations with colleagues, line managers, friends and family about DEI matters. We would encourage you to reflect on the following questions:
  • What does having a Courageous Conversation mean to you?
  • How psychologically safe do you feel in your organisation and how might this impact your ability to have Courageous Conversations?
  • How secure is your sense of belonging in your organisation, and how might this impact your ability to have Courageous Conversations?
  • How often do you listen to learn and understand, not to interject?
  • If you avoid having Courageous Conversations, how does this cause bigger problems for you?
  • What are the ideal conditions for holding a Courageous Conversation?

Articles

Better Up: What does it take to have courageous conversations at work?

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Elevate Network: Radical Candor: Part 2 — Breaking it Down

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Great Place to Work: Courageous Conversations at Work: A Guide To the Discussion You Are Scared Of

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Insight Business Works: Courageous Conversations: The Challenges for Women

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LearnLight: Leadership 101: How to Have Courageous Conversations at Work

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Lifehack: 7 Keys to Having a Courageous Conversation With Anyone

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MindTools: Radical Candor – The Truth Doesn’t Always Need to Hurt

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WorkPlacePlus: What is a Courageous Conversation?

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Blogs

Brene Brown: Let’s Rumble

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Brene Brown: Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind

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Courageous Conversations

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Teach Better

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The Blog: Radical Reading

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The Fierce Blog

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Books

Bourgeois, Trudy. Equality: Courageous Conversations About Women, Men, and Race to Spark a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough

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Brown, Brene. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

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Conner, Yana. Ducksworth, Chantelle. Fields, Lisa. Courageous Conversations: The Tools You Need For the Conversations in the Culture

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Grenny, Joseph. Patterson, Kerry. McMillan, Ron. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

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Hines, William and Carolyn. What to Say and How to Say It: 72 Courageous Conversations for the Workplace

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Scott, Kim. Radical Candor: Fully Revised and Updated Edition: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean

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Scott, Susan. Fierce Conversations: Achieving success in work and in life, one conversation at a time

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Scott, Susan. Fierce Leadership: A bold alternative to the worst 'best practices' of business today

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Singleton, Glen. Courageous Conversations About Race A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools and Beyond

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Podcasts

Courageous Conversations About Our Schools

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The Courageous Conversations Podcast

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Elevate with Robert Glazer

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Fierce Podcast Hub

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The Radical Candor Podcast

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Unbeatable Mind Podcast

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Resources

Brene Brown

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Fierce Inc

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Radical Candor

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The Courageous Conversation Compass

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The Ontario Leadership Framework: Engaging in Courageous Conversations

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Videos

Flowplayer: The Four Agreements of Courageous Conversations

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Glenn Singleton: Courageous Conversations about Race

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HumanNatureAtWork: Courageous Conversations At Work: What's the One Conversation...

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Lauren Mackler at Harvard: Difficult Conversations

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Luvvie Ajayi Jones: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

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Personify Leadership: Courageous Conversations

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