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Conquering Critical Conversations

How Managers & Leaders Can Talk about Sticky Situations, Tough Topics, and Poor Performance with Ease
5.0 (2 ratings)
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Last updated 2/2016
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  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 7 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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Are you dreading having a Critical Conversation (or what you might call a "crucial conversation" or a "difficult conversation")? Did you have a Critical Conversation recently that went awry? Did you just take on a new role and already know that you will need this essential communication skill? I invite you to enroll in this course so you can conquer your Critical Conversations.

Updates: Clients and those enrolled in this course are reporting success with their Critical Conversations, whether 1:1 or with their teams. Not surprisingly, they're experiencing career growth and upward movement now that they are more confident when having Critical Conversations. It is a pleasure to share this information with people from four (4) countries. Welcome! 

In less than 2 hours, you can learn the "S C O P E" Approach for Having Your Critical Conversations and Building Your Leadership Brand in the Process

What you gain from this course:

  • Identify why you procrastinate (and why it's understandable when you do!)
  • Learn compelling reasons to go ahead and have the conversations
  • Recognize the two words to avoid when starting the conversation
  • Practice using the "S C O P E" approach (TM)
  • Hear real-world examples about people on both sides of Critical Conversations

You will be provided a Planning Guide that you may use when preparing for your Critical Conversations. The course experience includes quizzes, other "check your learning" activities, and bonus information.

Background information:

In a recent survey of 835 professionals, 75% of them reported that the biggest drain on their resilience reserves is managing difficult people and office politics (Harvard Business Review online). As you manage people and projects, it is inevitable that you will encounter Sticky Situations, Tough Topics, and Poor Performance -- all of which have the potential to drain your resilience reserves. This course shows you how to have the Critical Conversations with ease so that your reserves are not drained.


Insights about Charlotte and Critical Conversations:

After I hired Charlotte in 2007, I began to marvel at the way in which she communicates with her students. She is adept at helping students and clients learn how to have critical conversations. I am pleased to learn that Charlotte and her colleagues at Perfect Balance are taking her programs to a global audience through this Udemy course. 

Robert L. Chapman
University administrator (retired)
Durham, North Carolina

Each time I attend one of your programs, i am reminded again of the importance of communication. Even though things move at a quick pace in my business, I know it's essential for me to stop, listen, and process the information clients share. Also, I am now better prepared to have critical conversations, thanks to you.

Cynthia Ward Manley, QSC, SFR
Master Certified Financial Coach
Caring Realty Partnership, LLC
Raleigh, North Carolina


Who is the target audience?
  • Conquering Critical Conversations is designed for professionals who manage people and projects.
  • Examples of organizations for which this course is intended include: Faith communities, small businesses, corporations, schools, colleges and universities, athletic departments, non-profit and governmental organizations, and law enforcement agencies.
  • While the information in Conquering Critical Conversations might apply, it is not intended for employee-related situations involving termination, security, or legal matters.
Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed
What Will I Learn?
Define Critical Conversations and identify your purpose for having them
Identify the 3 reasons we procrastinate and 3 compelling reasons not to
Recognize the two words to avoid at the start of the conversation
Adapt and apply the "S C O P E" Approach (TM)
Use the "S C O P E" Planning Guide to plan your next Critical Conversation
View Curriculum
  • It is recommended that students have a basic understanding of management principles and awareness of their organization's HR policies and procedures.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 22 Lectures Collapse All 22 Lectures 01:17:45
Getting Started
5 Lectures 17:21

Welcome to Conquering Critical Conversations. As you manage people and projects, it is inevitable that challenging situations will arise and you will be expected to address them in a professional and timely manner.

This course provides you with a how-to guide for starting, engaging in, and "conquering" your Critical Conversations. Upon successful completion, you will be able to:

  • Define Critical Conversations and identify your purpose for having them
  • Identify the 3 reasons we procrastinate and 3 compelling reasons not to
  • Recognize the two words to avoid at the start of the conversation
  • Adapt and apply the "S C O P E" Approach (TM)
  • Use the "S C O P E" Planning Guide to plan your next Critical Conversation

During this lecture, you meet your instructor and learn what to expect during the course.

A note about the examples shared in this course: The client email and the stories I share have all been presented in a manner that do not reveal the identity of my clients and students.

Preview 04:19

Before you begin, take a few minutes to hear Charlotte's tips for making the most of your course experience and some special considerations to keep in mind when applying the information.

Preview 07:07

Critical Conversations are referred to in a number of ways: Tough conversations, difficult conversations, crucial conversations, challenging conversations -- and simply put, as the conversations we dread having.

In this lecture, we'll look at a working definition that will serve as the foundation for this course and help us put some parameters around this important topic.


Before you go to the next section, you're invited to ask yourself these -5- questions. Answering these questions will help you prepare for Conquering Critical Conversationsand make the most of the course experience.

Activity #1 | Getting Started |
1 page

The purpose of this activity is for you to do a quick analysis of your Critical Conversations. What are the trends? As a leader, how can you use the information?

Activity #2 | Organizational perspectives |
1 page
Why We Procrastinate & Compelling Reasons to Have the Conversation
2 Lectures 13:50

To procrastinate is predictable.

Critical conversations require advanced level skills and typically have a layer of complexity. It is understandable that we would delay in having these conversations.

During this lecture, we review three reasons we procrastinate when it's time to have a Critical Conversation. You will likely identify with the reasons and think of your own reasons as well.

Why We Procrastinate

Here's your first quiz. It's 3 quick questions that will check your learning for the "procrastination' lecture.

Why we procrastinate
3 questions

Yes, when it comes to Critical Conversations, to procrastinate is predictable.

Yet there are compelling reasons to have the conversation as well. In this lecture, we review three reasons to have the conversations in a timely manner.

Compelling Reasons to Have the Conversation

Here's your second quiz. It's 3 quick questions that will check your learning for the "Compelling Reasons" lecture.

Compelling reasons to have the conversation
3 questions
Two Words to Avoid When Starting the Conversation
4 Lectures 09:32

Your opening statements set the tone for the rest of the Critical Conversation. This activity allows you to reflect on ways you and other leaders have started your conversations.

After you develop your responses, think about them in the context of the next two lectures.

Activity #3 | How do you begin your Critical Conversations? |
1 page

Word #1

Based on what we've been taught, it might be intuitive to begin our business conversations the same way we begin those in our personal relationships.

In this lecture, we will look at this topic from another perspective.

Word #1

Word #2

Based on what we've been taught, it might be intuitive to begin our business conversations the same way we begin those in our personal relationships.

In this lecture, we will look at this topic from another perspective.

Word #2

You set the tone for the conversation in the first few minutes. Now that you know the words to avoid when starting, we'll look at some options for you.

In this lecture, we'll use the information from "Compelling Reasons to Have the Conversation" (reminding us why we are having the conversation) to develop some sample starter statements).

Sample Starter Statements
The "S C O P E" Approach (TM)
8 Lectures 22:49

"S C O P E" (TM) was developed after many years of partnering with clients on their Critical Conversations. In this lecture, you will be introduced to the "S C O P E" approach, its intent, and some special considerations for using "S C O P E."

We'll also take a brief look at the three stages of learning as presented in the book Successful Coaching -- focusing specifically on how the stages apply to this course.

Resource: Successful Coaching: America's best-selling coach's guide
Author: Rainer Martens
Publisher: Human Kinetics


Special note: While some of the principles may apply, the "S C O P E: approach was not developed to address matters related to security measures, legal proceedings, and employee terminations.

Preview 03:39

The Planning Guide is included here so you may begin planning your very next Critical Conversation as you progress through this course.

In addition, you may use the Guide when planning future conversations as well.

You may also find it helpful to adapt the Guide for your use.

Planning Guide
6 pages

Situation: What is the situation that requires this Critical Conversation? In this lecture, you will learn how to begin the conversation by using neutral, factual, and engaging verbiage.

S - Situation

Criticality: Why does the situation require a Critical Conversation? In this lecture, you will learn how to state the criticality in a manner that's focused on business principles and is neither opinion-based nor judgmental.

C - Criticality

Outcome: What has been the outcome since the discovery of the situation? Were relationships affected? Team productivity? Or customer relationships? In this lecture, you will learn how to do your homework so you can "get ahead of the story."

O - Outcome

Probing: Critical Conversations are indeed conversations. By probing, you invite conversation and input. In this lecture, we will explore the role of probing and review examples of effective questions to ask.

P - Probing

Expectations: Setting expectations going forward is one of the key reasons to have these Critical Conversations. In this lecture, we will review techniques you can use when setting expectations and gaining agreement.

E - Expectations

Here's your final quiz, 7 questions focusing on the "S C O P E" lecture.

For more "Check your learning," here are three additional questions for reflection or discussion:

1. What was your #1 takeaway from "S C O P E"?

2. What do you expect to be your top challenge when using "S C O P E"?

3. How will you address the special considerations when you use "S C O P E"? [Company, Culture, Confidence]

"S C O P E"
7 questions

Now that you have successfully completed the course, how about taking a quick break so you can celebrate and reflect on your accomplishment.

Extra Credit
3 Lectures 04:13

Now that you have completed your course and moved through the Mental, Practice and Automatic stages of learning, consider ways to gain more mileage from your course experience.

In this document is a list of -5- easy ways to share your learning so you can build your leadership brand and become known as a Critical Conversation Superstar in your organization.

Five Easy Ways to Gain Extra Mileage from Your Course Experience
1 page

Charlotte is known for the motivational talks she presents to her students in the traditional classroom.

In this Pep Talk for her Udemy students, Charlotte will share insight about how your outlook affects how well you manage challenging situations and conversations.

She will remind you how Conquering Critical Conversations can benefit your business relationships, communication skills, and leadership brand.

Charlotte's "Pep Talk"

Note: This is BONUS content.

Thank you very much for your participation in this course.

I have a number of other people to thank as well.

Preview 00:04
About the Instructor
5.0 Average rating
2 Reviews
62 Students
1 Course
Consultant & Speaker | Perfect Balance NC

Hello from North Carolina. It is a pleasure to introduce myself to you.

My passion for learning and teaching

While growing up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I used to “play school" and pretended to be the teacher – plus I had exceptional teachers as role models. I was fortunate to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I had an educational experience beyond my wildest dreams.

Fast forward to my career…teaching is the common thread throughout: Parent educator, training manager, communication consultant, motivational speaker, and adjunct faculty member.

My business partnership

I have enjoyed being self-employed and appreciate the great relationships I have developed with my clients. In 2013, I was invited to partner with Perfect Balance NC, a leading provider of personal and professional services in Durham, North Carolina. Partnering with Perfect Balance has afforded me more support and a broader platform for my programs.

2015 has been a very good year

In 2015, I was blessed beyond measure as a teacher. First, the dear students in my Human Resource Management class surprised me with an overall rating of 5.00 / 5.00.

In addition, I learned about Udemy. It is an honor to have my course approved for Udemy students all over the world.

Thank you

On behalf of Jessie Bennington, Renee Staehle, my colleagues at Perfect Balance, and Meghan Young, our Online Learning Consultant in Reading, Massachusetts, thank you for your interest in our Udemy course.

I look forward to hearing about your course experience. Remember: Udemy begins with “U."

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