Acumen Presents: Sheila Heen on Difficult Conversations
What you'll learn
- Identify the three layers that characterize any difficult conversation
- Productively navigate emotions and issues of identity that surface in difficult conversations
- Apply the tactic of "starting from a third story" to neutralize a difficult conversation
- Map the "joint contribution system" that characterizes challenging situations to shift away from a stance of blame
- Engage more productively in the difficult — but necessary — conversations that surface in our everyday lives
- This course does not have any prerequisites. It is open to anyone who wants to engage in more constructive conversations with others.
Whether we’re dealing with an under-performing employee, disagreeing with our partner, or negotiating with a difficult client, we attempt or avoid difficult conversations every day. No matter how competent or experienced we are, we all have conversations that cause anxiety and frustration.
This is particularly true for people working in the social sector. They’re often faced with situations where they need to untangle differing perspectives, advocate for those who are underserved, or simply manage their employees and volunteers while facing resource constraints.
During this course, you’ll learn practical strategies to handle difficult conversations with grace and agility while achieving productive results. Taught by Sheila Heen, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback, this course will introduce you to actionable insights to understand the 3 layers of every difficult conversation. You’ll learn how to authentically shift from a stance of blame and certainty to one of learning and openness. You’ll also practice tactics like “starting from the third story” to help neutralize the toxic dynamics of difficult conversations and achieve more productive results. Finally, you’ll understand how and why emotions and issues of identity frequently come up in these challenging dialogues—and how you can address them preemptively and professionally while being authentic and empathetic.
This course is for anyone who needs to work together with other people—in their personal or professional lives—to achieve something tough but meaningful together.
Who this course is for:
- Anyone who wants to learn to navigate difficult conversations with grace and achieve more productive results
Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $110 million in 102 companies across Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the United States. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. In 2015, Acumen was named one of Fast Company's Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies.
Acumen Academy is the world’s school for social change. Our mission is to unleash a new generation of social innovators and leaders with the determination and grit to build a more just, inclusive and sustainable world. Blending the best of online and offline learning, we offer anyone, anywhere access to the practical tools, practices, resources and supportive community they need to achieve positive social change. With 700 Fellows and 500,000 course takers in 193 countries, the Acumen Academy community represents a new generation of social innovators and leaders committed to doing what’s right in a world that loves easy.
Sheila Heen is the co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback. She is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a faculty member for the Harvard Negotiation Project, and a Founder of Triad Consulting Group. She has consulted for clients ranging from the Federal Reserve Bank to MetLife to the Singapore Supreme Court to the Obama White House.
For twenty years Sheila has worked with the Harvard Negotiation Project, developing negotiation theory and practice. She specializes in particularly difficult negotiations – where emotions run high and relationships become strained. She has appeared on shows as diverse as Oprah and the G. Gordon Liddy show, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, Fox News, NPR’s Market Money and CNBC’s Power Lunch. Sheila is a graduate of Occidental College and Harvard Law School.