Course 7: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Empathy and Ease

Welcome & Networking, Good Scientific Practice & Research Integrity21.10.2023 12:00 - 18:00 (Sat)TUM Graduate School
Course 7: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Empathy and Ease22.10.2023 09:00 - 17:00 (Sun)Helen Schliep
Course 7: Navigating Difficult Conversations with Empathy and Ease23.10.2023 09:00 - 16:00 (Mon)Helen Schliep
Perception, Unconscious Bias, Empathy, Emotional Intelligence, Triggers and Emotional Regulation, Constructive Communication, Preparation for difficult conversations
Course Description: 

There are situations in life when we are confronted with the need to lead difficult conversations, whether with our supervisors, colleagues in the office or lab, or even in our personal relationships. Many individuals find it daunting to engage in such conversations, often postponing them or entering them while emotionally strained. This training program wants to demystify difficult conversations and focuses on developing essential communication skills tailored to the professional context, while acknowledging their broader applicability across various facets of life.

The course focuses on the foundational aspects of approaching tough conversations including communication strategies, emotional intelligence towards others and how to be aware of your Unconscious Biases. This knowledge enables you to participate in difficult conversations with more empathy and ease. We will delve into triggers and emotional self-regulation as well as 4 steps to prepare and practice for a difficult conversation. In addition to these essential skills, we'll cover other factors that influence difficult conversations, such as setting the right atmosphere, timing, and body language. Through engaging discussions, hands-on exercises, and reflective sessions, you'll have the opportunity to apply what you learn in a supportive environment. This culminates in a simulation of your own cases of difficult conversations in a small group setting. By gaining a deeper understanding of our own communication patterns and emotional triggers, applying appropriate tools, and fostering empathy, we can navigate difficult conversations with more purpose and satisfaction.


We will work a lot with the knowledge in the room and contextualize it with science, to tailor tools and approaches perfectly to individual needs and experiences. Please note, this course does not focus on negotiation techniques nor does it include the Harvard model (for this see our other course: “Negotiation” with the Harvard-Model).

Course aims: 

Particpants will…

  • share their experiences of difficult conversations and encounter different perspectives,
  • reflect and learn when, where and how to start a difficult conversation,
  • reflect on communication patterns and learn communication tools,
  • strengthen their emotional intelligence and empathy,
  • understand how unconscious bias can influence difficult conversations,
  • learn tools to mitigate bias and strengthen their empathy for their counterparts,
  • reflect on their emotional triggers in communication and become stronger in dealing with them,
  • learn how to prepare for and follow up on a difficult conversation,
  • receive constructive feedback on their difficult conversation in the simulation.
Teaching methods: 

Short inputs, group work, self-reflection tasks, discussions, role play, watching videos, working on case studies.

Participation requirements: 


Technical requirements: 


Course preparation: 


Additional information: 

This course is not designed for the medical field regarding difficult conversations with patients.

Graduate School Geschäftsstelle
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In Präsenz
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Helen Schliep

Helen Schliep, M.Sc., has recently returned to Munich. She is the daughter of two enthusiastic backpackers, which brought her into contact with different cultures and regions at an early age. Inspired by this, she studied social and cultural anthropology at the LMU with a focus on research. As the final project of her Bachelor's degree, she conducted research on the topic of "expat culture" at two locations in Malaysia. Her Master's degree took her to Edinburgh, Scotland, where she studied International Development with an anthropological-critical perspective. Again, her own research with a regional focus on Palestine served as her final thesis. In addition to her studies and research, she led an international work camp, worked for the Goethe Institute, and completed an internship in a Jordanian civil society organisation. She has been a partner of the Training-Company Working Between Cultures since 2023. As an a trainer, she was trained by InterCultur and works with a focus on global & gender diversity, unconscious bias as well as conflict and communication.