EBDN Event: Difficult Conversations with Dr. Wanda Costen

Thank you to everyone who braved the cold and joined EBDN to kick off our 2020 series of workshops, on January 8. A special thanks to our event sponsors, Patricia Pasemko, On Site Placement and Aaron Spink, TD Wealth.

Dr. Wanda Costen, Dean of the MacEwan School of Business energetically shared insightful and practical strategies to help reduce procrastination when engaging with difficult conversations.

Dr. Costen’s proposed a Difficult Conversation self – checklist to help you define the purpose of the conversation before you begin:

    • Is it about me, my emotional response, my ego?
    • What is the best and the worst thing that can happen? If the worst thing that can happen seriously outweighs the best thing, it is probably not a conversation that you need to have.
    • What is my role in the situation?
    • Which of my buttons is being pushed?
    • Am I calling someone out because I need them to know they are wrong? Or am I helping them be more self-aware about their impact on others?

Reasons for holding a difficult conversation

Good reasons to have a difficult conversation include asking someone to change behavior or sharing bad news. Procrastinating on difficult conversations often makes things worse, situations can escalate, behavior can worsen and relationships become more emotionally charged over time.

Tips & Tricks for Managing Difficult Conversations:

  • Focus on solving the problem to achieve a win-win relationship.
    • Be specific about what the issue is.
  • Acknowledge the emotional content of the conversation.
    • Allow for timeouts for both parties as and when needed.
  • Be aware of your verbal and body language.
    • Both contribute to how we are perceived. For example – if your arms are crossed, the other party may perceive that you aren’t invested in the discussion and may result in unnecessary escalation.
  • Be an Active Listener – Hear and acknowledge the other person’s perspective.
    • If you can move from certainty (I know I’m right) to curiosity, you will create an environment in which others feel safe to openly share differing views.
  • Seek to Understand
    • The different interpretations individuals have means you will be able to check your assumptions and adapt to the other parties perspective.

The most important lesson to remember of Dr. Costen’s presentation is that mastering the art of difficult conversation is a skill that comes with time, and that we will always have more learning to do in order to be competent.

Dr Costen ended the presentation with a review of how the Dimensions of Diversity will impact all the difficult conversations that you have. You need to understand and recognize how others view the world in the context of the conversations you need to have.

Many thanks to Dr. Wanda Costen for her generosity in supporting the EBDN community!

About the EBDN

We look forward to continuing this discussion at a future session and more immediately online. Do you have questions, thoughts, ideas on this topic? If so take it to our Linkedin page (https://www.linkedin.com/company/ebdn/)  and let’s take the discussion further.

If you are not yet a member, please review our Membership page and submit a request to join .  A member of our team will be in touch.

If you are interested in speaking at an event or hosting an event, please email EBDiversityn@gmail.com.

Our next event will be held on 11 March 2020 at Finning and will include a presentation by Cheryl Whitelaw from Kind Power Coaching and Consulting on “Dealing with resistance to D&I efforts.”. 

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