UCL Human Resources


Handling difficult behaviours and having courageous conversations

This programme will give you the skills and knowledge to deal as effectively with the ‘difficult’ people as you do with those you find easy. We will be exploring group dynamics.

For many of us, the pleasures and rewards of work are marred by our inability to handle the behaviours of those we work with on a daily, weekly and monthly basis – whatever our formal working relationship. Once we decide to tackle the difficult behaviours we are inevitably called upon to initiate what may be called a ‘difficult” or courageous conversation.

This highly interactive and pragmatic programme will give you the skills and knowledge to deal as effectively with the ‘difficult’ people as you do with those you find easy.

The programme will explore group dynamics, and how individuals and small groups can affect group performance. We will look at the power of communication to support or undermine, and how we are able to keep our focus on ‘getting the job done’.

Course content

By the end of this programme, you will have:

  • understood what causes behaviour to be received as difficult, and how you can handle it
  • understood how your own behaviour can inadvertently exacerbate these behaviours, how difficult behaviours can trigger your own emotional response, and how you can control your own emotions to enable you to handle difficult behaviour with less personal impact
  • how to spot the triggers for difficult behaviour, and therefore how to avert the adverse response
  • how to manage expectations so that the difficult behaviour is less likely to become an issue
  • how to plan for, execute and follow up on a courageous conversation
  • how to handle ‘de-railing’ activities in difficult conversations
  • how to calm high emotion in conversations

This one day programme is a cross between a workshop and a coaching session. We will explore the theory and apply it directly to the issues that we are currently facing. As such we ask you to bring your own examples that we will work through to ground our theory in the realities of our daily working environment. There will be no role play.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this programme, you will: 

  • have created your own personal strategy for dealing effectively with difficult behaviour, and for ensuring that working relationships are professionally maintained
  • designed your own personal action plan for tackling some of the issues you will face once you leave the session

Intended audience

  • Research staff at all levels
  • PhD students at all levels

Researcher Development Framework (RDF) subdomain

This course supports the following RDF subdomains (find out more about the RDF).

  • D1 Working with others
  • D2 Communication and dissemination