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Keeping the Temperature Down
Keeping the Temperature Down

Keeping the Temperature Down

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Time & Location

Feb 20, 2024, 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EST


About the event

Why is this important: Coordinating and guiding difficult conversations between two groups who are passionately opposed in their viewpoints is both an art and science. It requires an ability to understand the issues on both sides of the debate, attend to clear expectations around time and location for the conversation, and facilitate sharing and collaboration between the groups.

Program overview: This program will draw from the book, How to Engage in Difficult Conversations on Identity, Race, and Politics in Higher Education, to better prepare teachers, faculty, administrators, and human resources to engage in these difficult conversations more effectively. Various methods of sharing information with groups such as online polls, expert lectures, panel discussions, town hall type meetings and passive information sharing such as handouts and flyers will be reviewed. The presenters will share their wisdom and practical advice on how to best identify points of connection and similarity, areas to focus on, and which paths should be avoided. The presenters will offer an approach to staying focused on the goals of the conversation and how to set expectations and limits related to behavior. They will draw on practices from narrative therapy, hostage negotiations, motivational interviewing, and process/content focus. Counseling techniques such as the use of minimal encouragers, summarizing, paraphrasing, mirroring, “I” statements, body language, and the use of deflector phrases will be discussed.

Practical handouts, reflective activities and checklists will be provided to further the learning and develop some increasing proficiency with this approach. Some examples of concepts are listed here.

PHRASES TO LOSE: “I don’t care,” “whatever,” “Come here!,” “you wouldn’t understand,” “You did this same thing last…,” “It’s none of your business,” “you wouldn’t understand,” “calm down,” the use of “never” or “always,” “I’m not going to say that again,” “everyone thinks that you…”

PRACTICES TO LOSE: Generalizations, exaggerations, and sarcasm. Attacking the other person. Making ultimatums or threats. Lecturing or condescending speech. Over-simplification or name calling.

WHAT WORKS: Open-ended questions. Being curious about another person’s perspective. Using short, clear, and direct statements. Being genuine, authentic, and consistent in your approach. Using minimal encouragers and expressing a desire to understand and learn.

Participants will be able to:

  • Understand the art and science of crisis de-escalation, verbal judo, and narrative re-framing.
  • Explore their own triggers and how losing control of their emotions can escalate tensions during heated conversations and debates.
  • Review skills in active listening, setting boundaries, expressing empathy, and building rapport.
  • Increase their skills in attending to verbal and non-verbal escalations and the importance of treating all people with respect (and having a plan to act if they don’t respond in kind).

Program includes:

  • Online access to the live 90-minute program.
  • A recorded version* of the program on along with test questions and a compliance report for the administrator of a department, college, or university.
  • A handout describing how to create ground rules for classroom discussions.
  • A summary checklist of techniques to focus on such as voice tone, pace pitch and modulation, understanding how to use pivot points and redirection and understanding your triggers.
  • A checklist for human resource professionals to address workplace conflicts among employees.
  • A guideline for email communications that highlights what to do and what to avoid.
  • A sample script including common insults and suggested responses useful in debate moderation, workplace, and classroom conflicts and with those you disagree with.
  • Discussion questions for group interaction and community engagement to continue after the live program.

* Access for one year after the date of the live program. Additional year(s) access available for 20% purchase price.


  • Individual

    For group pricing or to purchase the full series, contact

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