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Critical Conversations Training and Other Communication Workshops

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Critical Conversations: Updated and More Powerful than Ever

We have updated this best seller to make it more applicable to 2014 and beyond, with additional activities and updated slides.

The updated version is now available at a $300 discount from the full price of $495.00 / Purchase the updated Critical Conversations program at $195.00

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    How to Ask Questions to Get the Results You Want: The Monk's Method

    In delivering communication skills training workshops to various groups over the past fifteen years, I came to depend on the following funny story to illustrate how the way people ask a question can determine the answers they get. I labeled this questioning technique, "The Monk's Method."

    Two monks were praying, walking and talking as they do all day long. The junior monk said to the senior monk. "I'm surprised you're allowed to smoke while walking around and praying here in the monastery my dear brother. When I joined the monastery I asked our Head Monk about smoking and his answer was a resounding no. How come you are able to smoke with no problem? The senior monk smiled and said, "Am I right to assume, my dear brother, that you asked the Head Monk whether it was alright for you to smoke while praying? "Yes," said the junior monk. "I asked him whether it was alright for me to smoke while praying, and he looked at me disapprovingly and said, "Of course not. I'm surprised you would even ask."

    "Ah!," exclaimed the senior monk. "You didn't know how to ask my dear brother. It all depends on how you put it. When I joined the monastery, I too asked the Head Monk about smoking, but in a slightly different manner. I asked him: "Dear Master, Is it alright for me to pray while smoking?" And he said, "But of course my son. You can pray anytime."

    In asking questions, as well as in all other aspects of communication, it's not what you say that counts, but how you say it.

    The Monk's Method is part of the "Critical Conversations" workshop. Order now at $195.

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    Critical Conversations Program

     Critical Conversations: The Skills You Need to Communicate Best When It Matters Most
    A Complete Training Workshop With Leader's Guide, Reproducible Participant Workbook, and PowerPoint Slides

    The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished

    – George Bernard Shaw

    Now Trainers and Consultants can solve the tough communication challenges people face at work by delivering this powerful one day or two day communication workshop with dramatic results. This flexible, customizable workshop gives you everything you need to deliver the skills people need most at work: Communicating effectively to reach positive outcomes in difficult situations when the stakes are high and the challenges are great.


    Critical Conversations: Turning Confrontations into Collaboration

    Most communication training programs offer general information about the communication process, model, and principles. While participants may become more aware of the importance of good communication, they are left in dire need for specific ways to deal with real, tough, day-to-day communication encounters at work.
    This unique workshop focuses on the specific application of powerful communication and influencing tools to the most critical, sensitive, and challenging fact-to-face encounters managers and staff are confronted with everyday at work.

    The workshop equips participants with invaluable skills and provides them with the following benefits:

    • It provides participants with proven techniques they can use in high-impact situations at work.
    • It helps participants feel confident to communicate about any tough or sensitive issue.
    • It enables managers and staff to engage in constructive conversations even when criticism, complaint, or other tough encounters are necessary.
    • It delivers practical examples of what not to do, and what to do, when caught in those worst-of-all-possible-situations that require a higher level of communication competence.
    • It empowers participants to turn critical communication situations into opportunity to build trust and achieve results.

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    Learn to Apply Powerful Talking Tools to a Host of Challenging Communication Encounters


    Participants learn to apply specific Talking Tools to a host of challenging communication encounters of particularly high stakes and sensitivity. The Talking, Persuading, and Influencing Tools participants learn and practice in this workshop will enable them to achieve decidedly positive results in working with others as they encounter the following TEN difficult communication situations:

    1. Giving Effective Praise that portrays sincerity and generates motivation and enthusiasm.
    2. Delivering Criticism without creating confrontation and conflict
    3. Conducting or participating in effective Performance Review sessions
    4. Conducting or participating in an effective Interview for a new job or promotion
    5. Making an Apology that touches the heart and convinces the mind.
    6. Asking Effective Questions to probe for facts and provoke for ideas.
    7. Arguing without Offending
    8. Communicating to Build Rapport and Create Trust
    9. Communicating to Create Collaboration and Engagement
    10. Communicating to Resolve Conflict and Reach Agreement
    No other training program we know of covers all these  critical communication situations. This is the most relevant On-Demand, On-the-Job communication training you can offer today, addressing people’s needs for practical Talking Tools to apply in the most challenging encounters they face at work.

    From The hated Performance Review sessions and the sensitive coaching and feedback drills, to the potentially explosive encounters with angry colleagues or customers, this workshop provides participants with the practical techniques they can immediately put to work, starting right in the workshop’s role plays.

    Communication is a difficult process even when the stakes are not high. But when they are, then communication becomes the most crucial tool you have to build trust, resolve conflict, inspire and lead others, and achieve great results.  This workshop delivers the specific skills, powerful techniques, and real-world practices that make this possible.

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    Experiential Learning, Not Boring Lectures

    The workshop deploys role-plays, activities, exercises, quizzes, and inspiring stories and materials to fully engage participants throughout the process, making learning both fun and more lasting.

    The Complete Workshop Package Comes in an Electronic Format with three Components:

    1- Leader's Guide: Provides Step-By-Step Facilitation Guidance with full explanation of concepts and delivery considerations.

    2- A set of PowerPoint Slides that cover key skills offered to provide visual impact and help you keep your command of content and pace.

    3- Customizable and Reproducible Participant Workbook so you can add your organization's logo or department name, and make as many copies as you need at no additional fees, saving you hundreds of dollars.

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    Our Critical Conversations Package Enables You To Deliver the Training Yourself

    You can deliver this workshop yourself  by purchasing the complete training package in MS Word: A step-by-step Leader's Guide, PowerPoint slides, Reproducible Participant's Workbook,  Regular price is $495.00 - Purchase it now for $195.00
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    Ready to Deliver Workshop: Listening for Understanding, Communicating for Commitment

    The Powerful Listening and Communication Skills Workshop that Changed the Toughest Work Culture On Earth!
    A Training Workshop In A Box, with Everything You Need to Deliver It Today!
    Powerful ready-to-use training program that teaches communication skills, including speaking, listening, giving feedback, and communicating to resolve conflict.

    It comes in a Word document with PowerPoint slides, Leader's Guide and reproducible Participant Workbook to give you everything you need to facilitate it.

    This workshop has changed the culture of work at one of the toughest work cultures in the worlds.

    Read more below..

    At Rikers Island Correction Facility in New York a few years ago, this workshop was presented to managers working in perhaps the toughest work culture in the world: delivering health services to the inmates of the jail facility.
    The dramatic change in attitude and communication practices after the workshop was noticeable to participants and to top leadership that wrote to us in recognition of our work.


    Through dramatic role-plays and habit-altering insights and exercises, participants experiment with different styles of communication and experience the results first hand. They learn to abandon negative communication habits that create conflict, and instead develop powerful communication and persuasion techniques that evoke positive action. Now they communicate not to complain or fight, but to collaborate, create and accomplish.

    A key element in this workshop is a focus on both speaking skills and listening skills, each as a powerful process for true understanding and effective interaction. Both managers and staff learn to listen and speak to each other in ways they did not think possible, creating higher levels of understanding and collaboration.

    "I wish I took this training before my secretary quit"

    That is what a department director wrote in his evaluation sheet of our Listening for Understanding. Communicating for Commitment workshop. You can help your managers, supervisors and key staff avoid a lot of problems and conflict at work by learning the powerful communication skills delivered in this workshop. Research indicates that communication is the single most important skills for people to achieve results at work. This uniquely effective workshop has helped thousands of managers and staff communicate better for dramatic breakthroughs in performance.

    An HR director of a large health system wrote about his assistant in evaluating the effect of training after nine months of attending, "She became more positive in working with others right the next day after the training, and she is still so today."
    Participants will learn the following:
    I- Adopt a Positive Communication Style
    • Discover the underlying roots of all communication breakdowns, and the three main human tendencies that create communication problems.
    • Understand the 8 Principles of Interpersonal Communication
    • Examine the impact of thinking on communication and learn to adopt the habits of mind that produce consistently effective communication
    • Explore the 4 different communication styles people use, and learn how to communicate effectively with each of them
    • Learn ways to use positive communication even in negative situations
    • Develop a credible communication style that builds trust and cooperation
    II- Speak to Evoke Action
    • Describe the behavior, not the person.
    • Use I statement to defuse tension
    • Envision the future and turn it into a conversation
    • Use Power Language to convey authority and evoke action
    • Ask, don't tell;Turning statements questions to involve and inspire
    III- Listen for Understanding
    • How to listen, not just hear
    • Bridging the barriers of perception and prejudgment
    • Creating involvement to enhance understanding
    • Completing the communication cycle: Effective feedback
    • Listening to angry people
    • What an angry customer or co-worker is looking for and how to deliver it.

    If you want us to deliver this powerful workshop at your organization Call us at: 973-427-3004

    Complete Program in Electronic Format Now Only $195.00
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    From Chatting to Challenging: The Power of Purposeful Conversation

    One of the key principles of effective communication covered in our workshop, “Critical Conversations” calls for “having purposeful conversations.” To illustrate what this means, let’s examine what Jane said to her colleague Tom on their way to the weekly department meeting: “We will have another one of those dumb meetings.”

    You will notice that Jane's sentence does not call for any particular action. It does not invite a response. It does not offer a solution or an idea. It does not provoke or challenge or inspire. Nothing needs to happen as a result of this sentence. It’s basically a statement that has no definite purpose, a wasted utterance that filled the air and resulted in no consequences, other than perhaps a polite smile.

    Now compare Jane’s useless statement with the following suggested alternative: “How can we make our department meetings more useful?” Here you will notice that by using a question instead of a statement, the sentence now requires a response. It opens a dialogue about the issue. It challenges the listener to come up with solutions. It inspires others to improve the situation. As a result, it helps move people toward achieving something better for everyone.

    In all your talk with others, use “purposeful conversations” instead of utterances that have no purpose and no impact. This way, your conversations will consistently evoke action and achieve results.

    ©  HumaNext. From “Critical Conversations”: You can deliver this workshop to your internal or external clients. Learn more on this page..

    I Gave Tom Constructive Criticism Yet He Got Upset. What Should I do?


    In a communication skills workshop I was giving to a group of middle managers, a participant asked in a frustrated voice: I know we are supposed to give only constructive criticism, but even when my criticism is very constructive, it seems to create problems. It's easy to say we should give constructive criticism, but what I really need to know is exactly how to do that. I mean, I need the exact language you'd use to give a constructive criticism.”

    I thanked her for being candid and asked her, “can you tell me exactly what you said that created a problem?"

    She replied, “I said: Tom, the report you gave me is useless because you did not support your recommendations with any data. I expected a more complete job from you.” And she explained, “You see, I believe this was a constructive criticism because I did not attack Tom as a person. I didn't say he was negligent or sloppy. I focused on the report itself and talked about what it was lacking. Yet Tom was upset and felt that I was not appreciative of his work.” How else could I have provided a constructive criticism, she asked? Am I supposed not to give any criticism at all even when the work is clearly not acceptable?

    My response was, “Here is a language you can use in this case: Tom, this is a well written report overall and I appreciate the time you have put in it. I suggest that you add data in support of each section to give more credibility to your final recommendations."

     Notice that in talking this way to Tom, you have achieved the following: 

    1. You first thanked Tom for his effort. Most employees complain that their managers show little appreciation for their work. Most managers don’t realize this fact.
    2. Then you talked about how the report can become more effective. Your focus was on the positive desire to make the report better, not on the negative focus on what the report was missing.

    With this change of focus, you turn a critical conversation into an opportunity not only for coaching Tom on writing better reports but also for strengthening the working relationship between you and Tom. This can make a significant difference in Tom’s future performance and motivation.

    © HumaNext LLC – This exchange is part of our Critical Conversations Training Workshop. You can have us deliver it at your organization for $2500 per session plus per-participant-fee. Or you can deliver it yourself by buying our off-the-shelf program, or by getting certified to learn how to deliver it.

    See more information on this page..

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    Exercise: How to Have Real Conversations at Work (From Our Critical Conversations Program)

    Instead of changing the subject, avoiding the topic, mumbling something, holding back, lashing out, telling little lies or big lies, why not have a real conversation?

    An open, honest, free-flowing, affirming, and transforming communication?

    Why not give our real, authentic thoughts to others, totally and completely, through conversations?

    Why not engage in a real conversation, bravely sharing our feelings and thoughts, declaring our intentions and visions?

    Why hide and conceal ourselves while we have at our command this freeing and transcending field-force called language?

    >How can we get closer to one another with our words? How can we transform ourselves with our self-talk?

    How can we engage with the world, with our important work in it and the people who shape it with us, through real, meaningful conversations?

    Exercise: Ask trainees, colleagues, or your staff, to form groups of three to discuss the following:

    • Which type of conversations do you have more often at work, the one described in the first sentence or the alternative?
    • What makes it difficult to engage more often in the kind of open, honest conversations described in the piece?
    • What if you decide to engage in this kind of open, authentic conversations all the time, even if others do not?
    • Who benefits more from open and honest conversations, the person who always engages in them or the person at the receiving end, at times responding in kind and at other times not responding.

    (c) 2014 HumaNext. This exercise is part of the "Critical Conversations" training workshop. See details on this page.

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    You Can Also Get Certified Online to Learn How to Deliver Our Powerful Programs

    Get Certified to Deliver our Powerful Communication Skills Training to Your Internal or External Clients

    Online Trainer Certification for delivering our most popular workshops, including Critical Conversations and Listening for Understanding, Communicating for Commitment, to your internal or external clients. Get certified from the comfort of your home anywhere in the world. Click for more details:

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    Manager as Communicator Workshop

    With the new Manager As Communicator Training Template, you will turn the organization's managers into effective advocates of business strategy and new initiatives. This training will give them the right tools and skills to communicate effectively with employees and create an open communication culture at work.

    This powerful communication training tool fills a critical need long felt by training and communication professionals, as well as operational managers and department heads in many organizations. The complete workshop package comes with a step-by-step Facilitator’s Guide, PowerPoint slides, and reproducible Participant Workbook. The long awaited "Manager As Communicator" training package is now available at a low introductory price. Read below.

    Why is this training needed? To be effective in creating a culture of continuous and credible communication throughout the organization where employees understand the business and are committed to its success, many organizations are offering special communication training for managers and supervisors.

    Numerous studies have indicated that the employees' most preferred way of hearing about matters that affect their jobs is through their immediate supervisor. The implications of this fact for organizational communication include paying special attention to supervisors and managers as primary communicators of the organization's business messages as they relate to employees' work.

    Both managers and the organization will benefit by enabling managers to become more effective communicators of company business.

    The complete workshop package comes with a step-by-step Facilitator's Guide, PowerPoint slides, and reproducible Participant Workbook.

    Order Manager As Communicator, currently priced at $195.00

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    Communication Effectiveness Profile: Discover and Empower Your Communication Style

    The powerful and versatile "What Are You Saying? / Communication Effectiveness (CEP) tool delivers many benefits as it enables you to:

    • Discover the characteristics of your communication style.
    • Provide you with a way with which to understand the components of your communication style and the way they affect the people communicating with you.
    • Give you a measurable, comparative frame of reference with which you can relate and evaluate your current and future communication effectiveness, and compare and monitor your progress toward more effective communication.
    • Understand others’ communication style and find ways to communicate more effectively with them.
    • Enable a team to chart their collective Team Communication Effectiveness Profile.
    • See a complete 360 View/ Feedback, revealing how others see your communication style.
    Order one master CEP with its Facilitator’s Guide and Team and 360 View sections in a Word document e-mailed to you with rights to reproduce unlimited number of copies for $65.00
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