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Sheila Heen on Difficult Conversations

Learn How to Discuss What Matters Most from a Harvard Law Professor and Bestselling Author

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Whether we’re dealing with an under-performing employee, disagreeing with our partner, or negotiating with a difficult client, we attempt or avoid difficult conversations every day. No matter how competent or experienced we are, we all have conversations that cause anxiety and frustration.

This is particularly true for people working in the social sector. They’re often faced with situations where they need to untangle differing perspectives, advocate for those who are underserved, or simply manage their employees and volunteers while facing resource constraints.

During this course, you’ll learn practical strategies to handle difficult conversations with grace and agility while achieving productive results. Taught by Sheila Heen, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback, this course will introduce you to actionable insights to understand the 3 layers of every difficult conversation. You’ll learn how to authentically shift from a stance of blame and certainty to one of learning and openness. You’ll also practice tactics like “starting from the third story” to help neutralize the toxic dynamics of difficult conversations and achieve more productive results. Finally, you’ll understand how and why emotions and issues of identity frequently come up in these challenging dialogues—and how you can address them preemptively and professionally while being authentic and empathetic.

This course is for anyone who needs to work together with other people—in their personal or professional lives—to achieve something tough but meaningful together.


Your Instructor


Sheila Heen
Sheila Heen
Sheila Heen is the co-author of Difficult Conversations and Thanks for the Feedback. She is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a faculty member for the Harvard Negotiation Project, and a Founder of Triad Consulting Group.

Course Curriculum


  Section 3: The "Feelings" Layer: How to Name Emotions without Getting Emotional
Available in days
days after you enroll

Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact courses@plusacumen.org in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.
Will I get feedback on my assignments or directly interact with the instructors?
No. This is a self-paced learning resource. You will get out of the course what you put into it so we encourage active self-reflection and participation in all exercises, but there will be no graded assignments or direct feedback from instructors. You will have access to a community forum where you can share your work and ideas with others taking the course.
Will I get a certificate for completing the course?
Yes! If you complete all video content and exercises, you will receive a Statement of Accomplishment from +Acumen.
Can I purchase bulk seats in the course?
Yes! If you are interested in purchasing this course for multiple people at your organization, please reach out to courses@plusacumen.org for pricing details. We are happy to discuss group discounts.
Can I get a receipt?
Of course! When you enroll in the course, an email confirming your purchase will be sent to you directly. This email will itemize your transaction so you can save a copy. If you need another format, you can email courses@plusacumen.org and we're happy to help you.

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