Holding Honest Conversations

Do you ever feel you really SHOULD raise issues with someone at work – but yet you don’t raise them?  Maybe to give challenging feedback or to manage poor performance?  Or maybe you feel that you are not being really listened to? 

Often, we shy away from honest conversations: we feel awkward, don’t want to upset people, or are not sure how to start. Yet while these issues remain unresolved, there are consequences for us, for them and for the organisation. This half-day course will enable you to explore different approaches and techniques to ensure that these conversations really succeed.

Holding Honest Conversations is from our Leadership & Management series. At the Civil Service College, we tailor our courses to each attendee’s role and organisation, ensuring that each participant gets the most out of the training. Our courses and trainers are continuously updated and evaluated to ensure that we are always delivering the best service possible.

Key Training Features

Who Can Attend

Learning Outcomes


Key Training Features:

  • The key importance of behavioural flexibility;
  • Techniques to ensure you get your messages across with clarity;
  • Techniques to enable others to contribute to the conversation;
  • Honest conversations are brought to life via forum theatre techniques, an innovative, engaging and practical way of allowing participants to develop understanding and skills, while avoiding the discomfort of taking part in role-play.

Who Can Attend

Current leaders, anyone who aspires to take on a leadership role or who wants to hold honest, authentic conversations with others.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Recognise the impact and consequences of failing to hold effective and honest conversations and the potential benefits of doing it well;
  • Recognise that different individuals need to be supported in different ways;
  • Understand what it takes for people to be able to listen to challenging messages;
  • Explore and practice questioning and listening skills;
  • Set up an achievable action plan.



10:00 - 14:00


Available to be delivered In-House. Contact us for a quotation.


Face to face or virtual

In-House Option

This course is available In-House and can be tailored to meet your individual training requirements.


Lead Trainer

Angela Blacklaw

Angela Blacklaw

Angela has a broad range of experience working in and providing training for the public sector. Her expertise covers; communications, leadership, talent management and more.

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Angela Blacklaw

Angela Blacklaw

Angela has years of senior expertise in personal and organisational development, leadership, change, wellbeing and resilience, operating at both strategic and practitioner level. Questioning and curious, she often brings an alternative perspective and encourages others to see things differently too.

Following 20 years of supporting individual and organisational learning and change in the civil service, latterly as Head of Talent Development in the Department of Health, Angela quickly built a reputation for solid delivery.  In that time Angela has worked as an associate for respected consultancies such as Ernst & Young, Korn Ferry and the Civil Service College and is a member of the faculty of the NHS Leadership Academy.  She has worked with clients from varied backgrounds including civil servants, scientists, analysts, musicians, High Court Judges and healthcare practitioners at all levels.

Her core specialisms include:

  • Building warm, honest and challenging coaching relationships, enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible; 
  • Expertise in leadership and talent development, change, wellbeing and resilience;
  • Designing and facilitating powerful and memorable learning experiences;
  • Enabling people to learn the skills to support and challenge others.

Angela is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and an Accredited Time To Think® Facilitator.  She also holds a Certificate in Organisation Development, and a Master of Science in Human Resources. 


  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
  • Certificate in Organisation Development from the NTL Institute
  • Accredited Time To Think® Facilitator

Lead Trainer

Nicki McKay

Nicki McKay

Nicki is a consultant, trainer, facilitator and coach. She has previously worked with; NHS Leadership Academy, Department for Work and Pensions, the Competition and Markets Authority and more.

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Nicki McKay

Nicki McKay

Nicki has a wealth of expertise at a senior level within a number of organisations, both public and private. As a consultant, trainer, facilitator and coach, Nicki has worked with a variety of organisations including the NHS Leadership Academy, Department of Health, Civil Service Learning, DWP, the Competition and Markets Authority, Health Education East of England, Kent Surrey and Sussex NHS Leadership Collaborative, Human Tissue Authority, Central & Cecil Housing, Delphi Automotive and Virgin Atlantic.

Nicki’s Core Specialisms Include:

  • Proven facilitation skills: designing and delivering a range of development activities, from programmes for staff aimed at confidence-building and developing self-awareness, to leadership development programmes using experiential learning and feedback on observed behaviour
  • Qualified coach: ILM Diploma in Management Coaching and Mentoring, with experience of coaching individuals at all levels of seniority
  • Extensive experience of using psychometric tools as part of management / leadership development programmes
  • Broad experience of implementing Organisation Development initiatives and best practice, including organisation design, 360 degree feedback, competency frameworks, talent management and apprenticeship programmes

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