This workshop is jointly sponsored by the Office of Inclusive Leadership and the Office of Human Resources.

How do you express your concern when you are offended by someone else’s remarks?  How do you speak up when emotions are heightened?  What do you do if you are worried about being misunderstood?  How do you have the conversation that just seems too difficult to have?

Conversations around sensitive topics, with areas of disagreement or ambiguity, fear of making a mistake, or using a wrong word that might offend, are types of difficult conversations.  Many of us choose to avoid these, and others step into them sometimes not well prepared.  There are ways to improve how we think about difficult conversations, and skills we can learn to help express both the content and the feelings when the only choice might seem to be to fight or flee.

Preparing for a sensitive conversation starts with understanding:

  • the importance of knowing your goal for having the conversation
  • your biases toward the other person, or the topic
  • the immediate and lived-experience contexts you and the other person bring to the conversation
  • the roles of power, difference, and privilege.

Skills that can help include:

  • “Humble Inquiry”, a set of listening skills established by MIT professor Edgar H. Schein
  • DESC: the active communication method of Describe the situation, Express your feelings, Specify what you need, and express Consequences.

Through this program, explore the concepts that underlie a difficult conversation, and then practice the skills needed to improve our abilities in having them.

Presenter Robert C. Amelio

About the Presenter

Robert has worked in the areas of diversity and inclusion, human resources, and organizational development for many years.  Most recently he was the Director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence at Emerson College in Boston.  In this role he worked with faculty, staff, and students to design initiatives and programs to enhance understanding and develop skills in diversity, inclusion, building effective teams, and intercultural competency.  He also led the college-wide campus climate committee, the campus climate staff/faculty, and student surveys, and developed the staff rewards and recognition program.

Prior to his work at Emerson, he was the Vice President of Diversity and Talent Development at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and Human Resources Representative and Director of Diversity and Development at Harvard Medical School.  In these roles Robert specialized in creating solutions to challenging employee, management, and team situations through problem analysis and assessment, and delivery of customized programs.

During the last three years Robert has provided diversity and inclusion consulting and training services to Harvard University, Endicott College, Amherst College, Brandeis University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Lasell College. He has a Master of Social Work degree from Simmons College, a Master of Arts degree from Emerson College, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont.

Please register early as enrollment is limited for this session.

Date Time Location
Tuesday, September 24
9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Alumni House
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