Module 5: Managing Difficult Conversations,
Influencing and Negotiating


  • The session will take place at the offices of Baker Botts L.L.P., 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20004.  This is the Warner Building.
  • Nearby parking garages include:
    • Columbia Square Parking Garage:  560 12th Street - Garage entrance is on 12th Street (between E and F Streets).
    • PMI Parking:  1220 E Street - Garage entrance is on E Street (between 12th and 13th Streets).
    • Park America:  555 12th Street - Garage entrance is on 11th Street (between E and F Streets).
  • Baker Botts is also Metro accessible via Metro Center Station’s orange, blue, silver and red lines by using the SW corner exit at 12th and F Streets NW.
  • There are two entrances: at the intersection of 12th and E Streets NW; or 13th and E Streets NW. Please click HERE for a map.
  • Please make sure to have photo ID with you to get past building security.  Once in the building, please go to the 10th Floor West Tower.

Friday, February 9 - The program session will run from 8:30am to 4:30 p.m.  Continental breakfast will be available starting at 8 a.m.

  • Smruti Patel, Owner and Principal, Nexus Vision.
  • Brian Brooks, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Fannie Mae, and Cindy Lewin, Former Executive Vice President and General Counsel, AARP, are the members of the Board of Advisors who will contribute to this session.
  • Robert Calabrese, Principal and Co-Founder, Business Visions Group will facilitate.




  • Read “Leadership That Gets Results” and “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.”
  • Read the Case Study: “The Case of Two Major Alberta Orchestras.”
  • View the videos: “The Lens of Understanding: Why Do People Act the Way They Do?” and “Secrets from the Science of Persuasion.”
Click Here To Download A Word Version Of This Briefing Sheet
Into Which You Can Type Your Responses To The Following Questions.


“Leadership That Gets Results”

  • What is your “go to” style when initiating difficult conversations? What is your “go to” style when engaged in a difficult conversation?
  • What have you observed concerning your impact on others when engaging these styles?
  • In which style might you want to develop greater skill? What would be the benefit were you to succeed in that?

Case Study

In 2002, both the CPO and ESO faced financial crisis that threatened their future, but by 2005 they had balanced their budgets and created a level of security, at least for the present and near term. Each employed a different strategy: CPO favoring a Transitional Leadership Team led by successful business executive and industry outsider Mike Bregazzi and ESO leveraging the financial skills and performing arts expertise of Elaine Calder. Each successfully led their respective organizations through crucial conversations and negotiations. Based on your analysis:

  • How did environmental factors (such as external regional demographics and internal organizational history) contribute specifically to each organization’s crisis?
  • Organizational leadership is often linked to its success and/or failure. How would you characterize Bregazzi’s and Calder’s leadership style?   How were they similar to one another? How were they different?
  • How is your leadership style similar to/different than Bregazzi and Calder?
  • How did Bregazzi and Calder identify and influence stakeholder engagement and stakeholder alignment?
  • How well did they initiate the tough conversations, anticipate and manage conflict?
  • How would you evaluate Bregazzi and Calder’s will and skill to influence and negotiate?
  • What can you (and/or your legal department) learn from this case study?

Video: Why Do People Act the Way They Do?

  • Using Brinkman’s “Lens of Understanding” which behaviors are most challenging for you when managing conflict with: Your boss? Peers and colleagues? Direct Reports? Internal clients? Business Partners and other stakeholders?
  • What drives most of your behaviors during conflict? The need to be in control? To be Perfect? For Approval? To get Attention?
  • How do these behaviors show up and contribute to the difficult conversation?
  • Please think of 3 examples of a difficult situation you have found yourself in. The examples can be current or from the past. Consider what you might have done or would like to do differently.

COHORT MEETING (Meet to discuss the following BEFORE Classroom Session)

  • Check in and share any additional learning from the previous session.
  • Have a brief discussion about your leadership development plan:
    • Did you complete it?
    • What did you commit to start and stop doing? (Are you doing it?)
    • How is it making a difference?
    • Did you create an accountability circle? How are you using them?
    • What action step do you need to take next on your Development Plan?
  • Recall and share a recent difficult workplace conversation that increased your self-awareness concerning:
    • Your strengths to manage it effectively.
    • Your impact on the process.
    • Your impact on the person involved.
    • Your development (will and skill) to influence, negotiate and manage these conversations more effectively.
  • Work the Case Study and discuss: Based on your analysis, which organization is best positioned for long-term future stability and growth? Why? What can your legal department learn from this case study?
  • Provide feedback to each another as you observe behaviors found in Brinkman’s “Lens of Understanding.” Share with them the behavior’s impact on you (what did it cause you to think, assume, or believe)?

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