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Hard Conversations Unpacked

The Whos, the Whens, and the What-Ifs
By: Jennifer Abrams

Foreword by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
A Joint Publication with Learning Forward

Prepare for hard conversations by knowing what to plan for before, during, and after the talk. Explore potential influences and discover how to frame growth-producing, other-centered outcomes.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781506302904
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2016
  • Page Count: 112
  • Publication date: December 23, 2015

Price: $31.95

Price: $31.95
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Learn to speak up for what really matters

Tough talks are never easy, but in her best-selling book, Having Hard Conversations, Jennifer Abrams showed educators how to speak intentionally with colleagues about work-related issues through a planned, interactive, and personal approach. In this sequel, she moves readers deeper into the nuances of how to prepare for those conversations while building expectations for positive and meaningful outcomes.

Putting clarity before accountability, or by being clear about what should be understood before going in, can and will increase the favorable results of those tough talks. With an emphasis on what needs to happen before, during, and after hard conversations, this resource explores

  • What humane, growth-producing, and “other-centered” conversations sound like
  • How race, culture, gender, and generational filters influence perceptions and how to account for them
  • How to spot and work with organizational dynamics that could influence discussions
  • How to conduct hard conversations with supervisors

Plan for positive outcomes from hard conversations. Let this resource empower you to expect and professionally navigate environmental influences, unexpected pushback, and uncomfortable silences toward real understanding and progress.

"Abrams, who cites a broad and current body of literature, provides a valuable rationale for why certain ways of talking are more effective than others."
Robert J. Garmston - Professor Emeritus & Co-Developer of COgnitive Coaching & Adaptive Schools
California State University, Sacramento

"In order to grow as learners, educators and leaders, we need to be provided with feedback that will enhance our growth. That feedback doesn't come easily. We shy away from providing honest feedback because we're afraid it will be "taken the wrong way." That is why I love Having Hard Conversations 2.0. Jennifer Abrams brings us through the process beautifully with a great deal of honesty, and we can learn a great deal from her insight. This is an important read for anyone in education."
Peter De Witt - Former School Principal
Finding Common Ground Blog, Corwin

Key features

(1) Designed to promote a deeper understanding of what needs to happen before, during, and after hard conversations.
(2) Emphasizes the critical need for greater clarity around the goals and desired outcomes of hard conversations ("clarity precedes accountability")
(3) Includes many new and important topics that weren't addressed in the first Hard Conversations book, e.g., filters of perception such as race and gender, the significance of organizational politics, productive responses ("what if they say this to you?"), and effective listening strategies.
(4) Comes with an array of valuable tools, templates, and checklists to ensure that participants have what they need after leaving the training room.
(5) Includes a variety of vignettes and case studies, based on Abrams' own practice.
(6) Under discussion: video clips linked to book via QR codes. (We can use the clips developed for Abrams's Hard Conversations course as the foundation for this)


Jennifer Abrams photo

Jennifer Abrams

Consulting Description

Jennifer Abrams is an international educational and communications consultant for public and private schools, hospitals, universities and non-profits. She trains and coaches teachers, administrators, nurses, hospital personnel and others on successful instructional practices, new employee support, supervision and evaluation, generational savvy, having hard conversations and effective collaboration skills.

In Palo Alto USD (Palo Alto, CA), Abrams led professional development sessions and provided new teacher and supervisor trainings at both the elementary and secondary level. From 2000-2011, she was lead coach for the Palo Alto-Mountain View-Los Altos-Saratoga-Los Gatos Consortium’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program.

In her educational consulting work, she has presented at annual conferences such as Learning Forward, ASCD, NASSP, and the New Teacher Center Annual Symposium, as well as at the Teachers’ and Principals’ Centers for International School Leadership. Her communications consulting in the health care sector includes training and coaching work at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Stanford Hospitals.

Her publications include Having Hard Conversations, published by Corwin Press in 2009, the chapter “Habits of Mind for the School Savvy Leader” in Art Costa’s and Bena Kallick’s book Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success, and contributions to the book Mentors in the Making: Developing New Leaders for New Teachers published by Teachers College Press. Her most recent book with co-author Valerie Von Frank, Generational Savvy: How to be Effective with Educators of All Generations, was published by Corwin Press in 2013.

She considers herself a “voice coach,” helping others learn how to best use their voices, be it in a group, in front of a classroom, coaching a colleague, in a supervisory role and most recently in writing for the stage, as she does as a Board Member of the National New Play Network. Abrams holds a Master’s degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor’s degree in English from Tufts University.

Watch clips of Abrams' interview with NPR's Claudio Sanchez, from the ASCD Master Class Leadership Series

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey



About the Author

Chapter 1. Is This Really a Hard Conversation or Something Else?

Chapter 2. Clarity, Clarity, Clarity

Chapter 3. Being Other-Focused: Planning the Hard Conversation

Chapter 4. Organizational Politics, Working With Supervisors or Groups, and Hard Conversations

Chapter 5. Scripting a Humane, Growth-Producing Conversation

Chapter 6. What If They Say . . . ? Possible Responses

Chapter 7. How to Be a Better Recipient of Feedback


Resource: Inspirational Quotes for Having Hard Conversations

References and Suggested Readings




Price: $31.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.