Killing dreams softly: Managing difficult stakeholder conversations


This session will put you on the inside track to finding the “yes” message hidden inside every necessary “no.” Great content relies on articulating clear priorities and empowering expertise to determine what to say, how to say it, to whom, and where. Priorities lead to better outcomes. They also result in difficult conversations about ideas, processes, or words that didn’t make the cut, or even worse, in team logjams and costly delays.

Yes, you can keep your priorities intact while genuinely honoring everyone’s input. In this session, Courtney will share practical, (mostly!) stakeholder-approved techniques developed through real-life, hard-won, battle-tested, emoji-filled experience.

In this session, you’ll work to:

  • Understand the connection between effective conflict management and a healthy work environment that promotes diversity, inclusion, and respect.
  • Identify personal triggers for yourself and others so that you can plan ahead to sidestep unproductive conversations.
  • Develop a personalized framework for communication that honors stakeholder expertise and input without sacrificing project priorities or timeline.

Who should attend: People just embarking on any degree of project management; conflict-avoiders; and those who tend toward a very structured, logical approach and/or complain about soft skills being too wishy-washy to be actionable will likely benefit most from the session’s step-by-step framework for approaching specific, common situations.

Courtney McDonaldCourtney McDonald

Learner Experience & Engagement Librarian, University of Colorado Boulder Libraries

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