Building Conversational Competence


A two day workshop to explore the art and science of conversation, using a variety of perspectives and effective conversational tools and processes.

We will explore how to use conversation to its fullest and what it means to be learning this skill together. How many of us get it right? Conversation is the most powerful and under-utilised tool we have. If we can change the way we talk to and listen to people, we can become more effective overnight.

Are you wondering how best to have a difficult conversation? Perhaps it is time to end a relationship, give the boss feedback about his/her behaviour, talk to a team member who is not honouring commitments, or deal with a rebellious teenager. Conversations are the defining moments that literally shape our lives, our relationships and our world. Choosing to do them well really matters with so much at stake.

We will begin to explore how selecting the right conversation can be helpful and how to plan for and structure conversations and draw on a host of tips and processes that really work. We will discover how to build a safe, respectful context to ensure equality and the best possible outcome.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

This workshop will equip leaders with a substantial and highly relevant tool kit to ensure successful conversations and interventions. We will draw from a powerful set of distinctions from well-researched, leading edge disciplines and approaches. These include philosophy, ontology, psychology and core corporate methodologies. The programme provides the language and context for embodied practice and what it takes to transform oneself and be a catalyst for change in society today. 

Who should attend?

Anyone committed to the work of personal change and transformation: managers, leaders, staff, parents, family members, teachers, facilitators, coaches, mentors and friends.

Learning approach

We will use a variety of experiential methods, including interactive presentation, conversation and audio-visual clips. Participants will have the opportunity to work alone, in pairs and in small groups.


  • Leading self – building character and capacity
  • Leader as learner
  • Enemies of learning
  • An exploration of our ‘way of being’
  • A closer look at the technology of language and linguistic actions
  • Taking responsibility for our interpretations and perceptions
  • Creating structured conversational contexts
  • Types of conversations and when to use them
  • Keys to mastering conversations
  • Managing our listening
  • Dialogue skills and tools
  • Tips for handling difficult conversations


Vicky Coates runs her own consultancy, Transformer Leadership. She is committed to the work of personal leadership development and capacity building, which she has offered as a facilitator, coach and mentor. She has worked extensively with individuals, groups and corporates in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, USA and England.