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How we support princpals and school leadership teams

Tough Conversations


Holding students, parents & staff accountable for bad behaviour & breached expectations.

 Bought to you in collaboration with Miami State High School.MSHS

Reducing conflict-related stress: The urgent need for principals

The 2011–2014 Principal Health and Wellbeing Report recommended the need for practitioner learning support in effective conflict resolution, less stressfully.

Tough Conversations: A solution based on proven techniques

Parentshop has developed Tough Conversations, a one-day professional development training course that equips primary and secondary school executives with essential tools to manage conflict, reduce stress and achieve positive outcomes with parents, students and colleagues. School executives will learn:

  • New skills to manage emotional stress – both your own and other people’s.
  • Ways to negotiate solutions to problems using a scripted mediation process.
  • Strategies to progress conversations toward achieving a pre-planned outcome.
  • Practical demonstrations of how school executives can manage difficult behaviour in others. Learn what to do and say to achieve better outcomes.
  • Further reference materials.

 Expected learning outcomes

  • Improved knowledge of how to negotiate a solution to a problem using a scripted mediation process.
  • Greater ability to remain neutral when someone becomes frustrated or upset and to manage their emotional distress.
  • Key ideas to progress the conversation towards a pre-planned outcome.
  • Awareness of how to apply this in real-life situations; what to do and say to manage difficult behaviour.
  • Readings and literature for follow-up research.

What’s included

  • Training in how to conduct difficult conversations using a script to achieve accountability.
  • A text book and manual.
  • Lunch and refreshments.
  • A terrific opportunity to spend time with other school leaders.
Video Transcript


I’m Michael Hawton from Parentshop.

I’m sure you already know that the boss of any school has to manage difficult problems every day – not the least of which are those situations involving emotions as you’re talking with parents, staff and students. The chance of conflict is exacerbated by people’s wide-ranging backgrounds, by their expectations and sometimes even people’s sense of entitlement.

When I heard that the 2014 Principal Health & Wellbeing Survey found that principals are having a higher than average incidence of bullying, threats and violence in their jobs – compounded by the emotional investment by parents – I knew that I could help. In my own work in the Family Court, I came across lots of people who were upset with the court, with their partner, or at times – even with myself.

I’d like to show you some of the things that I learnt. In Tough Conversations™, I hope to be able to teach you how to quickly assess what is happening in high-stakes conversations, and then to make on-the-spot decisions that lead to better outcomes. I will show you how to maintain your personal power, so you don’t over react or prematurely finish a conversation if you don’t need to.

I’ll demonstrate ways in which conversations can end-up going wrong  – and how you can anticipate and manage likely issues or objections. Plus, given most people have some capacity to pull themselves together, I will also show you can help that person ‘get a grip’ and then steer the conversation towards a pre-planned and positive outcome.

Tough Conversations™ is a method-based training course that will give you a kit-bag of ideas to implement back at work. The process I will teach you can be applied to many types of problems you face with adults, or even a child who is het up.

Join me at upcoming courses near you where I’ll help you with some tried and proven skills that will help you be more equipped to manage Tough Conversations™ – and that will reduce the daily stress you might come across in your workplace.

I look forward to seeing you at the next course.

All the best,

Michael Hawton

Lesson framework

  • Why people overreact.
  • Self-control factors in adults and young people.
  • How ‘frustration tolerance’ develops in people.
  • What to tolerate: how to sort what you let go ‘through to the keeper’ and what you need to address.
  • Key principles of customer service management.
  • What people will do if you challenge them.
  • A step-by-step process to address ‘a problem’.
  • How to tame tigers – how you effectively deal with offensive behaviour.
  • A video demonstration of the concepts applied to a tough conversation between a parent and a principal.

What people are saying…

94% of school principals would recommend this course to other school leaders.

Tough conversations equips you with a simple but robust process that enables effective conversation to take place.’– Ruth Gravestein, Head of Primary, Citipointe Christian College, QLD.
‘One of the best training sessions I have attended in over 20 years. The blend of education and psychological skills make the day pass quickly. The role plays were excellent because they  provided insight into the real life situations.’ – Ms Janette Atchison, School Psychologist, Woodcrest State College, Queensland.
‘The presentation was engaging and thought provoking and helpful. I have taken away many tips and resources that I will use. I look forward to attending another course soon!’– Meghan Wilson, Principal, Yagoona Public School, NSW. Click here for more testimonials.


Miami State High School

Two-part professional development course

Part 1:  Thursday 1 September |  1:30pm — 5:00pm &  Part 2:  Monday  12 September |  1:30pm — 5:00pm [ESPRESSO_TICKET_SELECTOR event_id=’3755′]


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