Straight Talk Outline and Practices (1-day)



The Straight Talk Vision

An engaging view of the learning outcomes, and a business rationale for the direct, fair, accountability-based communication called Straight Talk.

The Straight Talk Mindset

Participant pairs discuss where they fall along the Straight Talk Continuum of Passive, Aggressive, or Assertive, explore mental blocks to more constructive communication, and accept personal accountability for increased Straight Talk.

Assertive, Passive or Aggressive?

With negative and positive “Lightning Round” drills, the group learns precise visual, vocal, and verbal behaviors for three classic communication modes.

Assertive Speaking (A.B.C.‘s)

Many energizing activities and drills teach foundational skills of assertive delivery and appropriate honesty versus brutal or non-tactful expression, bias free language versus loaded wording (including curbing “flaming
emails”) and checking reactions versus monologuing.

Active Listening (F.E.E.)

Learning focusing, exploring and empathizing skills in intensive drills, including our signature “Fishbowl” format, where the trainer works one on one with participants for direct feedback.

Preparation for “Pulling It Together”

Participants learn two kinds of commitments to achieve, target agreements they can forge back at work, get feedback on the Gaining Commitment Conversation Format they have prepared, and see a “live” demonstration of Gaining Commitment. This previews the afternoon practice when they will integrate the skills.



Cumulative Trio Practice

In trios, participants practice and receive critique on how well they integrate their newly honed assertive speaking and active listening skills with the step-by-step “G.A.I.N.” Conversation Format for Gaining Commitment on tasks, requests, behavior changes, new policies, or roles.

Rough Sailing Conversation Formats

We learn two challenging preparation Formats: Reminding about faltering commitments, milestones, deadlines, or standards, and confronting problem behaviors. Participants prepare for tougher, emotion-laden conversations.

Understanding Emotional Reactions

Through experiential exercises, the group learns the psychological truth about volatile emotional reactions, and how to maintain proper perspective.

Defusing Defenses & Resistance

Through dynamic presentations and dramatic “live” demonstrations with group volunteers, the group learns to de-escalate strong reactions. The group drills intensively with trainers in a second “Fishbowl,” with personalized feedback.

Cumulative Trio Practice

In pairs, participants integrate learning with a drill using speaking, listening, a Rough Sailing Conversation Format, and the defusing defensiveness steps.

Building a Straight Talk Culture

Leaders are stewards for a positive work environment, so participants learn to build a culture of open, direct, respectful communication. They get on-the-job reinforcement aids to reinforce, sustain, assess, coach, and teach their skills.

Lack of interpersonal savvy leads to losses…


Lack of personal accountability

Performance gaps

Less innovation and fewer new ideas

Eroded work relationships due to cop-outs or bullying others

Reduced feedback and conflict resolution

Work climates of resentment versus commitment


Failure to speak up, voice ideas, or get your needs met

Decreased energy and physical health

Lower morale and job engagement

Lower confidence and self respect

Straight Talk is also available as a Two-Day Workshop with more drills and applications.

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