The Discomfort Zone: Turning Difficult Conversations into Positive Results

Workshop  (keynote description below the outline):

Difficult conversations can be fruitless or they can be the most meaningful moments you will have as a leader.

You have to be willing to challenge how a person thinks. They may feel uncomfortable, but this is how you help them grow.

Managing difficult conversations and knowing how to get good results from emotionally charged moments are important skills for all leaders to have. If done the right way, there is a moment in the discomfort that changes everything. The person sees through the cracks. They see their limitations. They see what they can do and they see who else they can be. And they always remember the leader who had the courage to help them see.

Do you want to be the leader who made a difference in the life of your employees?


  • Learn the latest research on the brain, how we learn and what drives the motivation to change.
  • Create the right conditions for your conversation to have positive results, opening the minds of people you work with.
  • Tap into your entire nervous system when listening to others so you can hear what is needed to change their minds.
  • Practice skills that break through resistance and reveal blind spots.
  • Manage your emotions during an intense conversation.

Participants will leave with a toolbox of techniques to immediately begin making positive changes in their conversations.

“I always find your sessions motivate me to make a big step forward. I can clearly see the value in allocating more time in coaching and giving feedback to my team.  Every day as I feel I am getting stronger in choosing the right words and forming the right questions, and then understanding their answers at a much deeper level. The results are impressive. Thank you again.. I look forward to the next session with you.”   – Vassilis Karonis, Cluster Manager at Seago Line

Watch a Video on When and Why to Use a Discomfort Zone Approach in Your Conversations…


Watch more videos that explain key concepts in the class on this page.


Session one

  1. How people learn new behaviors
    1. Explore the 3 ways people learn and differentiate fact-based and fear-based learning from insight-based learning that ensures behavioral change.
    2. Distinguish the impact of appraising, helping, and challenging and determine how to choose the best action in situations.
    3. Recognize the shift happening today in what people want and expect from their leaders that motivates change.
  2. When do you choose a Discomfort Zone Conversation
    1. Define the conditions for choosing different leadership conversations.
    2. Assess your tendencies for responding to situations and what you need to do to adapt your style.

Session two

  1. How to listen for what to say
    1. Practice listening at 3 different stages.
    2. Identify the purpose and practice of listening at Stage 2.
    3. Discover what you can hear at Stage 3.
    4. Define the most common emotional triggers in your workplace.
  2. Access your intuition
    1. Learn how your nervous system responds to stimuli and sends signals to the brain.
    2. Practice listening to the 3 major processing centers in your nervous system to better understand what is blocking a person from moving forward.

Session three

  1. Holding a discomfort zone conversation
    1. Learn how to use the DREAM model to create a breakthrough moment.
    2. Explore how use reflections as well as questions to help people think about their thinking.
    3. Learn the 3 step process for opening a difficult conversation.
    4. Practice holding difficult conversations using the model as a guide.
  2. Creating trust in the conversation
    1. What is needed for someone to trust you enough to have these conversations? Learn how to increase your odds for success
    2. Shift your emotional intention to create a sense of safety.
    3. Determine what regard you have for the person and what you need to do to shift your thoughts.

Session four

  1. What will it take for you to continue your development?
    1. Create a personal development plan.
    2. Identify support mechanisms in yoour organization and person circles to support your personal growth.


Marcia will highlight the elements of a successful Discomfort Zone conversation and demonstrate how your audience can begin to use the methods in their daily conversations. The program is both inspirational and instructional.

The Discomfort Zone: Turning Negativity into Positive Results

Whether at work or in your personal life, there are few things tougher than having those difficult, yet necessary conversations. You want your people to stretch their limits, but conversations meant to help them often fall flat or backfire, creating more resistance than growth. Everyone should know how to approach and shift these conversations into positive interactions if possible.

In this session, Dr. Marcia Reynolds will teach how to set the tone of the conversation for maximum results, what to say to start off the conversation, and then how to use the Discomfort Zone—the moment when the mind is most open to learning—to prompt people to think through problems, see situations more strategically, and transcend their limitations. The method is proven to resolve difficult situations and change people’s minds forever.


Participants will learn how to:

  • Mentally prepare for an uncomfortable conversation.
  • Start the conversation with an engaging statement
  • Shift how someone thinks about a situation.
  • Ask questions that inspire changes in perception and behavior.

Dr. Reynolds is a pioneer in the coaching profession and constantly upgrades her techniques through research and testing as she teaches coaching workshops and leadership classes for large corporations and coaching schools around the world. The skills taught in this workshop are described in her new book, The Discomfort Zone: How Leaders Turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs.

You can watch Dr. Reynolds present at conferences and give a presentation at Google on her website at

You can also watch her webinar on the topic:
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