Rady School of Management, UC San Diego

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About the Program

Many business situations challenge even the most experienced and skillful communicator. Whether you are facing a difficult conversation with a stakeholder, colleague or employee, how you handle these conversations can determine your success or failure. Take the skills learned in this course and start applying them immediately for the confidence and camaraderie that gets you the results you need to succeed.


Difficult Conversations will teach you how to communicate with finesse to achieve desired goals. Your difficult conversation could include terminating an employee, dealing with discipline issues, explaining you lack the funds to make payment, dealing with coworkers and much more. Regardless of your situation, the tools learned in this course will make an immediate impact in your conversations surrounding any difficult situation.



Course runs from 7:45am–12pm. Registration fee includes course materials, campus parking and refreshments.

Josh Pingel
Program Manager


Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Build trust and maintain rapport
  • Effectively listen and get credit for listening from others
  • Give actionable feedback
  • Engage others in a constructive dialogue involving difficult issues and highly emotional content

Related Courses


“Alexander Zak is the best presenter that I’ve seen in these courses.”

Previous Learning Consortium participant


This course is appropriate for executives and leaders responsible for business success. This includes those responsible for developing or influencing business strategy or driving change in their organization.


Alexander Zak, Ph.D. is an award winning faculty member at UC San Diego, who teaches a broad range of graduate courses at the Rady School of Management, the Jacobs School of Engineering and the School of Theater and Dance. He is a thought leader, a trusted advisor and an educator, with a broad range of global experience in building leadership capacity to solve complex business problems, develop insight, execute and drive change. His expertise is in creating business value by orchestrating experiential learning, consulting and coaching engagements focused on visionary outcomes.

Zak is a charismatic speaker who consistently receives outstanding evaluations from audiences around the world on a diverse range of topics: personal and team leadership, client relationships and business development, strategy and execution, engineering management, as well as numerous others.

Zak has taught, coached and served clients, within some of the world's leading multinational corporations and professional service firms for over a decade, including: McKinsey & Co., Booz Allen Hamilton, Egon Zehender, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Warburg Pincus, Permira, Cisco, EMC, Avaya, ViaSat, Ericsson, Infosys, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Ford Motor Co., Caterpillar, Ingersoll Rand, Disney, Genentech, CB&I, Skanska and Cargill.

Zak holds a doctorate in engineering and masters in management. His work and research is in strategic problem solving methodologies, management of complexity in enterprise systems and development of executive leadership capacity. Zak is fluent in English and Russian and is certified in MBTI ®.