Dialogue Matters – A Difficult Conversation Lab (Workshop)

Lecturer (assistant)
  • Ursula Caser
Duration1.5 SWS
TermSommersemester 2023
Language of instructionEnglish
Position within curriculaSee TUMonline

Admission information

See TUMonline
Note: Note: This course aims at students currently enrolled at TUM in any BA or MA program, provided there is sufficient space available.


Participants will get insight and acquire the following skills needed to communicate effectively and consensus oriented: • application of communication models and techniques: the Communication Square, Non-Violent Communication, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Active Listening and Establishing Rapport (among others) • ability to analyse conflict and conflict escalation and to implement adequate conflict management, based on e.g. the Circle of Conflict, the Nine-Stage Model of Conflict Escalation, the Mediation Process and its phases • awareness for and critical reflection of own communication and conflict management styles • ability to learn from own and others' experience in order to speed up the capacity of ad hoc analysis in critical situations and - if necessary or advisable - to adapt critical behaviour.


Communication is essential, however not always easy. Sometimes dialogue seems to be impossible; we call this difference of opinion, disagreement or even conflict. However, there is more out there: mechanical engineers and economists, live scientists and mathematicians - just to name a few – speak “different languages” inside and outside their disciplines. To communicate effectively and overcome the challenges of looming quarrels or battles is the challenge. This course offers a dedicated, fun and teaching conversation lab, an efficient way to learn specific techniques and to construct your own consense oriented language, while exchanging experiences with peers. This course assures insight on how common languages can be constructed between interlocutors from different fields, what difficult communication and conflict is like, how it escalates and how it can be mastered. Thus, it addresses a variety of communication models and techniques. Furthermore, we will look to types of difficult and toxic people and try out expert tactics to deal with them. And – last but not least – there will be room for self-reflection, recognition and management of one’s own communication and conflict resolution style(s).

Teaching and learning methods

- Lectures and elevator pitches to transfer knowledge about communication and conflict management models, attitudes and techniques in general; - Interactive exercises: - Simulations (role plays) to train different settings and aspects of - Reflections, based on experiences, performed exercises and case studies


Students must submit a self-reflection paper (2000 to 3000 words) in which they demonstrate that they have gained a deeper understanding of effective communication and conflict management. They do so by analysing a case or reflecting their own and other´s communication patterns and behaviour in conversations, discussions and/or conflict situations. In the paper, students demonstrate that they have acquired a greater awareness for their own implicit or explicit communication and conflict management patterns, relevant challenges and possible solutions how to overcome them. This course is assigned to the following modules: CLA11313 Conflict Management and Conducting Discussions (1 Credit) Please note that you can only contribute each module once in your studies

Recommended literature

GLASL, F. (1999): Confronting Conflict: A First-Aid Kit for Handling Conflict; 192 p.; Hawthorn House, UK FISHER, R. & Ury, W. (2012). Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. 3rd revised Edition; 240 p.; Penguin Books, New York, NY, USA. MOORE, Ch. (2014). The Negotiating Process – Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict. 4th revised Edition; 704 p.; Jossey-Bass Publishers. San Francisco, CA, USA. ROSENBERG, M. (2015): Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition; 280 p., Puddle Dancer Press, USA SCHULZ v. THUN, F. (2004) Six Tools for Clear Communication: The Hamburg Approach in English Language; 69 p.; Arbeitsgruppe Beratung und Training, Fachbereich Psychologie, Hamburg, D.