Faculty Development

Navigating Difficult Dialogues

Navigating difficult dialogues with anyone isn't always easy. And now, more than ever, it needs to be our collective responsibility to continue developing our skills to navigate our interpersonal interactions so that growth and learning can result. One of the first and most powerful moves you can make is viewing conflict or those difficult moments as an opportunity for learning and connection to occur. 

These resources below are simply a starting point. If you have additional resources we could add to this list, please send us an email (facdev@csun.edu). 

Free books on how to navigate difficult dialogues

  • The University of Alaska Anchorage with Alaska Pacific University created the book Start Talking for professors seeking guidance on how to engage with students on "some of the most important topics of our time." For an array of resources, visit their website.
  • Dr. Kathy Obear offers a free copy of her book, Turn the Tide: Rise Above Toxic Difficult Situations in the Workplace (after signing up for her newsletter).

Resuming class after the election & other critical events in the news

Informal and formal dialogues are occurring between faculty on what we can do in light of yet another national display of explicit racism in Charlottesville. If you have other teaching related ideas to add here send them directly to .

The University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning & Teaching provided insights on how professors can engage with students about the election results. This website includes guidelines for discussing difficult or controversial topics and responding to difficult moments

Ideas on how to navigate discussions about difference in the classroom

4 steps when navigating difficult moments with anyone (Open The Front Door)

When someone says something upsetting, what are your options for responding? Do you freeze, flee, or even fight back? What if there was another option that could result with deeper learning and understanding? What exact words can be said in that exact moment? Open The Front Door (based on the work called Non-Violent Communication) is a 4-step process to navigate micro-aggressions or any other conflicting moments:

  1. Observations
  2. Thinking
  3. Feeling
  4. Desires

To learn about these steps, check out a handout PDF icon by Drs Cynthia Ganote, Floyd Cheung, & Tasha Souza. 

Who else at CSUN can help faculty learn these skills?

We have a host of experts right here at CSUN who have been doing this work in the classroom for years. Consider getting involved with these campus organizations/programs/grants/offices: