Awkward Conversations

It is an inevitable fact of life, often met with apprehension, reluctance and even tactical avoidance but awkward or difficult conversations are something we will have recurring experience of during our lifetime. Be it in our personal lives, or the workplace, as the recipient or the initiator, navigating how to handle these conversations can be a complex and intimidating affair.

The issue with awkward conversations is that they are often needed to be had, and when done right they can be informative, lead to a greater understanding, expanded perspectives…and dare I say it, even a resolution. When done right, they can move us forward.

But there are often a lot of variables at play – differing ideas and opinions, negative attitudes, defensiveness and fear of judgement are just a few of the causations that mean we approach these conversations with trepidation, and can all too often result in heads butting, voices not being heard and communication breaking down. The question is then, how do we handle these conversations? If there are so many potential benefits that can be reaped from an awkward or challenging conversation gone well, what can we do to make this a reality?

On the 24th January, the Health and Social Care Academy, in partnership with COPE Scotland will explore how to hold challenging conversations without them breaking down. As part of Workforce Scotland’s Firestarter Festival, a weeklong festival aimed to shake up and transform the way we work through a series of creative, disruptive and innovative collaborative learning events, Awkward Conversations will tackle the proverbial elephant in the room and explore how to create a psychologically safe space that will facilitate the opportunity for people to share some challenging issues without fear of being mocked or judged.

In health and social care, especially in the pursuit of transformational change in health and social care, awkward conversations will be an unavoidable part of the process. But if we can create the space to have these conversations in a purposeful, open and respectful way, then perhaps awkward won’t be something to be feared.

For further information on Awkward Conversations, and to book your place at this free event visit the Eventbrite page. Follow @HandSCAcademy on Twitter for updates.

The Roots of Democratic Culture – Lisa Curtice

The Roots of Democratic Culture

You know the feeling. The meeting feels stuck. One person keeps making the same point, only more vociferously, another insists on bringing up something else just as the Chair tries to move the agenda on.  The rest have switched off and stopped trying to participate. Decisions are postponed and power relationships are reinforced.

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Podcast: Courageous Leadership – “Walking The Journey With Others”

How can courageous leadership support health and social care integration?

In the latest Academy podcast we hear directly from Anne Houston, Director of Coaching for Life Limited, who is an experienced facilitator of leadership development programmes, to consider how leadership can encourage transformational change.  Anne offers us her thoughts on the conditions required to put these principles at the forefront and how leadership can be enabling of others within the new landscape.

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‘2 Millions Expert Voices’: Listening, Learning and Leading Change

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the ALLIANCE, and to mark the occasion: our annual conference, held in partnership with the Academy will explore how collectively we have can work in partnership achieve greater outcomes for the people of Scotland.

With renewed political energy in Scotland following the 2016 Holyrood election, we’ll look to the future and ways of improving the lives of the two million people across Scotland who are disabled, living with long term conditions and unpaid carers.

Our annual conference will focus on practical ways to hear the voice of lived experience, learn from others about changing support and services for the better and lead from the front in developing new models of care.

Pennie Taylor will chair this event and Cabinet Secretary for Health Wellbeing and Sport will address delegates.

The agenda for the day can be found here.
Attend if you have an interest in improving health and social care in Scotland.

Register your place today by downloading the conference booking form and returning to

If you would like to keep up to date with the latest news in the run-up to the conference, or contribute on the day, please use the hashtag #2MExperts

There are a number of sponsorship opportunities available at the conference.
Please contact the events team for further information on 0141 404 0231 or email

Leading the Commitment – Strengthening Leadership Roles

The new Health and Social Care Partnerships present opportunities for developing leadership at all levels. This was recognised early doors by the Learning Disability Nurse leadership team in NHS Ayrshire and Arran. They obtained funding from NHS Education for Scotland to invite the whole learning disability nurse workforce to a day of inspiration and reflection on their professional responsibilities in the light of the changing landscape of health and social care. The Health and Social Care Academy was invited to provide facilitation at the event through Lisa Curtice of the ALLIANCE’s People Powered Health and Wellbeing (PPHW) Programme.

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Participatory Leadership and the Nature of our Conversations

We are in a world that is connected, but not communicating
Tariq Ramadan

The world is changing faster than ever before, and organisations today are facing complex challenges never experienced before.  Yet we are not creating conversations that matter and are not harnessing the collective wisdom of our sociality.

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