Communication with Transparency and Integrity



Skillbuilder 1: Preparing for the Conversation

Preparing for a difficult conversation will allow you to feel more comfortable and confident, and will help you keep your composure if things get tense. It’s very common to shut down or get flustered when facing conflict, but that gets in the way of transparent communication. Preparation can help you deliver the message you want to deliver, and build trust on your team along the way.


Before heading into a conversation you know will be challenging, make sure you answer these questions:

  1. In one sentence, what do you want to communicate, and to whom? What is your core message? This will help you be clear and direct when you communicate.

  2. What does your audience need to know in order to understand your message? Not agree with your message, necessarily; just to understand. That might be:

    1. How a decision was made and who was involved

    2. What data or information was used

    3. What opportunities your team may still have for input

    4. Ensuring that they know that they are valued, important, and heard

  3. What are you most nervous about saying? This is probably the most important thing to communicate transparently! Make sure you feel confident about the story you’re about to tell.

  4. What’s the worst thing that could happen? How can you structure your conversation to help mitigate that? What norms might you set, or what phrases might you prepare, to ensure that even if the worst happens, it doesn’t derail your message.

  5. How will you check to see how your message has been received? Nothing would be worse than to invest in a tough conversation, only to find out that your team got a totally different message!

  6. What do you really want, for you, for your team, for Student Affairs, and for UC Berkeley? Use your values to ground you and guide you so you have a north star as you think on your feet.

  7. How will you take care of yourself before and after this conversation? What do you need to “get in the zone,” and what do you need to decompress?



Scripts and Phrases

​While you don't want to sound overly-scripted, it can be helpful to have some scripts and phrases in the back of your mind, especially when you're anxious or stressed about the conversation. Here are some ideas!


How to begin the conversation:

  • "I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.”

  • "I’d like to talk about ____________ with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view."

  • "I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?"

  • "I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)?" If they say, "Sure, let me get back to you," follow up with them.

  • "I think we have different perceptions about _____________________. I’d like to hear your thinking on this."

  • "I’d like to talk about ___________________. I think we may have different ideas on how to _____________________."

  • "I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well."


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