Crucial Conversations

Crucial Conversations® is available to anyone who is interested in learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same).

In this program you will learn how to surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on your decisions with unity and commitment.

After the live, online, 12-hour course, you will be able to:

  • Resolve conflict
  • Speak your mind truthfully and tactfully
  • Reach alignment when stakes are high and opinions vary
  • Navigate the most important interactions at home and work



Course information

Research has shown that we all struggle to confront our peers when we see errors being made or issues that impact team morale and the quality of our work. These conversations are high stakes and often difficult to initiate. 

There are seven high-stakes conversation areas in particular, where people tend to have difficulty. These include situations where rules are broken, mistakes are made, there is a lack of support, incompetence, poor teamwork, disrespect, and/or micromanagement. 

Participants of Crucial Conversations® will receive a toolkit, a copy of the New York Times bestselling book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High (2nd Ed.), as well as access to online resources to help refine their skills and retain learning.

Funding opportunities

This program is eligible for:

  • Professional development funding available to UofA support staff through the Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF). Funding is now open for applications for a course, workshop, seminar or training program that takes place between Jul. 1 and Sept. 30, 2024
  • Alberta Medical Association (AMA) CME reimbursement under Quality Improvement Cost on the Application form.

This comprehensive course is available to anyone who is interested in learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same).

Please contact for more information.

Refund Policy:

Full refunds, cancellations, and transfers will be accepted up until digital course materials are sent out (usually 1-2 weeks prior to the course start date) after that time, we will only be able to issue a partial 50% refund, once the course begins there are no refunds.

A minimum of 10 registrations are required in order to run the course. 

If the workshop is canceled by the Office of Lifelong Learning due to low enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances, you will be issued a full refund or have the option of transferring your enrollment to another open session. 


Crucial Conversations is hosted by Debrah Wirtzfeld, MD, ACC, MBA, an adjunct Professor of Surgery at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. 


Debrah has spent the last 15 years studying leadership and has identified a few important things that can enhance your success, whether leading informally through supporting your patients or leading change within the healthcare system. 

Known as a collaborative leader, Debrah has a passion for harnessing success in others through her work as a change agent and Executive Coach. She considers Crucial Conversations to be one of the pillars of effective leadership as it gives you the skills to open doors to resolving conflict, managing negotiations, and building relationships. She believes that being able to listen with empathy and truly hearing others will take you to the next level in your career. It will empower you to understand your patients, relate to your colleagues, and even build on important personal relationships!


"Crucial Conversations is one of the best leadership courses that I have ever taken. Partway through the course, I already was using the skills that were being taught. I have substantially more confidence and skills to have crucial conversations, and appreciate the ability to analyze when I need to shift gears and what I can shift. I will be recommending Crucial Conversations to people who are entering leadership positions or even those who want to have more effective conversations with their teams."

"This was a phenomenal course and I really wish I had taken it 10 or 20 years ago; I really believe every learner should take it.  So insightful and helpful in terms of strategies to change a conversation from a huge conflict to a common goal."

"Debrah you are a gifted instructor; the pace, moderation, and instruction around these tools was crystal clear and relevant to every day conversations.  A million thanks to you and Melanie!"

"Overall good course that informed me of the traps I have fallen into during difficult conversations"