Life's tough talks topic for latest public lecture

9 July 2012

John Oeztel

Tough Talk: Professor John Oetzel will look at examples of difficult conversations and what can be gained from them for his inaugural professorial lecture on 17 July.

Ever wondered what good can come from having those difficult conversations? University of Waikato Professor John Oetzel will look at examples of difficult conversations and what can be gained from them at a free public lecture on 17 July.

The lecture on will explore difficult conversations that occur in teamwork and in health care services, particularly when people come from different cultural backgrounds. Dr Oetzel will draw on examples from his own and others’ research, both locally and internationally, which he says are poignant, interesting, and often very funny.

Degree of Difficulty

Dr Oetzel will discuss three core questions: What are difficult conversations and why do they occur? How does communication have positive and negative impacts? And what are some core messages about having effective difficult conversation?

Dr Oetzel says how we communicate says a lot about us as an individual. “In business, just like in a marriage, the way we communicate has a large impact on the quality of our relationships. Good communication creates good relationships and good teams. Likewise, bad or lack of communication can lead to unhealthy relationships and unproductive teams.”


He says it is common to want to avoid difficult conversations, but it is important to have them. “A lot can be gained from having the more difficult conversations. Also, how we handle the difficult stuff says a lot about us as a communicator. This is especially important for managers and team leaders.”

Inaugural professorial lectures are the university’s way of formally introducing new or recently appointed professors to the wider community. All lectures are free and open to the public.

The lecture will be held at The Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts on 17 July. Dr Oetzel is a professor of Management Communication at the Waikato Management School. His research focuses on conflict management, research methods, teamwork and communication in the health service sector including working with Māori Kaumātua and whānau about palliative care services.

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