Office of Ombuds Services Workshop Descriptions (Summary)
Featured Workshop
Getting Unstuck: Intro to Ombuds' Services

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What IS an ombuds and how can they help me "get unstuck" with challenges and conflicts I face at UT?

The Office of Ombuds Services helps to empower graduate students, staff, and faculty to navigate challenges related to their experiences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In this interactive session, participants will be introduced to a range of free services from the Office of Ombuds Services, our perspectives on conflict as a tool for innovation, and our key approaches to navigating challenging situations.

No challenge too small or too big - we are here to help!

This presentation will also include scenarios of typical challenges brought to the Ombuds, the standards & ethics we follow, and how to access our consultation, mediation, and educational services. 15 minutes reserved for Q&A in this session.

Zoom link for the 12/6/23 session:

Featured Workshop
PSL-Creating a More Psychologically Safe Working Environment

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~ Having explored your own psychological safety needs & reactions, what next?
~ How can you support others in your workplace to improve their own feelings of psychological safety?
~ What can you do to create workplace change that strengthens psychological safety for all?

We believe all team members can support and lead efforts to create a more psychological safe working environment. This session will briefly summarize key concepts of psychological safety* and ask you to share your recent efforts in strengthening psychological safety at work. We will then examine key strategies for creating a more psychologically safe working environment. Topics include: appreciative listening, clarifying shared expectations & purpose; pro-active inquiry; destigmatizing failure; modeling inclusivity; & continuous renewal.

This interactive workshop includes self-reflection, breakout discussion, and action planning activities. We will use breakout rooms for discussion and practice; access to microphone and camera recommended. Attendance via phone not recommended.

*Highly recommended pre-requisite: Completion of ombuds' PSS- Working Together in Psychological Safety: Discussions on Belonging>/i> workshop, or having read the following open access article:
>> Radecki, D. (2019) Stress Reaction. Association for Talent Development, Vol.73 (9), p.40-45. Available through the UT library to logged in users. Contact if you need but cannot access this article.

Featured Workshop
PSS –Working Together in Psychological Safety: Discussions on Belonging

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Have you ever felt afraid to speak up or share your ideas for fear of repercussions or causing conflict? Do you feel uncomfortable expressing or being yourself in the workplace? Are you concerned about staff or peers who have expressed similar concerns? You are not alone!

In this virtual session, you will discuss the importance of psychological safety in open and honest workplace communication, take steps to self-assess your own psych safety needs, and learn strategies to engage in respectful dialogue with peers about increasing psych safety in the workplace. Topics include: workplace culture, belonging, interpersonal risk-taking, compassionate dialogue, and the effects of increased psychological safety on workplace effectiveness and innovation. This interactive workshop includes self-reflection, breakout discussion, and action planning activities.

Session Zoom link sent to those registered as of EOD October 10. LATE REGISTRANTS: Contact if you register on October 11, just to be sure we send you a link. No registrations accepted the day of the event.

CDPI - Understanding your Individual Conflict Dynamics Profile

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Have you felt uncomfortable in conflict? Feel like you want to lash out or avoid the situation altogether? Most people would say yes, and that is absolutely normal. Did you know that not all conflicts lead to destructive outcomes? Instead, many conflicts—when managed well—can lead you and others to growth, innovation, and improvement.

This 90-minute workshop is designed to enhance your personal ability to navigate conflict. You will learn about both helpful and unhelpful behaviors in conflict as well specific “hot buttons” that tend to draw out unhelpful behaviors. This online interactive session provides both in-depth information as well as an interactive debriefing of your CDP survey results.
Registration Deadline Nov. 10.

Two-three weeks before the workshop, you will receive an email invitation to take the Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) survey for free . Complete this 20-25 minute online survey no later than 3 days BEFORE the workshop. (You will receive your digital survey profile report & a Zoom link the morning of the session).

Questions? Email us at

Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue - May 2024

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For next session, ALL virtual workshop activities take place from May 3 - May 31, with pre-work mailed on May 3
>> Synchronous meetings (Zoom) are scheduled from 11am -12:30 pm on May 10, 17,2 4, & 31, 2024.
>> Registration deadline April 22, 2024.
CLICK HERE to REGISTER (not with the button)

A Crucial Conversation is a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong. When conversations turn crucial, people tend to follow one of two ineffective paths: they either speak directly and abrasively to get the results they want but harm relationships, or they remain silent with the hope of preserving relationships only to sacrifice results.

This 12 hour virtual hybrid training builds skills for constructively engaging in conflict —rather than stepping over or around it— turning disagreement into dialogue.

  • Held over 5 weeks, this training consists of 5-6 hours of asynchronous online learning from Crucial Learning paired with Ombuds-facilitated discussion and application activities over four 90-minute Zoom meetings (1 per week) for 12 total PD hours. More about CCMD training content.
  • Materials Cost: $300 online materials access fee per person. Consult with your unit/department/college for funding – this is typically paid via internal transfer through Campus Shared Services.
  • A limited number of materials fee scholarships are available for $100, $150, or $300 if full funding is not available to registrants. Contact for more information.

You are not fully registered for this training until you complete the SEPARATE SPECIAL registration form linked above and here: REGISTER for Crucial Conversations HERE

DL-Creating a Dignity-Conscious Work Environment

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~ Now that you've explored honoring dignity, what next? How can you build your dignity consciousness?
~ How can you support others around you in their efforts to avoid temptations to harm dignity?
~ How can you begin to create a workplace that believes in each person's inherent self-worth?

Based in Donna Hicks' Leading with Dignity: How to create a culture that brings out the best in people (2018), this session will briefly summarize key concepts of dignity* and ask you to share your recent efforts in developing your dignity-consciousness. We will then focus on six strategies for fostering the dignity-consciousness of others in campus settings. Topics include: fostering a growth mindset, modeling vulnerability, activating empathy, cultivating trust, & taking responsibility as a leader. This interactive workshop includes self-reflection, breakout discussion, and action planning activities.

We will use breakout rooms for discussion and practice; access to microphone and camera recommended. Attendance via phone not recommended.

*Highly recommended pre-requisite: Completion of ombuds' DS- Dignity: A Key to Conflict Management workshop, or having read either of Donna Hicks' books on dignity (at least chapters 1-3 of Leading with Dignity)

DS - Dignity: A Key to Effective Conflict Management

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What is Dignity and how does it relate to communication & conflict? We all have an inherent value (dignity) that drives our need to matter and belong. Attending to feelings and experiences of dignity is crucial to building relationships of trust and mutual understanding. Violations of dignity are often the root cause of anger, resentment, mistrust, and destructive conflict.

In this session, you will explore the importance of dignity in workplace relationships; discuss how to honor dignity & avoid violations; and strategize ways to uphold the dignity of yourself and others. This interactive workshop includes self-reflection, breakout discussion, and action planning activities.

o Understand human dignity as an inherent value and vulnerability at the core of how we find a sense of mattering and belonging in a community.
o Examine beliefs and behaviors that honor dignity as well as those that can harm our own dignity and that of others.
o Apply these concepts to university workplace scenarios.
o Create an action plan for increasing dignity-consciousness to your own workplace interactions.

Zoom link has been e-mailed to registrants and is listed below:

Intro to Crucial Conversations: Two Routes to More Effective Workplace Dialogue

Sorry, there are no scheduled times for this workshop. Contact us for more info.

Session link for 11/8/23 @ 1:30 pm is

  • For newcomers: What is a Crucial Conversation? Why are these strategies important? What does intensive mean?
  • Previous attendees: "Wait, there's a second course? How is it different than the first?"
This 30-minute information session will overview two intensive online workshops designed to support engaging in constructive dialogue during challenging situations. Available from the UT Office of Ombuds Services, both courses are a blend of independent asynchronous online material interspersed with multiple synchronous Zoom practice & discussion sessions followed by two follow-up/coaching sessions to support implementation.
  • Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue: (12 hours: four 90-min Zoom sessions & 5-6 hours independent work) Provides a 10-step process for engaging in dialogue when stakes are high, opinions differ, and emotions are high. Particularly addresses how to have conversations that are being avoided.
  • Crucial Conversations for Accountability: (8 hours: three 60-min Zoom sessions & 5 hours independent work) Focuses on conversations around accountability issues, providing strategies for diagnosis and problem-solving in the 6 areas of Influence contributing to accountability gaps. Particularly addresses respectful and compassionate approaches to shifting workplace accountability behaviors.
We will overview elements of each course, discuss requirements and delivery options via the Ombuds certified trainers, and provide information on registration, costs, and scholarship opportunities. :Session will end with an additional 15 minute Q&A to address attendee questions.

The Empowered Workplace: Clearly Communicating Expectations

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Struggling with how to effectively assert your needs, opinions, and boundaries?
Worried you'll sound rude? Or maybe not be firm or clear enough?
Don’t know how to say “this is not OK with me” or feel guilty when you do?

During this virtual session we will:

  • explore a continuum of communication styles
  • Discuss the benefits of assertive communication
  • Examine common barriers to communicating assertively
  • Share specific verbal and non-verbal strategies for communicating clearly, respectfully, and assertively
Our goal is to empower you to honestly communicate what you think, feel, and want in a way that honors dignity and contributes to psychological safety.

We will use breakout rooms for discussion and practice; access to microphone and camera recommended. Attendance via phone not recommended.