Sometimes, students find it difficult to stand up to their friends and explain how they feel. This lesson gives students the space to practise saying how they feel and the confidence to face difficult conversations.

Year level



60 minutes


In class activity

Online learning

SEL Competencies



Social awareness

Relationship skills

Learning intention

Students develop the confidence and skills to have difficult conversations with friends.

Key outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify strategies for having difficult conversations with friends.

Materials needed

  • Access to the article ‘6 steps to help you tackle difficult conversations

  • Slips of paper

  • Open space

  • Butcher’s paper

Mapped to

Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Analyse the impact of changes and transitions, and devise strategies to support themselves and others through these changes (AC9HP8P02)

  • Examine the roles of respect, empathy, power and coercion in developing respectful relationships (AC9HP8P04)

  • Evaluate emotional responses in different situations to refine strategies for managing emotions (AC9HP10P06)

  • Plan, rehearse and evaluate strategies for managing situations where their own or others’ health, safety or wellbeing may be at risk (AC9HP10P08)

Australian Curriculum: General Capabilities

  • Personal and Social Capability:

    • Self-awareness

    • Self-management

    • Social awareness

    • Social management

NSW PDHPE Syllabus

  • Examines and evaluates strategies to manage current and future challenges (PD4-1)

  • Applies and refines interpersonal skills to assist themselves and others to interact respectfully and promote inclusion in a variety of groups or contexts (PD4-10)

  • Analyses factors and strategies that enhance inclusivity, equality and respectful relationships (PD5-3)

  • Critiques their ability to enact interpersonal skills to build and maintain respectful and inclusive relationships in a variety of groups or contexts (PD5-10)

Victorian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

  • Evaluate strategies to manage personal, physical and social changes that occur as they grow older (VCHPEP124)

  • Investigate the benefits of relationships and examine their impact on their own and others’ health and wellbeing (VCHPEP127)

  • Evaluate factors that shape identities, and analyse how individuals impact the identities of others (VCHPEP142)

  • Examine the impact of changes and transitions on relationships (VCHPEP143)

Show details

Activity 1

Brainstorm: How to have difficult conversations

10 minutes

Explain to students that, in certain scenarios, it’s important to have difficult conversations. These conversations might make them feel nervous, uncomfortable and anxious; however, they can help resolve conflicts and help others understand how they are feeling.

  1. Place sheets of butcher’s paper around the room (or virtual equivalent), headed with the following five questions:

    • Who might you have difficult conversations with?

    • What might you have difficult conversations about?

    • When might be a good time to have a difficult conversation?

    • How could the conversation help you?

    • Why is it important to have these conversations?

  2. Separate students into five groups.

  3. Groups spend two minutes at each poster before rotating to the next one. Students write down any thoughts they have in answer to each question.

  4. Once finished, students in the last group read out the answers on their poster.

  5. Discuss any surprising or key ideas with the class.

Activity 2

Discussion: The rules of difficult conversations

10 minutes

  1. Provide students with the article ‘6 steps to help you tackle difficult conversations’.

  2. Discuss each rule with students:

    • Listen Up.

    • Be clear about how you feel and what you want.

    • Look at the issue from their perspective.

    • If things aren't going to plan, take a break.

    • Agree to disagree.

    • Look after yourself.

  3. Ask students if they would have the courage to have a difficult conversation. Discuss their reasons why/why not.

Activity 3

Sentence starters

10 minutes

  1. Hand out slips of paper or virtual equivalent to students.

  2. Ask students to write on each slip sentence starters that could be helpful when having difficult conversations. Examples include:

    • Sometimes I feel…

    • I didn’t like it when…

    • I feel like…

Activity 4

Role play: Difficult conversations

30 minutes

Explain to students that one way to prepare for a difficult conversation is to practise. The following activity requires students to be mature and respectful, as they are going to practise having difficult discussions.

  1. Divide students into groups of three.

  2. Within each group, two students will have a discussion while the third observes to provide feedback. They can rotate these roles.

  3. Provide students with scenarios to practise having conversations with friends. Remind them about the sentence starters if they need help in getting started.

Scenario suggestions (or integrate students’ own ideas):

  • Your friend is gossiping about you.

  • Your friend often criticises you and puts you down.

  • Your friend constantly reminds you of your failures.

  • Your friend tries to manipulate you into skipping class, but you don’t want to.

  • Your friend stresses you out.

  • Your friend ignores or ghosts you.

  • Your friend posts something about you online without your permission.

  • Your friend excludes you in person or in an online social group.

  1. At the conclusion of the activity, ask students:

    • How did you feel having difficult discussions?

    • Did anyone do particularly well?

    • Does anyone feel better prepared to have difficult conversations?


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