Sharon Strand Ellison

Sharon Strand Ellison, the author of Taking the War Out of Our Words, is a pioneer in the field of eliminating defensiveness. An international communication consultant and award-winning speaker, Sharon is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Powerful Non-Defensive Communication. She has been a Scholar in Residence at Saint John's University and was a nominee for the Leadership for a Changing World Award, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Advocacy Institute. She and her daughter, Ami Atkinson, produced the audiobook, Taking Power Struggle Out of Parenting, winner of a Benjamin Franklin Award.

The creator of the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication process, Sharon is dedicated to the belief that learning to communicate with non-defensive power is a crucial key to our capacity for solving the majority of problems we face at every level — home, work, and community. She brings her cutting-edge theory together with a remarkable ability for demonstrating practical, realistic, life-changing skills. A gifted storyteller, Sharon offers keynotes as well as workshops and other training programs. Her ability to role-play further enhances her clarity and enlivens her presentations. Sharon inspires audiences by modeling what she teaches with honesty, humor, and integrity.

In her keynotes and workshops, Sharon shows how for centuries, across lines of race, class, and culture, we've used the "rules of war" as the infrastructure for verbal interactions. Utilizing the work of scientists like Dr. Joseph Le Deux, she demonstrates how this traditional model of communication prompts us — at a physiological level — to have instant defensive responses to the slightest provocation. Thus, quite pervasively, we are interacting in ways that systemically create and accelerate conflict, even with those we love most. This traditional model of communication not only has a profound effect on our personal relationships, it also fosters countless power struggles in professional realms. Beyond that, it creates seemingly insurmountable levels of alienation among diverse groups of people and blocks our ability to resolve the most imperative issues we face in our local and global communities. Sharon articulates in illuminating detail how this system of communication works.

Building on this foundation, Sharon suggests that if we think of this traditional model for communication as a computer program, then instead of continuing to use an outdated model, we can just get rid of it and get a new model. Unfortunately, newer approaches to communication are often still "rooted" in the old model and can inadvertently prompt defensiveness. The model Sharon offers is built entirely on non-defensive methods of communication, where each person can speak with clarity, power and compassion without being dependent on others for cooperation. Because the process does not require trying to control or manipulate others into responding in certain ways, it frees us from power struggle. As a result, others often instantly drop their own defenses. Using these skills, we can see a different side of human nature and create a different reality.

In addition to speaking at conferences, Sharon provides training for organizations in more than a dozen professional fields. She applies the non-defensive skills she teaches to any issue or topic, such as team building, management skills, and cultural competence.

Sharon's particular gift for analysis also makes her adept at recognizing systemic patterns of communication in both professional and personal settings. In professional environments, she can identify patterns that damage working relationships and inhibit productivity within a team, and/or an organization as a whole. She can pinpoint crucial issues and provide clear, direct feedback essential for changing the culture of the organization. Likewise, Sharon can identify key systems functioning within families, couple relationships, and individuals, giving people the skills needed to create healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Because Sharon is committed to sharing the theory and practical skill sets she has developed for non-defensive communication, this website presents a great deal of information offering people an opportunity to gain insight into the process and see examples of how it works. She also has a free newsletter with PNDC Stories and Tips. Sharon is dedicated to enhancing performance, creating leadership with integrity, and building community in every environment.

Partial Client List:

Sharon provides public workshops as well as training for organizations in more than a dozen professional fields. Her clients include Hewlett Packard, Nordstrom, Stanford University, Lockheed Martin, Kaiser Permanente, the United States Department of Justice, Wells Fargo, the Internal Revenue Service, Shell Oil, UCSF Medical School, UC Berkeley, and the Center for Dispute Resolution in London, England. She has been an invited guest speaker at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. She also does presentations for many associations, including the Law Societies of Canada, the Association of Conflict Resolution, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and the Association of Human Resource Managers. In addition, Sharon speaks for organizations and conferences focused on seeking to create constructive social change. She has been a keynote speaker for the “The Women’s Global Health Imperative” and the “Conference on the Human Capacity for Peace.”

For more information about Sharon's clients, go to: Client ListConference List

Words Participants Have Used to Describe Sharon's Presentations and the Impact on Their Lives:

Opportunity — Unique — Untapped  — Power — Emerging — Innovative — Relevant — Practical — Challenging — Elegant — Focused — Masterful — Tour de Force — Impact — Profound — Magnitude — Transformed — Free — Amazed — Incredible — Dynamic — Shift — Spontaneously — Open — Change — Immediate — Effortless — Quick — Centered  — Disarming — Accessible — Effectiveness — Enlightening — Remarkable — Available — Accountable — Enriching — Calmer — Humility — Tremendous — Thrilled — Options — Systematic — Productive — Gratifying — Integrating — Awareness — Energy — Clarity — Passion — Commitment — Authenticity — Integrity — Courage — Compassion — Peace — Success — Balance — Empowering — Outstanding — Involved  — Genuine — Safe — Tender – Absorbing — Fascinating — Congruent — Brilliant — Magical — Invaluable —Enormous — Excitement — Unlimited Potential — Incredulous — Powerful — Evolution — Breathtaking — Extraordinary — Vision — Hope  — Simplicity — Heart

For comments about Sharon as a speaker and the quality of her training programs, go to:

Professional Client CommentsPersonal Client Comments

Conference Planner CommentsConference Attendee Comments

For information on Sharon's Keynotes, Pre-Conference Workshops & Breakout Sessions, go to:


For more information about the relevance of the skills Sharon teaches to different populations of people, you can go to links below.

Personal: Individuals CouplesFamilies

Professional: Small Business & Corporate Consulting Firms Education: K-12 Education: Community CollegeEducation: University Finance Government Healthcare Law Collaborative Family Law Mediation Nonprofit Mental Health Women's Organizations

Community Organizations: Community Service Organizations Social Change Organizations Spiritual Communities

For more background information about Sharon and how she developed the Powerul Non-Defensive Communication Process, go to: Taking the War Out of Our Words: Book Introduction

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Powerful Non-Defensive Communication is a trademarked name. © 1994-2016 Sharon Strand Ellison

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