PNDC Workshop: Issue-Focused Practice Session

Why Do We Give Negative People so Much Power?
Facilitator: Sharon Strand Ellison

Thursday, November 03, 2016 ~ 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
~ 3 Hr. Program —with extended time for those who want to ask more questions.


WORKSHOP ~ Oakland, CA - Place TBA ~ Track 3 Issue-Focused Practice Session

~ Includes a PDF and download of Sharon's article, New Roots for Language.


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PNDC Newsletter on Giving Power to People with Negative Attitudes
See Below for Overview of the Practice Session & Learning Methods

I often ask audiences, “If you were at a table with ten people, and nine were very cooperative and one person was negative and uncooperative, who would have the most power?

What answer came to your mind just now?

The prevailing answer—even with audiences who have extensive training in conflict resolution skills—is, without exception, the “negative” person. Many times people instantly smile or laugh, as if it should be completely obvious that the negative person has the most power.

At no time, have I ever said that the single person in the room with the negative attitude has any kind of formal or informal authority in the group. Nor have I said they have to have 100% agreement on anything. So what makes so many of us assume that that person has more power than nine other people who have positive, cooperative attitudes? Can they not make a decision or go forward with their plans without the approval of that one single person?

The happiest people I see are those who are warm, compassionate, and generous. Such positive forms of energy have the power to bring us healing, connection, and joy, building self-esteem and strong relationships. I think it’s time to stop giving over our positive power to those who want to undermine it.

Undermine defined: To weaken or ruin by degrees.

In both the webinar and the workshop on “Why Do We Give Negative People so much Power?” We’ll look at the answers to this question and practice skills for responding to people who have a negative impact in a wide range of ways—from simply being sullen or a naysayer, to being harsh, angry, blaming, judgmental, prejudiced, argumentative and/or divisive.

The skills are effective in changing the outcome regardless of whether or not others shift their attitude. 

My mother always said, “I can’t change circumstance and I can’t change the other person, but I might be surprised at what happens if I change me.”

Why Do We Give "Negative People" So Much Power?
~ It's Time to Stop!

~ A Vital Personal & Professional Growth-Issue
Even for Many of Us Who Feel Self-Empowered

We tend to give people who act cold, manipulative, hostile, withholding, and/or blaming the power to control our own mood, or even the mood of a whole group of people. Without being sure about how to deal with the reactions of a negative person, individuals and/or whole groups can allow that person to throw the proverbial wet blanket on everything from a family dinner conversation to creative brainstorming on a work team or even just having fun at a party with friends. In addition, when people act as bullies and/or express prejudice openly toward specific individuals and/or groups it also creates a more seriously toxic environment, along with the danger of violence.

In our practice session, we'll look at how and why we have given so much power to such people — whether they are in positions of power or even perhaps a "weak link" in the group or community. Then we'll practice using non-defensive methods to diminish or even eliminate their demoralizing and divisive impact in one-to-one relationships, and in families, work settings, and communities. Some people will continue to be negative, but simply not have the same kind of power because others have know defuse the impact of the kind of destructive power the person is using. Others will shift their attitude and become more positive.

More About Issue-Focused PNDC Practice Sessions:

Practice sessions are experiential and give people the opportunity to work with how to apply the skills to very specific issues that many of us often struggle with. We may be struggling within our own issues, such as: (a) self-defeating internal scripts, (b) how to stop feeling intimidated by others, or (c) our tendency to be reactive and defensive. The issues may also involve our relationships with others, such as: (a) feeling caught in the middle of a conflict between two or more other people, (b) interacting with someone who refuses to take accountability, (c) dealing regularly with incivility, downright rudeness, or bullying.

These issues are often experienced as individual "incidents" and thus frequently dismissed as not worth dealing with, but such "microinequities" i.e. "small insults that do harm" have a huge impact on our relationships.Or they can be highly significant issues that result in abuse and injustice. Applying PNDC skills to at either end of the continuum enhances the potential for responding with great effectiveness and integrity.

Learning Methods:

We'll use a range of methods for learning, including presentation of concepts and skills, discussion, story telling, mat work, analaysis of how to shift the power dynamics in actual situations, and practice, including role-playing, group exercises and mapping out conversations.

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