Powerful Non-Defensive Communication: Core Programs

The workshops and training programs listed below are based on the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication process outlined in Sharon Strand Ellison's book, Taking the War Out of Our Words. You'll find a summary of each one below. These programs are offered for the public, as well as for for professional and community organizations.

PNDC Workshops & Training Programs

PNDC Introductory Workshop

Level II - Questions Workshop

Level II - Statements Workshop

Level II - Predictions Workshop

Level II - Combined Workshop

Level II - Turning Conflict into Conversation

Advanced - PNDC Trainers' Training Program

Other Complementary Programs Developed by Sharon Strand Ellison

Changing Blueprints, Changing Reality — Foundational Theory for PNDC

SELF - Self-Evaluation Learning Formula — Personality Test Based on PNDC

See Also — The Drop-Down Menu For: Training Topics

In addition, you can go to Workshops and Training in the menu to see more about the work Sharon and other PNDC trainers do with Individuals, Couples, and Parents/Families, as well as Community Organizations and Professionals Organizations in more than a dozen fields.

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ — Introductory Workshop
   ~ A revolutionary Method for Eliminating Defensiveness


Traditional communication methods have consistently fueled pervasive defensivenessleads that leads to destructive power struggles, even with those we love most—as well as creating breakdowns in our effectiveness at work and inhibiting us from solving the gamat of local and global problems we face.

The Powerful Non-Defensive Comunication™ (PNDC) process developed by Sharon Strand Ellison is an alternative model, one which does not rely on defensiveness for self-protection or power struggle to acheive goals. This PNDC process helps us defuse defensiveness and eliminate self-defeating interactions, often instantly— even in high conflict situations. Participants will learn how how to shift to a new paradigm for communication that has a completely non-defensive base. It allows us to use a uniquely powerful blend of vulnerability and honesty in our interactions. In this process we can ask questions, give feedback, state our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and create clear boundaries without evern trying in any way to exert control of the other person. The great "side-effect" is when others aren't prompted to react defensively, they often drop their own defenses and are more open to conversation and even personal change.


1. To give a thorough overview of both the traditional communication system, which is guided by the Rules of War, and the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication system. The overriding purpose is to demonstrate—with crystal clarity—what we have been doing for centuries that is far too often so painfully destructive and what we can do, differently and constructively, with far greater power.

2. To compare and contrast (a) how power is used in each system and (b) the impact each has in our lives.

3. To make the learning process easily accessible with exercises, demonstration role-plays, stories, and audience examples that show, iin real-time, the kind of power the process can have to instantly change interactions and relationships in every environment.

Detailed Training Content:

The remainder of the workshop focuses on learning how to shift to a system of communication where we can communicate non-defensively with far more power, even when we don't have the other person’s cooperation. At the same time, the process often prompts others to drop their defenses instantly, opening the door to the kind of real, honest, respectful conversation that can bring resolution to conflict and transform relationships. 

Part I — The War Model: Using very interactive methods, the first segment of the workshop focuses on gaining a detailed understanding of how traditional communication—in many cultures—has been based on the Rules of War. Thus, we often get defensive quickly when we feel any need to protect ourselves from what others say or do. We'll example the physiology and psychology behind these defensive reactions, which are, in fact, hard-wired. We'll deconstruct exactly how this system so often prompts us to become controlling and manipulative, even when our intentions are “good.” Next, we'll examine 6 typical defensive mode—3 passive and 3 agressive—that people use daily. Then we'll look at why it is so hard to avoide being defensive and to get out of power struggles even when we are motivated to do so. Finally, We'll look at common ways of asking questions, making statements, and giving predictions that literally and systematically create and accelerate conflict.

Part II — The Non-Defensive Model: Starting with a visual, role-play demonstration, we'll look at how to change key elements in order to shift from the ways we use power in the old model and in the non-defensive model. Next, using discussion, group exercises and role-playing, we'll walk through the steps for changing four core elements in our communication: (1) intention, (2) voice tone, (3) body language, and (4) phrasing. Building on this work, we'll then discuss and practice what Sharon considers to be our three basic forms of communication: Questions, Statements, & Predictions (commonly referred to as" limit setting" or "creating boundaries"). The skills learned are not a "script," but a process that can be used in real, spontaneous communication. For more detailed information about the three forms of communication, you can scroll down and review the content for the more in-depth follow-up sessions on questions, statements and predictions.

Questions: We'll start by practicing how to ask questions, using an entirely different tone of voice and body langauge than is commonly used. Then we'll discuss and practice 3 of the formats for asking questions that can disarm defensiveness and get at the heart of an issue quickly. The amount of practice-time will depend on the length of the session. In this introductory workshop, questions will get the most time. First, because it is the most difficult shift initially, for many people. Second, because the changes in intention, tone, body language and phrasing create a foundation for similar changes when making statements and predictions.

Statements: We'll examine and do some intitial practice with 3 steps for giving feedback so that instead of feeling judged, other children, teens, and adults are more likely to feel respected and want to listen. We'll also discuss and practice how to express our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs without needing to "convince" others to agree. Thus, instead of making them feel alienated, we can create greater understanding, even across significant lines of difference. It is not a "passive,"process it allows us to speak very dynamically, even passtionaltely, and with enhanced clarity. We'll work with statements for about half of the time we work with questions, while still incorporating group experience with the process.

Predictions: We'll also do a brief study and practice how to create boundaries that create reciporicty and mutual respect. This portion involves a two-step process for outlines choices and consequences, that prompts others to often make more constructive choices, as well as becoming more competent and reciprocal. We'll spend the least amount of time on the predictions. While how we use authority and create boundaries is a huge topic, in the context of the introductory workshop, because the two-step process is more structure, it is also the easiest to present and demonstrate how it builds on the questions and the statements.

Summary of Teaching Methods: Presentation of concepts and skills, story, discussion, role-playing and mat work (volunteers only), as well as practice exercises in pairs and/or small groups.

Length of Training: All key concepts and skill sets can be presented in trainings of various lengths. Longer trainings offer more work with the concepts and more opportunity for practice . At the same time even a short training will give people both new persepctives and new skills sets that can be used immediately.

For more information about trainings of various lengthes, see: Content by Length of Presentation

For more information re: Workshop Content, See: What is PNDC? and Sample Agendas

Below ~ In-Depth Trainings On Each Of:
The Three Non-Defensive Forms of Communication:

The three training programs below are a more in-depth study and experiental practice of the three basic forms of non-defensive communication:

(1) Questions: including more than a dozen formats for asking questions that get quickly at the heart of an issue and methods of expression that invite openess

(2) Statements: (a) giving feedback to others & (b) expressing our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs

(3) Predictions: including two formats for creating clear boundaries

Common Question: What if I haven't taken the PNDC Introductory Training? Can I still take the Questions Statements, and/or Predictions Workshop(s)?

Answer: Yes. The questions, statements & predictions training programs do go into more depth with regard to each of those skill sets than the introductory workshop, they are very experiental and can stand alone. While it does give a stronger foundation to have taken the intro previously, it is fairly common, due to timing issues or other circumstances, for people to take the questions training first. If you are taking questions training first, we do recommend at least listening to the single CD, PNDC Principes and Practices, and/or reading the book, Taking the War Out of Our Words, before taking the course. It would also be very valuable to go take the introductory training later.

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication
   ~ Non-Defensive Questions: Getting at the Heart of an Issue


Commonly, when many, or even most of us ask questions, we just think of it as "a question." We do not identify it as a certain "type" of question that may be designed to get one kind of information or another. In many respects, we just go for what we want to know or what fits out agenda. Conversly, asking questions can be a wildy powerful art. In this workshop/training—which requires a minimum of one six-hour-day—we'll discuss and practice more than a dozen formats for asking questions that can instantly defuse defensive reactions and utterly transform the conversation that follows.


1. To discuss and begin to internalize each one of more than a dozen formats for asking questions about both the content and the process in any discussion.

2. To make the primary focus of the training experiential, with practice in pairs or small groups of all the key formats for questions.

Detailed Training Content:

Setting Up the Practice: We'll go through more than 12 formats for asking questions, one-by-one. The first step will be a brief description of (a) how the form works and (b) what it's purpose is—that is, what kind of information it draws out, and (c) look at one or two examples as examples.

Examples of Common Underlying Themes: There are many common themes, of course. A few examples of such reocurring issues are when a person (a) is unwilling to listen, (b) avoids responsibility, (c) has double standards, (d) tends to bully or attack others (e) is being controlling or manipulative, (f) sees her/himself as “always right” (g) has an attitude of superiority, and/or(h) sees her/himself always as the victim and blames others for her/his own behavior.

Examples of Formats for Questions: Inverting key statements into questions—Asking about contractions in what a person says that uncover valuable information—Drawing out hidden assumptions—Asking directly about a person’s intention & motivation—Identifying key values, emotions, and reasoning attached to a persons position—Asking questions that enhance the person’s ability to compare and contrast various options—Using questions that give a family member, friend, co-worker, or client the opportunity to safely identify places where reactions such as judgment, fear, or vindictiveness block the process—and more.

Doing the Practice: After answering any questions, the second step will be to practice that form in pairs and/or small groups. Participants can use their own personal or professional examples to practice with. There are also sample situations in case anyone would prefer to use them. Participants will brainstorm questions that are specific to the format. This can be harder than it seems, as people tend to automatically gravitate toward questions that fit what they want to know, or their own agenda and are not in keeping with the guidelines for the forma. The process helps to strengthen participants focus on picking and chosing between a very different kinds of questions and thus craft them to go more quickly and deeply into the core of an issue.

Debriefing the Practice: After practing a particular format, we will debrief, using some of the situations people worked with and evaluate what made certain questions weaker or stronger and brainstorm a few more possibilities to hone the questions. Then we take the next form of question and start again.

Skills Gained & Benefits: Participants will learn to distinguish between when to ask open-ended questions and when there may be greater value in asking quesstions that are not open ended. The non-defensive process allows people to ask very direct questions without judgment, prompting family, friends, clients and colleagues to have more courage to be open to genuine dialogue.

Internalizing these formats makes it much easier find a genuine, curious question to ask as an alternative to a defensive response. Doing so keeps us strong and actually makes that "hard-wired" need for defensive protection become less predominant overall. And in any single interation, the need to defensive protection can vanish completely Internalize the structure of these formats also helps people become much more relaxed and spontaneous in thinking of and asking access the question(s) great questions get to the core quickly.

These formats for asking question can not only take us to much greater depth of understanding, they can give us opportunties to uncover our own misunderstandings, assumptions, judgments and biases. Using non-defensive questions can speed up our personal growth and wisdom. At the same time, it can prompt others to respond with openness and sincerity, as well as simultaneously holding them more accountable for their own reactions.

Length of Training: The standard workshop is two days. It can offered as a one-day training, but cannot be further condensed and still accomplish the goal of presenting and practicing all the formats for statements.

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication
   ~Non-Defensive Statements: Honesty Without Judgment

       Including: (1) Giving Feedback to Others & (2) Expressing Our Own Thoughts,                         Feelings, and Beliefs


Being able to state opinions clearly and strongly is a key factor in our success in any conversation, and absolutely crucial when it involves problem solving and/or conflict. Traditionally, statements are made with the intention to prove a point or convince others to agree. In fact, the phrase, "The art of persuasion," highlights the idea that being able to convince others to agree with us is a positive goal. The problem is that when we try to convince others of anything, we are attempting "get" the other person to change something, or do something, even perhaps just to listen to us. The most likely outcome is that we will prompt the other person to become resistance and cause polarization, even alienation. The process of convincing others to agree also reinforces a system of interaction based on the premise of one person being "right" and the other "wrong" or, one person "winning" and the other person "losing." It is a recipe for conflict. Unfortunately, even those of us who don't subscribe to this philosophy often still have it ingrained in our psyche and can unconsciousl still interact in ways that involve trying to get others to change in some way.

Participants in this training program will learn a set of skills involving four steps for giving honest feedback and expressing ourselves with clarity, but without in any way trying to influence or change the other person's attitudes, beliefs, opinions, or behavior. Ironically, when we don't try to get others to change or even to listen, we can have far more influence rather than less.


1. To give feedback to others that serves to functions: (1) to let the person know how we understand what they have said and their "position" with regard to the topic under discussion. (2) to share our own observations and feedback about the whatever combinations of feelings, beliefs, and reasoning the person has expressed.

2. To give feedback in a way that shares our insights and position while honoring being respectful of the other person's humanity regardless of how strongly we may disagree with the person

3. To express our own thoughts feelings and beliefs in response to the what we understand to be the person's position in a way that is heartful and strong without crossing the line and trying to convince others to agree.

4. To let the power of our statement be inspirational rather than coersive by simply letting it stand alone and giving the other person an opportunity to consider what we said or not, as they chose

Detailed Training Content:

A Four Step Process for Making Statments: In this training program we’ll first work with the concepts underlying each of four steps or formats for making statements. The first three involve how to give feedback that is honest yet respectful; the fourth one is for expressing our own reasoning, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors.

Pitfalls that Create Misunderstanding and/or Make Statements Adversarial: First we'll do some in-depth, experiential work with common problems in all four steps/formats:

1. 3 common problems when using acitive listening that undermine the effectiveness of the process

2. Attitudes and behaviors that make giving feedback become adversarial and leave the person who receives the feedback

3. The tendancy to convey our conclusions and assumptions as judgment or blame, and unpacking the reasons why, and

4. Common problems when using "I messages" that can undermine honesty and convey passive aggressive messages

Making Statements with Non-Defensive Clarity, Power, and Compassion: The non-defensive process for making statements involves a process that has descriptive clarity and carries it's own power without any attempts to convince to think, feel, believe or do anything differently.

A. Feedback to the Other Person: The first three steps, involving giving feedback are like holding up a mirror for the person that shows her/him what we see in what they've said, as well as any other observations and asuumption we have about their "position" with regard to any issue. These steps include:

Step 1: How we are interpreting what the other person is saying (sans the common pitfalls)

Step 2: Naming any contradictions we see, including (a) in what the person is saying, (b) between what the person says and our past experience with her/him, and/or (c) other outside information we have, and

Step 3: Stating our conclusions or assumption about the meaning of the contraction and/or what we think the person's intention or the underlying reason for the contradiction.

B. Step 4: Our Reactions—An expresson of our own feelings, beliefs, & reasoning: Then, in the fourth step we express our reactions—our own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. We can do this with full integrity, even passion, but it is done subjectively, with no point proving. It allows the other person to have an opportunity to reflect and then affirm, deny, or qualify their own position. We may find agreement where we thought there was disagreement, or conflicting views where we thought there was agreement, or we may get confirmation of our assumptions or new and surprising information. Essentially is it an open, transparent process that has more power to build understanding as well as a offering a process for constructive confrontation when needed

An Alternative: We'll also work with how to incorporate these four steps into a chronological "story" that includes all the same key pieces. In addition we'll work with some simple ways to rememer the process.

Practice & Debriefing: Much of the workshop/training program will focus on using these concepts while practicing. Participants will have an opportunity to work with their own examples. As we practice, we'll focus on monitoring and becoming in tune with knowing when judgment or convincing starts to leak into a statement. We'll work to hone skills in giving feedback and expressing ourselves with clarity and honesty while honoring the other person's humanity, treating each person as an equal. The key is to be able to do this in a way that is real and genuine, not surface.

The goal in the non-defensive process is to give and recieve information to gain understanding so we can decide how we want to respond, including what limits we might decide we need to set. Nowhere in this process do we try to get the other person to change. It is purely descriptive. It is done without judgment or any need to contro lor in any overt or covert way influence how the other person responds. In the process healthier, more vibrant relationships can be forged, in every environment.

Length of Training: The standard workshop is two days. It can offered as a one-day training, but cannot be further condensed and still accomplish the goal of presenting and practicing all the formats for statements.

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication
Non-Defensive Predictions: Fostering Competence & Reciprocity


Most of us have a lot of “authority” issues, ranging from how we use our own personal authority to how we respond to the authority wielded by others. While the act of setting limits can be described easily in an introductory workshop, and people can get a foundation for the skills base, an enormous amount of skil is required to set effective limits on an onging basis at work, at home, with friends, in community organizations, and even sometimes with a clerk in the grocery story. In this workshop, we’ll investigate our own attitudes about authority and learn highly effective methods of limit-setting. Learning to set non-punitive consequences in every kind of relationship is essential to our health.


1. To understand four common misuses of authority that are pervasive and have participants do a self evaluation process to determine which ones they predominently use.

2. To gain understanding of how and why so many of us are resistant to to setting clear boundaries and to work through the resistance.

3. To focus on learning and/or enhancing the ability to create firm boundaries with a nurturing attitude.

4. To understand the dynamics of how to (a) make effective predictions regarding choice and consequence and (b) to work with the steps in successfully implementing consequences

The Difficulties & The Importance of Having Clear Boundaries in Various Types of Relationship:

Parent-Child: If you are a parent, this workshop is vital. Parents often love their children so much they get confused about how to set clear limits. As a parent you may lean toward being permissive or authoritarian, or fluctuate back and forth. You and your partner/spouse may be at opposite ends of the continuum. This workshop can help you get balance and clarity, even if you have a partner who doesn’t participate. With good limits, children and teens can are happier and more responsive, often becoming highly competent and respectful.

Couples: Because couples often do not set effective limits with each other, they put up with unpleasant habits and behavior for years. They argue and “nag” each other, contaminating love with resentment. As a result, many relationships become both co-dependent and polarized. This workshop can help you to set clear boundaries that enhance both independence and intimacy in the relationship.

Professional: In professional relationships, people also have a great deal of difficulty knowing how to set clear boundaries and are often afraid of “repercussions” if they do so. This impacts both peer relationships and team performance in getting projects done. Managers also have difficulty creating effective expectations and consequences. Learning effective limit-setting can enhance individual satisfaction, group performance and management skills.  

Detailed Training Content:

The Authority Continuum: We'll start by doing an exercise that will let participants evaluation where they stand with regard to 4 postions on the authority continuum that are rooted in the War Model and an ineffective use of authority. Then we'll look at a non-defensive model for setting limits in a completely non-threatening, non-punitive way that still has great clarity and firmness.

Moving Past Our Resistence to Creating Clear Boundaries: We'll look at and discuss the range of reasons why people have so much difficulty in creating clear boundaries. Then we'll do some work to bring the behavior of setting boundaries together with a nurturing attitude, a recipe for success.

The Phrasing for Predictions that create boundaries: People often think they are setting limits when, in fact that are simply making a statement, such as: "This has to stop." "I'm not putting up with this anymore." "I expect you get your part of the project in on time." "I want you to do your homework NOW." The emphais shown in bold and italics on the last statement represents how we often use a sentence and then give emphatic emphasis to the words to give it strength, make our "boundary" clear.

The problem is that creating a boundary requires defining where the line is and what is on both side of it, like mapping out a piece of property and letting someone know what the consequences are if they cross the line, When setting limits in our human relationships, we must also let people know what will happen if they do or if they don't cross certain lines. In order to do that, we must (1a) name one possible choice and (1b) the consequence of that choice and then (2a) name an alternate choice and (2b) the consequence of that choice We'll look at how to maintain consistent phrasing and tone in outlining the choices and consequences.

Key Issues When Succesfully setting clear Boundaries: We'll look at 11 issues that are significant when creating boundaries and selecting consequences and 6 issues that are crucial to successful implimentation of the consequences.

Practice: Participants will have a great deal of opportunity to work on various limit-setting scenarios, including those involving personal or professional situations of their own. We'll do a combination of small and large group practice, as well as debriefing examples to better hone skills.

Length of Training: The standard workshop is two days. It can offered as a one-day training, but cannot be further condensed and still accomplish the goal of presenting and practicing the formats for predictions.

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication — Combined Level 2

In the basic workshop, you'll have learned about making a transition from a War Model for communication to a non-defensive model. In the PNDC Combined Level II workshop, you can take your understanding to a deeper level and hone your skills using Questions, Statements, and Predictions. You can move from "How do I figure out what question to ask?" to "Let's see, which question should I ask first? Which one will take me most quickly to the heart of this issue?" You can get so familiar with the steps in the non-defensive statement that it becomes more automatic and old habits of withdrawal or argument begin to disappear. You can also eliminate inhibitions about setting effective boundaries at home and at work.

This workshop can be done with two different formats. First, it can be done as an experiential workshop, where we simply practice all three steps, using examples from participants and then debriefing them. As we go along, we work with questions about the concepts behind the practice as they come up. For example, people often look more deeply into how non-defensive communication changes how we use power in our interactions with each other, as a natural part of the practice.

Length of Training: The standard workshop is two days. It can offered as a one-day training, and could be done as a follow-up half-day practice session, which would be valuable but not achieve the same depth of integration. change this.

Turning Conflict into Conversation

Most people have had the experience of not speaking up about an issue for fear of making an existing conflict worse, or even starting a conflict. Out problem-solving skills have been stunted by using defensiveness as our primary protective mechanism, because our ability to resolve conflict disappears when we're defensive. It's a great catch-22. As people learn non-defenesive communication skills, they may still find it hard to imagine dealing with conflicts in a productive conversational way —intense perhaps, but not the kind of overwhelming, destructive process that conflict so often becomes.

In this workshop, participants will have an opportunity to identify unresolved issues they have with various people and pick one to work on. The conflicts selected by each person may vary significantly, with some being relatively small and others more serious. Next, using the workbook to provide a structure, each person will have an opportunity to go through a step-by-step process for identifying key aspects of the history and content of the issue and then outline an approach to resolving the conflict using non-defensive skill sets learned in the PNDC Introductory Workshop.

Participants will have opportunities to work alone, in pairs, and in their larger group, if desired. Individual feedback and group discussion will be used to reinforce the skills learned. People will go home with not only a better understanding of how to apply non-defensive questions, statements, and predictions to a specific conflict, but also how to approach conflict with more confidence that it can be an opportunity for meaningful conversation.

Prerequisite: PNDC Introductory Workshop

Length of Training: This workshop is offered only as a two-day workshop and is limited to 16 participants.

PNDC Trainers' Training Programs

We offer Trainers' Training Programs for people who would like to learn to teach Powerful Non-Defensive Communication. Often, these potential trainers reveal a wide range of interests in teaching the process:

—Independent consutants and members of consulting firms.

—Individuals who would like to do in-house training for their own organization.

—People who would like to offer training programs in the context of their work for members of their profession and/or clients served. For example, a therapist might wish to offer programs for other therapists or for families. Family law attorneys or mediators might wish to offer programs for professionals who do alternative dispute resolution.

—Teachers might wish to teach the skills.

—People who wish to teach the skills in college or university settings.

—People who want to teach the skills so they can more easily share those skills in "small bites" in their ongoing work with children or clients.

—People who like to learn by learning, who wish to teach the material as a way to more deeply internalize the skills.

The process will include participants learning effective teaching methods, such as how to integrate the use of story, presentation of concepts, role-playing, mat work, feedback to hone skills, small-group practice and larger-group discussion (including how to respond to any group members who disrupt the process and/or otherwise undermine group cohesiveness). Participants will also practice teaching all of the skills sets.

Prerequisite: PNDC Introductory and Level II Workshops

Changing Blueprints — Changing Reality

with Sharon Strand Ellison

The book, Taking the War Our of Our Words, was only part of my original manuscript. The first part of that manuscript, which I intend to publish in the relatively near future, contained the material I teach in this workshop. Because the book has not been published yet and I have not offered any trainers' training programs for this material, I am the only person in the PNDC Consortuim of Trainers who teaches this workshop.

In this workshop, I show how we create the "reality" of our human relationships in essentially the same way we create the "reality" of a loaf of bread. I believe that we create these blueprints first, and foremost, for our own personal reality, and then, beyond that, we create group blueprints—for couples, families, work teams, organizations, and any group that has an "identity" as a sub-culture. Much of what we now call the "culture" of an organization is based on that organization's system of "blueprints" for how it functions. We also create blueprints for larger groups, for religions, races, and nations, as well as for humanity at a global level. In fact, the entire War Model for communication that I outline in my book is actually a "global blueprint" that I believe has been adopted by most of humanity, with devestating consequences. Thus, while this workshop is not focused on using non-defensive skills, it is a foundational piece of that work.

During the workshop, I demonstrate how we create reality in our human relationships by creating a kind of "blueprint" or map of reality for each experience we have in life — love, success, exercise, respect, freedom, even rain. Using a step-by-step process, I show how we develop these blueprints at a very early age. I demonstrate exactly how they they can give form to long-term, self-defeating patterns in our lives that have no-win choices built into them.

Each person then has an opportunity to work on a significant childhood blueprint that influences her/his life. This workshop can help you understand yourself at a core level, so you can be much more proactive and successful in changing your life in meaningful ways. The blueprint becomes a map for how you can change core elements in what you believe, feel, think, and do, and make dramatic alterations in how you experience life.

In addition, you will learn how to listen to others at a whole new level, by identifying the structure of the person's map of reality, by listening for the "blueprint" in the words used in the "story-line" of what the person is saying. You can achieve greater understanding across lines of difference, such as personality, gender, race, and age. Often when I ask questions, people who are new to the non-defensive process ask me, "How did you come up with that question?" After taking a Blueprints workshop, they say, "Now I know how you think of those questions." Understanding our own blueprints gives us a whole new world of options for living empowered, compassionate ives.

A Variation: I offer this workshop primarily to the public, as many people in organizations would prefer not to participate with co-workers in a workshop that deals so much with their own lives. There are, however, people who work closely together who do choose to participate as a group. Therefore, I offer an alternative, which is to present the process for determining blueprints using examples I select. Then I teach people how to listen to others in a way that opens up greater understanding of what others mean by what they are saying in any given conversation.

Prerequisite: None

Length of Training: This workshop is offered only as a two-day workshop and is limited to 12 participants.

SELF — The Self-Evaluation Learning Formula

created by Sharon Strand Ellison

In many self-measurement systems, people answer questions that force choices that ultimately put them in one category or another, defining what is often referred to as the person’s “style” of interaction. While the goals are to help people understand their own basic patterns and those of others better—too often people take the "style label" to heart and see the charactistics that showed up strongest in the test as their inherent nature. A classic example would be when one person says, “I’m analytical” and the other says, “I’m emotional." The label can becomes a reason to justify one's behavior rather than working to achieve greater balance.

The self-measurement forms can also be misleading, because the person who is identified as analytical may not have stronger analytical skills than the person who is identified as emotional. In fact, the person identified as emotional may have stronger analytical skills. The analytical person may simply pick choices on the test by preference for analysis over emotional responsiveness. Likewise the emotional person may simply choose emotional responses over analytical ones in various circumstances presented in the test. Thus, people can function at very high levels of competency in areas that don't show up as their "style."

I have created SELF — a Self-Evaluation Learning Formula that gives each person a picture of the system of interactions between their various defensive and non-defensive attitudes and behaviors. SELF measures the strengths and weakness of many characteristics so that key patterns emerge. It works well with the Changing Blueprints, Changing Reality material because, essentially, it provides information that makes those blueprints clearer. For example, in one moment we may label someone a “demanding “person.” In another, we may label that same man or woman as a very “compassionate person.” Is only one of the labels true? If both are true, how do being "compassionate" and "demanding" interact in this person’s relationship patterns?

You will have a picture with many colors, in a sense a moving picture. All the information is about characteristics and patterns that can be changed—eliminated or strengthened—in ways that build your character and integrity. Using it you will have a blueprint and a guide for empowering self-change.

Prerequisite: None

Applications: The Self-Evaluation Learning Formula is offered as a public workshop for individuals and couples. It is also possible for families to do the evaluation process together. It is available to professional and community organizations for the purpose of having groups use the system to look at their strengths and weaknesses as a team or collective. Offering much of the value of other popular systems of evaluation, SELF gives greater opportunity for taking individual and group functioning to a higher level.

Length of Training: As a public workshop, SELF is offered only as a two-day workshop, where participants will work with the measurements and then look at how they want to use the information to make changes in their own lives. As a measurement tool for organizations, the amount of time committed to using the tool, and the depth to which is is used, will vary greatly according to agreement.

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Powerful Non-Defensive Communication is a trademarked name. © 1994-2017 Sharon Strand Ellison

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"Aristotle’s model for communication has been taught in Western culture as the art of winning arguments. Powerful Non-Defensive Communication replaces this traditional model with one that gives each person the ability to communicate effectively without engaging in power struggle."

Dr. Martin Jacobi, Department Chair, English Department, Clemson University

"Sharon captivates her audience with her honesty and fresh perspectives."

"Her presentation was well received by the more knowledgeable group members, and by those who usually criticize and challenge speakers."

"I cannot imagine any other investment that would pay such high returns."

—Organizers' Comments





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