Eight Training Tracks: The Reciprocity Principle & PNDC

Find Your Path . . . Many people send us remarkable stories after a short exposure to this non-defensive communication process. At the same time, to deeply internalize the mind- heart- and skill-sets requires focus over time—like any physical, mental or spiritual discipline. Our 8 training programs focus on two basic themes: (1) using The Reciprocity Principle to identify and alter underlying beliefs that block us from fully achieving our potential; and (2) learning Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ skills as an avenue to greater personal and professional strength, built on a foundation of honesty, compassion, and integrity. Each of these systems, created by Sharon Strand Ellison, involve changes in both our attitudes and our behaviors. Programs range from two hours to full-length workshops and retreats. You can chose to fit your learning style.

A Message from Sharon:

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We speak at conferences & provide training directly for professional and community organizations. Below is (a) a of the 8 training tracks we've developed, (b) an overview of each, and (c) a link to more detailed information.

If you'd like to track courses you have taken, you can print out our Course Track List

Track 1 — Core Beliefs that Shape Our Life Experiences
We'll focus is on two world views: the Power Struggle Paradigm and the Reciprocity Paradigm. We'll compare and contrast their impact on 11 common human experiences. — Go to Program Overview

Track 2 — Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ Skill Building
First, we'll look at a detailed picture of how our communication methods have based on the Power Struggle Paradigm and are so ingrained that we unconsciously prompt each others defenses regularly. Second, the major focus is on learning non-defensive communication methods that have the power to defuse defensiveness, often instantly, even in high conflict situations. — Go to Program Overview

Track 3 — Issue-Focused Sessions
The sessions focus on changes that enhance our effectiveness in responding to commonly faced, difficult issues in personal and professional relationships. The practice examples show how to eliminate core destructive beliefs while strengthening non-defensive communicate skills. — Go to Program Overview

Track 4 — Practice Groups for Personal & Professional Growth
People who want to some sustained practice in applying non-defensive skills to their own lives can attend monthly sessions for a minimum of 3-6 months. Some have a specific focus. — Go to Program Overview

Track 5 — Coaching & Executive Consulting
PNDC Trainers can to provide phone, webinar, or live coaching sessions for personal and professional development. We can also provide coaching for groups, such as teams. — Go to Program Overview

Track 6 — Personal & Professional Growth Inventories
Personality and leadership inventories are available for use in group or individual sessions. Each provides a "map" for systemic change that enhances character and effectiveness. — Go to Program Overview

Track 7 — Changing Hard-Wired "Blueprints" for Our Life Experiences
This focus of this training program is to demonstrate how we bring core beliefs together with certain feelings, reasoning and behavior to create "concepts" or "blueprints" for every kind of experience we have. We show how to to identify blueprint quickly and map out change. — Go to Program Overview

Track 8 PNDC Trainers' Training Programs
This track focuses, first, on a detailed picture of how traditional communication methods are based on the Power Struggle Paradigm and are so ingrained that we unconsciously prompt each others defenses regularly. Second, the majority of the trainings focus on non-defensive communication methods that have the power to defuse defensiveness, often instantly, even in high conflict situations. — Go to Program Overview

Track 1 — Core Beliefs that Shape Our Experiences

Traditional communication methods rely on power struggle in response to conflict. In the Core Concepts track programs we’ll examine how this traditional Power Struggle Cosmology or "worldview" has created myths about twelve pervasively common human experiences. These beliefs about key elements — such as protection, loyalty, honesty, trust, intimacy, and freedom—actually function to alienate us from ourselves and from others. Then, based on Sharon Strand Ellison’s alternate cosmology, the Reciprocity Cosmology, we'll look at how reciprocity has been "misunderstood." We'll detail exactly how and why it is actually one of the most powerful tools we have for self-protection, healing, and growth—in all realms of our lives. Various programs in this track will also involve looking at how we can make changes in each of these twelve core beliefs so they to create "concepts" or "blueprints" for our experiences that meet the standard of reciprocity and thus, are far more fulfilling.
16 Programs - 2 hrs each      See Calendar for Current Listings

Click Here to Show/Hide Core Reciprocity Program Descriptions

Track 1 — Core Beliefs that Shape Our Experiences

Program 1.
The Power Struggle Principle

We are always using power in specific ways, whether we are standing up or sitting down, talking, thinking or feeling an emotion. In this session we’ll examine a use of power that comes from the dual premise that (1) defensiveness is our primary means of protection and (2) power struggle is an essential tool for achieving many of our goals. This system of using power in our interactions has been dominant for more than 24 centuries! It has deeply influenced our attitudes and behaviors and has an insidious impact on most of us—even if we are dedicated to constructive communication methods.

We’ll look in detail at how this form of power is literally designed to function as a force that alienates us from ourselves and from others, damaging our ability to be honest and build trust, to experience genuine intimacy and find our own spirit of freedom. Gaining a deep understanding of the impact this use of power has on us is a vital step in freeing ourselves from it’s destructive influence on our lives.

Program 2. The Reciprocity Principle

— Recommended as a pre-requisite for both the Core Concepts Series and the PNDC Skills Training

The Reciprocity Principle is the foundation for both Sharon Strand Ellison's book on Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ and the forthcoming book, Changing Blueprints ~ Changing Reality. In this session, participants will have a chance to explore how widely misunderstood reciprocity is, and then examine how it actually functions, giving us far greater power to accomplish our goals. The process simultaneously (a) leaves us less dependent on others' cooperation, while (b) frequently prompting others to be more willing to do their part. — See Calendar for Current Listings

Program 3.
The Impact of Power Struggle & Reciprocity Paradigms on How We Interact

— Recommended as a pre-requisite for both the Core Concepts Series & the PNDC Skills Trainings

Using color wheels, we'll compare how the Power Struggle Paradigm as compared to the Reciprocity Paradigm each impact even minute details of what we experience. The color wheels integrate the picture of both concepts and communication in each system. First, we'll look at how to shift from using six pervasive defensive modes to developing six aspects of our character that give us personal strength and integrity. Second, we'll look how to transform each of three basic forms of communication, questions, statements, and predictions. Traditional use of these communication tools is literally designed to create and accelerate power struggle, even with those we love most. We'll look at how to use these same tools to create reciprocity, resulting in relationships that promote greater competence and deeper compassion. . Participants will receive a color-coded copy of each color wheel. — See Calendar for Current Listings

Program 4. Core Concepts: From Power Struggle to Reciprocity

Where do these core concepts—that can ultimately determine what we experience—come from? We believe that, first, as stated in the overview, the Power Struggle and/or Reciprocity paradigms influence the formation, at both conscious and unconscious beliefs. These beliefs become concepts that impact all our experiences in life. Thus, environment has a huge impact. We also believe that each of us plays a crucial role in determining how we perceive, interpret, and respond to these environmental influences. Thus, there are layers of concepts and blueprints, starting with global ones to those that are adhered to by the "culture" of various groups ranging from countries to religions and races, down to professions, groups bonded by special interests, and families. Finally, out of all this, we create concepts and blueprints that are unique to us as individuals.

In this cluster of webinars and workshops, we'll look at each of 11 concepts that become blueprints for our experience with a focus on how to remove ourselves from the influence of core concepts grounded in power struggle and create blueprints grounded in the Reciprocity Principle.

In each session, we'll concentrate on one core concept and provide detailed accounts how we often create concepts that have no-win choices built into them. Whenever we have no-win choices it can mean that "something is missing" — something that is damaging to our physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or spiritual health. Each of these Core Concepts that come from a belief system that relies heavily on power struggle has very specific things "missing" thus creates certain, identifiable problems. We'll name the missing pieces for each of these core concepts. It's like having a car with a gas pedal but no brakes—or brakes but no gas pedal. On one side you're out of control. On the other you're stuck, trapped, can't move forward. Finally we'll show how to create a concept that brings together the gas pedal and the brakes, to integrate the all the pieces that we need to create the balance necessary to enhancing the depth and meaning of every interaction.

While there are many more core concepts that shape our experience, we have picked 11 that are central to many of the issues that we struggle with in order enhance our own self-esteem and integrity, as well as to create strong bonds and healthy relationships with others. While we will still struggle to make changes, the amount of effort can be far less for a much greater outcome.

— Click on Each Title Below to See a Short Overview


Length of Training: Twelve 2-hour sessions delivered monthly via live webinars with downloads of Sharon's presentation in case you have to miss the session. Take the sessions as a series or each one individually as a stand-alone. — See Calendar for Current Listings

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 1. Authority

Have you noticed how often people can shift back and forth between trying to get cooperation from others and then getting frustrated and either giving up or reverting anger and directives? Most of us struggle with how to use our personal, parental and/or professional authority in ways that are effective with other people and also feel "right" to us. In this session we'll look at what is, far too often, missing from our understanding of authority. Those missing pieces create a kind of authority that is rigid, erratic, or non-existent. We'll detail what we need to get rid of and what we need to add to create a formula for authority that will balance our need to be firm while also being open and accessible.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 2. Vulnerability

The first line in Taking the War Out of Our Words identifies the following motto as a foundational principle of war, ". . . to be open is to be vulnerable and to be vulnerable is to be weak." Historically, vulnerability has carried this reputation for being weak; vulnerable to attack. Much work is being done now to demonstrate how being vulnerable can be a positive, bonding part of our relationships. At the same time, even people who consciously believe that, still can say things that indicate that they do not feel "safe" enough to be "open" with someone about what they are thinking or feeling. Even in our families, when we're with people we love, we can feel cautious about saying something that might "come back to us," as a criticism. In this session, we'll look in detail how vulnerability has been robbed of its strength, and how we can truly reclaim the incredible power vulnerability can have.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 3. Protection

Protection is as essential to our emotional wellbeing as it is to our survival. But how we give and receive protection is, frankly, pretty erratic. In a relationship with one person, we may respond in a way that is commonly called "overprotective"— which is not protection at all. It actually weakens the person receiving it. In other situations, we may fail to speak up or in other ways not protect someone, even a person we love dearly. Some people always protect the underdog; some, the person in power. In this session, we'll unpack what is so often missing from our concept of protection that causes it often to be dysfunctional. Then we'll demonstrate how to protect ourselves and others in ways that provide the kind of safety that will also enhance self-reliance.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 4. Difference

Throughout centuries, wars and other forms of violence have ensued over differences in everything from race to ethnicity, beliefs, lifestyle, and/or even their personal choices about perhaps being an artist instead of a doctor, or who they want to date or marry. We live in a world where difference is often something to be afraid of. It prompts many of us to try to control others, and if we fail, to reject or punish them. Some people think that if they associate with others who believe anything they don't agree with, it will rub off on them or mean that they are giving approval simply by association.

The whole Power Struggle Paradigm functions on the idea that difference causes alienation. Even those of us who are generally inclusive can fall back into being critical of others or feeling a need to control their choices. It's even often hard to know how to not feel alienated in order to keep our own value system, especially if someone is being abusive. In this session, we'll look what where we still hold deeply ingrained judgments that use up our energy and seduce us into trying to control others. We'll discuss a concept of difference that gives us tool for responding more effectively to others who are fearful of or hostile toward people who are "different" from them. Finally, we'll look at how we can keep our own values while more fully accessing the rich, creative, potential that many layers of "difference" offer us.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 5. Loyalty

Why is it that when we believe we've been very loyal to someone, we can still get accused of not being loyal? How often have people had arguments over loyalty? While it would seem that loyalty should be one of the most secure bonds between or among people, it too often leads to people feeling betrayed, even when they haven't been. In this session we'll look at what is missing from the power struggle concept of loyalty that can cause even dear friends to become alienated. Then we'll look at one specific element that can be added into our concept of loyalty that can give it greater strength, flexibility and endurance.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 6. Honesty

Some people identify with being an "honest person," while justifying a version of honesty that is harsh and critical. On the other end of the continuum, some people avoid being fully honest in the name of being kind or not want to risk hurting someone. In this session, we'll look at what is often missing from the concept of honesty that creates this kind of frequent separation between kindness and honesty. Then we'll look at what we need to do to create an easier path to honesty that is straightforward while being caring.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 7. Accountability

In their book, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me), Carol Travis and Elliot Aronson say, "When we make mistakes, we must calm the cognitive dissonance that jars our feelings of self-worth. Most people find it difficult, if not impossible, to say, 'I was wrong.'" We persist in our denial even when confronted with irrefutable facts by creating a narrative that absolves us of responsibility, remembering our version as truth, blaming others for harm we have caused, and seeing ourselves as victims. They essentially conclude that is it human nature to want to avoid taking accountability. We believe it is only when human nature is seen through the lens of the power struggle, where one person is a winner and one a loser, where one person is right and one wrong. In that system blame can get passed around in unending cycles. In this session we'll find the missing pieces that so we can create a concept of accountability that isn't experienced as failure, but rather, as a sign of strength and integrity.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 8. Trust

In the power struggle worldview, trust is fragile. Once broken, trust is incredibly hard to regain. Even if people work to come back to a place of trust, it can continue to feel damaged — with long-term consequences to the relationship. While we believe there are certainly many times when broken trust comes from attitudes or behaviors that are so severely damaging, it should not be repaired. At the same time, millions of people miss opportunities to rebuild trust and ultimately find it to be stronger than it was. It's like a broken pottery bowl that, repaired in the Japanese tradition of Kintsubi, appears to have veins of gold where it's scars once were. The" brokenness" is healed and transformed into beauty. We'll look at what qualities we need to integrate into our concept of trust in order make us more able to turn the pain of loss into insights that bring us to new levels of understanding and deeper connection.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 9. Intimacy

Intimacy between two people in love is often seen as very strong in the beginning of a relationship. However, it also seen as becoming weaker as time goes on, frequently to the point where it ceases to exist. One popular rationale is that the pheromones are strong in the beginning but fade, so the sexual attraction is lost. Another is that as people get to know each other better, they don't like each other as well. But how does that explain people who we think of as "soul mates," people whose love and intimacy deepens over decades?

Outside of a relationship between two people in love, intimacy has a different kind of reputation — it is perceived as being tied to sexuality, so to have a feeling of intimate closeness with someone we are not "in love" with can be dangerous. In the Power Struggle realm, we are not supposed to feel an intimacy with someone we are not in love with. Ironcially, having sex with someone we don't love is seen by many to be being OK. In this session we'll examine how our concept of intimacy frequently is set up for experiencing love in ways that become destined to fail. Then we'll look at what our concept of intimacy needs so we have and honor healthy, intimate heart and mind connections with family members, friends, and others, who give us the intangible gifts that nurture us. We'll demonstrate how this expanded understanding of intimacy will provide a foundation for creating an intimacy with the person we are in love with that can not only last the test of time, but deepen over the decades.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 10. Compassion

Sharon's daughter, Ami Atkinson Combs, wrote in a college paper, "The burden of understanding is compassion, and since most of us fear that burden, we narrow our vision, not realizing we are entrapping ourselves. The only way to free ourselves is to accept the burden." Ami's paper addresses the issue of people's resistance to feeling compassion, and there are many reasons. It may feel too painful, we may fear feeling too responsible for those we care about. In the power struggle mentality, the idea of compassion is also rejected as naive, putting us in a position where we are likely to be taken advantage of. There is no place for compassion if we follow "survival of the fittest" tenets. Those who aren't tough are simply seen as weak.

Many people who are very compassionate have been brainwashed to some extent by this harsher world view. While they remain compassionate, they continue to give even when others are not appreciative. And they don't see themselves as having or "wanting" power. One man said, "Being compassionate is important to me. I don't care about power." In both worldviews, compassion and power have been split apart. In this session we'll look at how to bring together compassion and constructive power, giving us the ability to make compassion more positively contagious as part of a process of personal and community growth.

Core Concepts that Shape Our Life Experiences ~ 11. Freedom

Freedom. It's a great word, calling up images of people laughing, playing, perhaps standing in a field of wild flowers, spinning in a circle, arms held out, looking up at a blue sky with a look of joy or awe. Children running on the beach, playing in the ocean. In reality, the struggle for freedom is very different for most children and adults than the movie image. Those who do have seemingly unencumbered freedom are often are less inclined to feel willing to take responsibility in personal and work relationships. They often feel "tied down" if others expect them to take any responsibility. Then they blame others for being unreasonable, manipulate or controlling. They end up angry, and their self-esteem is damaged by not contributing to their family, workplace, an/ord community. To the contrary, those who are very responsible may actually feel guilty if they do take even a little personal freedom and/or they can also end up being bitter because they carry more than their own load. The most pervasive concept of freedom has been created by a philosophy of taking without giving. In this session we'll look at how we can actually make responsibility into a an open place for the kind of genuine freedom that embodies pure, uncontaminated joy.

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Track 2Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ Skill Building

1. Introductory PNDC Workshop:
    ~ A Revolutionary Method for Eliminating Defensiveness

In this workshop we'll look at how the same rules used for combat have traditionally been used as the foundation for our verbal communication. We'll examine how this War Model for communication has functioned to create and accelerate vast amounts of needless conflict. We'll look at the physiology and psychology of defensiveness and learn methods for defusing it. Then we'll go through a process of learning how to shift to a non-defensive process for asking disarming questions, giving honest feedback without judgment, stating opinions strongly without alienating others, and creating clear boundaries without making people feel controlled or punished.         See Calendar for Current Listings

The remaining three programs in Track II offer a more in-depth experiential program on each of the core non-defensive Communication skills.

2 . Powerful Non-Defensive Questions
     ~ Getting at the Heart of an Issue Quickly

We'll focus learning and practicing more than a dozen formats for asking questions. Instead of prompting people to feel interrogated, these questions are much more likely to inspire them to drop their own defenses and be more open to genuine conversation.   See Calendar for Current Listings

3. Powerful Non-Defensive Statements
   ~ Honesty With Genuine Compassion

Using a four-step process we'll examine and practice two forms of statement. First, we'll look at how to give feedback so that instead of feeling criticized, people can more easily feel respected and want to listen. Second, we'll practice how to express our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs so that we can speak with clarity — even passion — while having more ability to create greater understanding, even in hi-conflict situations.     
See Calendar for Current Listings

4. Powerful Non-Defensive Predictions
    ~ Fostering Competence & Reciprocity

Using two different formats, we'll practice how create effective boundaries and predict consequences in a manner that is most likely to prompt others to become increasingly competent and reciprocal.
See Calendar for Current Listings

Click Here to Show/Hide Core PNDC Skill Building Program Descriptions

PNDC Track 2 contains four Training Programs:

The first of these four programs covers is an introductory traning and the others go into more on each of the three forms of non-defensive communication. We recommend taking the introductory training first, but it's not not required. Each training can funcation as a stand-alone.

Introductory Workshop
Non-Defensive Questions
Non-Defensive Statements
Non-Defensive Predictions

Introductory Workshop
   ~ A revolutionary Method for Eliminating Defensiveness

See Calendar for Current Listings


Traditional communication methods have consistently fueled pervasive defensiveness 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.

 —See Calendar for Current Listings     

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

 —See Calendar for Current Listings

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 questions.


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.

See Calendar for Current Listings

Non-Defensive Statements: Honesty Without Judgment
(1) Giving Feedback to Others
(2) Expressing Our Own Thoughts, Feelings, and Beliefs

 —See Calendar for Current Listings


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.

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Non-Defensive Predictions: Fostering Competence & Reciprocity

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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.


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.

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Track 3 — Issue-Focused Trainings

We offer Issue-Focused training programs so people have 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, (d) being in groups where one person has a perpetually negative attitude, (e) listening to gossip, sarcasm, or inappropriate remarks, and/or (f) feeing frustrated by someone who doesn't contribute equally in joint activities.

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. Applying PNDC skills to commonly faced issues enhances the potential for responding with great effectiveness and integrity, as well as enhancing cohesiveness among the people involved. If you want a session on a topic not on the list, let us know and we can create it! We can also tailor these issue-focused trainings as a single session or a series of segments for organizations. 24 Programs -2 Hrs. Each     
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Click Here to Show/Hide issue-Focused Program Descriptions

The topics for these short webinars/workshops focus on issues related to:
(1) transforming our own internal process, and
(2) responding effectively to attitudes and behaviors in others that worry, frustrate, or offend us.
he sessions offer an opportunity to apply non-defensive communication skills in an experiential way to common issues that impact our lives in every environment. While there is crossover between the two areas, the first focuses primarily on changing ourselves, and the second on how we respond to others.

We offer trainings from this list for open enrollment. You can also let us know which ones you are interested in, or arrange a session for your organization or group. In addition, we offer individual coaching on any of the topics.

Length of Trainings:      ~ Webinars: 1-2 Hours      ~ Workshops: 3 Hours


Each of these sessions focus on changing ourselves to achieve greater clarity, honesty, integrity and freedom. The changes involved can lead to greater compassion and constructive influence with others.

Eliminating Our Own Victim Mind Set
Letting Go of Old, Internal, Self-Defeating Scripts
Transforming Our Experience of Vulnerability ~ From Weakness to Strength
The Authority Continuum ~ From Power Struggle to Inspiring Leadership
~ 4 Positions that Lead to Misuses of Authority & One that Maximizes Healthy Boundaries
Are Your Protective Urges Backfiring?
The Agenda Trap
Identifying & Defusing Key Attitudes & Behaviors that Trigger Us
How Can We Change Our Unwanted Habits Faster?
Pitfalls in Common Communication "Best Practices"
~ Applicable for both Professional (ADR, Mental Health, etc.) and Personal Interactions

Can I have Strong Emotions and Still be Non-Defensive?
The Power of Tone ~ For Women
The Power of Tone ~ For Men
From Judgment to Curiosity "Beam Me Up, Scotty!" ~ Instant Transportation to New Realities

~ At Home, at Work, and/or in Community

Reacting Quickly & Effectively to Six Primary Defensive Modes
A Parlor Game: What Defensive Mode is That?
~ An Exercise to Practice Quickly Recognizing Which of Six Defensive Modes is Being Used in a Variety of Common Interactions

Why Do We Give Negative People So Much Power? ~ It's Time to Stop!
Denial ~ One of the Crazy Makers
Micro-Inequities ~ Small Insults That Do Great Damage
Bogus Apologies ~ The Blame Game
Responding to Criticism Without Getting Defensive
Who, Me? I didn't Make a Rude or Crude Remark
~ Dealing with People Who Say Offensive Things & Claim We Misunderstood Them

Whose Side are You On, Anyway? ~ Caught in the Middle Between Two or More Other People
Methods for Responding to Bullies Without Engaging in Power Struggle
Burned Out on Giving Encouragement
~ How to More Successfully Inspire Others to Gain Hope and Strength-Without Ending Up Exhausted

Reclaiming Civility ~ The Real Article, Not a "False Front"


Eliminating Our own Victim Mind-Set
~ A Vital Growth-Issue Even for Many of Us Who Feel Self-Empowered

Scientific data now demonstrates that the moment we become defensive, we lose our ability for complex problem solving and develop literal mind-set of a victim, choosing only between surrender, flight, and fight. Given than defensiveness is epidemic, it follows that millions of us move easily into a victim mentality, often without even being conscious that we are doing so. In this session, we'll look in detail at the impact this physiological and psychological state has on us, and the immeasurable damage it does to our lives. While many of us feel relatively empowered and do not consciously see ourselves as victims, we'll talk about many of common ways we go into this "victim mentality" in the course of our daily lives.

Participants can pick an area they want to work on and we'll look at how to stay how of this mind-set even when others are, for example, being disrespectful and/or not doing their share at home or work. The insights and skills you gain can free you to see the other person's strengths and weaknesses more realistically, make clearer choices and set more effective boundaries.
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Letting Go of Old, Self-Defeating Internal Scripts

We hold the belief that our relationship to ourselves is a primal one. It has a huge impact, not only on our self-esteem, but also on our relationships with everyone else. And most of us, to varying degrees, use traditional methods of communication based on the Rules of War in our own internal conversations with ourselves. So we go through cycles of first criticizing and judging ourselves and then defending ourselves. We may cycle round and round for years—or our entire life-time. Our own minds and hearts can become a battlefield where we are simultaneously abuser and victim, and sometimes even the third-party protector.

In this session, you can learn how to create an environment inside of yourself where discovery and healing can take place. We'll practice how to get rid of self-defeating conversations with yourself, so you can strengthen self-esteem, confidence and decision-making power. With greater internal clarity and peace, you can have a foundation for creating more fulfilling relationships with others.
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Transforming Our Experience of Vulnerability
~ From Achilles Heel into a Tap-Root to Strength

Is vulnerability a weakness? Do we dare show our vulnerability to someone we don't feel safe with? Most of us have internalized deep messages about hiding vulnerability except from those we trust completely. Even if we believe it is healthy to be open and show vulnerability, we often are driven by old programmed beliefs to feel weak when we do so. We might think it is more difficult for men to show vulnerability than women. While that may be true in some respects, feeling uncomfortably vulnerable is also a crucial problem for women. Women can experience it as a loss of power and/or as at least potentially opening themselves to being hurt. At work, showing vulnerability is commonly even more taboo.

In this session participants can examine aspects of how they experience vulnerability as weakness and then we'll look exactly how and why being vulnerable is essential to our ability to experience our own strengths. We'll look at what needs to change in order to transform vulnerability from our "Achilles Heel" into a tap-root to strength—an essential source for living with full power.

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The Authority Continuum
~ 4 Positions that Lead to Misuses of Authority & a New Position that Maximizes Healthy Boundaries

Attitudes and actions by people in authority—workplace managers, teachers, politicians, parents—have traditionally been divided between being on the authoritarian side of the continuum and the permissive side. In an effort to get away from these two polar-opposites, many people have begun to use authority in ways that are not strictly on the authoritarian or permissive end of the continuum. Unfortunately, two of the most common ways of using authority now have merged aspects of authoritarianism and permissiveness and continue to lead to misuses of our personal and professional authority. Those being supervised still do not experience the kind of boundaries that bring together the balance of security and freedom that foster the highest level of competence, creativity and reciprocity.

In this session we'll look at all four positions on the authority continuum and examine how even permissiveness is still rooted in traditional War Model concepts of authoritarianism. We'll look very specifically at how all four positions most commonly used function and the impact they have. Participants will participate in an exercise to measure how much they use each of these four and also compare their own use to youth or adults they have significant relationships with. Finally, we'll look at how to take the best of authoritarian firmness and permissive flexibility and create a process for using authority that fosters a healthy balance between security, respect, competence, creativity, and spontaneity.

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Are Your Protective Instincts Backfiring?

So often our desire to protect loved ones, friends, or co-workers prompts us to reassure them when they are upset or not give honest feedback about their attitudes and behaviors—even if they have sought us out and asked for it. We'll look at how such "protective" reactions are far from protective and often serve to shut down in-depth meaningful conversation that can be transformations. In the session we'll walk through steps to demonstrate how common protective reactions work and the impact they have. Then, using real life examples, we'll look at exactly how we can do it differently with often surprising, even amazing results that strengthen the relationship and foster growth for us as well as the person we have been "protecting."

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Identifying Key Defensive Attitudes & Behaviors that Trigger Us
~ Learning to Defuse the Triggers

Most of know clearly that certain attitudes and behaviors "push our buttons." We may, possibly very accurately, trace the reason(s) for why we are triggered to childhood experiences, or the attitudes of someone we were in a intimate relationship with that went sour. In this session we'll look at another aspect, which is the system of defensive reactions we all have and how we react to some kinds of defensive reactions more than others. Participants can look compare the attitudes and behaviors that trigger them to which of six common defensive modes they represent. Then we'll look deeper at what it is about those reactions that prompt us often to react defensively ourselves. Finally we'll examine how we might defuse the power of those triggers.

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How Can We Change Our Own Destructive Habits Faster?

Changing entrenched habits that we want to eliminate can be, to say the least, very difficult. We know now that "habits" get essentially "hardwired' into our brains, becoming an automatic response—like driving the car. We usually also have the illusion that some aspect of the habit gives us something we need, so we have some resistance to giving up the comfort food, shopping spree, or that glass of wine after a hard day. Even those of us who aspire to living by our values can justify a habit—like lashing out in self-righteous anger—based on how we judge the other person's behavior. In fact, habits have some of control over us that addictions to alcohol and drugs do. We are more likely now to hear of people being "addicted" to anger or shopping, for example.

While this session is not focused on dealing with serious addictions, the methods for making changes are applicable for dealing with entrenched habits. We'll go through a step-by-step process for looking at (a) how to change certain aspects of how we use power that impact the kind of control we will or won't have in the process, (b) how to organize the steps we take to achieve the change, and (c) creating "a practice" that solidifies our efforts to internalize the change. Participants will have an opportunity to work their own examples as we walk through this process, which they may chose to share or keep private.

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Moving Beyond Common Pitfalls in Communication "Best Practices"
~ Applicable for both Professional (ADR, Mental Health, etc.) and Personal Interactions

What if a few words could prompt a family member, friend, co-worker or client to be instantly more open, honest, compassionate and/or accountable? Regularly. Great progress has been made in facilitating constructive conflict resolution and people learning to engage in genuinely respectful conversations. At the same time, many current "best practices" in communication are still rooted in techniques that can prompt defensive reactions. We’ll look at (a) six common “pitfalls” when asking questions, (b) four when giving feedback, (c) one when stating our own position, and (d) one when boundaries. We’ll then identify small changes we can make to eliminate these pitfalls. We can then have far greater ability to speak in ways that make others feel seen, heard, and safe enough to drop their own defenses and come to the conversation with greater openness and integrity.

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The Agenda Trap

A huge percentage of conversations that people have are, at least to some extent, driven by our own agendas. Perhaps as a professional we know that we have a formal agenda that needs to be covered in a meeting. We might be a parent who has great concern about the welfare of one of our children—a child, teen or adult. We might be worried that a friend is dating someone who is not "good" for her or him. When we have concerns for someone else or for making sure we accomplish certain goals, we begin to do a series of things to "stage manage" the conversation—to make it go where we want it to go. This often includes getting the other person to change some attitude or behavior. Much of the time when we say to someone, "You're not hearing me," what we really mean is "You're not agreeing with me." We may not even realize we are trying to control the conversation.

The problem is, that no matter how much we care about the person and/or want to serve the needs of a client, if we are motivated any agenda, the odds are high that we will cause the others to become defensive and resistant. Getting out of the "agenda trap" is hard, and it is essential if we want the highest level of ability to communicate effectively. In this session, we'll do experiential exercises to identify how often we are driven by agenda when we don't realize it and then look at methods for being present in a conversation without agenda as a means to open the door to greater connection, understanding, and resolution. Shifting away from being agenda driven gives us more, not less ability to be a constructive influence in the lives of family, friends, and clients.

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Can We Express Emotion Strongly Without Being Defensive?

Historically, the idea of expressing strong emotions has been categorized as "being emotional" as "opposed" to being "reasonable." We have associated expressing strong emotions with being out of control, with making bad decisions, even accelerating to violence. People have been taught, "Keep your emotions under control." In this session we'll look at how (a) many of our defensive reactions are misidentified as out of control emotions, when (b) the emotional component of the defensive responses are being driven by specific values and reasoning.

Conversely, expressing the depth of our emotion is essential to keeping our own integrity and voice, as well as letting others know what kind of impact they have on us. In this workshop we'll look at how to express our thoughts and beliefs, as well as our feelings, strongly, even passionately, without becoming defensive, trying to get others to agree, or engaging in any form of power struggle. Using the skills learned, we can also enhance our ability to disagree without creating unwanted conflict. And whatever the conversation, we can have far more power to speak with integrity and wisdom, often inspiring others in the process.

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The Power of Tone ~ For Women

While women have more modeling now for being confidently assertive, there is still a long way to go. As women, we may still speak in a tentative tone, which causes what we have to say to be more easily dismissed. Conversely, when we want to assert ourselves, we can have a kind of urgency in our voice that comes, in part, from our belief that we will be ignored. We are then more likely to be viewed as harsh or aggressive and be met with resistance to whatever we say.

In working with groups of highly competent women, we have still found that there is a tendency for women to speak by projecting through the head and nose—which produces a higher thinner tone, rather than speaking from the chest which produces a somewhat lower—and interestingly—more relaxed tone. The latter tone conveys greater confidence and has a calming effect that inspires others to listen. In this practice session, each woman can work to find her own natural tone conveys a the kind of authority that fosters respect. We'll combine the work on tone with an exercise on how to share our experience and competence without being either self-effacing or arrogant. The power of tone and respect for our own competence can change our visibility and our lives, enhancing inspirational qualities of leadership, wherever we are, whatever our role.

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NOTE: The Power of Tone sessions can also be done for mixed groups of men and women. Done separately men and women often feel more comfortable doing the work and find it more personally transformational. In a mixed group that is very comfortable with each other, people can still have transformational experiences, along with enhancing understanding and insight in cross gender relationships.

The Power of Tone ~ For Men

While men have some greater modeling in their families and in society for using the natural, deeper tones of their voice, they are also trained to be very competitive and to hide more tender feelings. For many men, voice tone is used to convey a sense of confidence and power that they don't actually feel.

It is difficult as a man to feel powerful when society teaches that unless you are the top competitor, you are a failure. Even in the current era, many men struggle to reconcile tenderness and strength. One man I know, said, "I don't care about power, it's more important to me to be sensitive." He didn't even realize that he was assuming he had to make a choice between the two.

In this workshop, we'll work together to practice voice tones that demonstrate deeper levels of confidence and authority while expressing a full range of feeling, bringing strength and compassion together. What you learn can help you to use something as simple as your tone of voice to escape the myth of competition as the source of power and become more integrated and whole— a foundation for the kind of leadership that garners the greatest respect and offers profound modeling for sons and daughters.

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From Judgment to Curiosity
"Beam Me Up, Scotty!"~ Instant Transportation to New Realities

When we are defensive, genuine curiosity dies. We simply cannot access it. If we do ask questions we are usually trying to prove our point or use a question as sarcasm to "put down" at the other person. Likewise, whenever we feel a judgment about someone, we have no access to real curiosity. In this session, we'll start by looking at the how and why we “lose” our curiosity, including the seemingly convoluted process by which we can move from hurt to superiority and judgment. Often we don't even know it is happening. We'll look at examples that show how many times, we damage relationships even in cases where we were the ones who misunderstood the other person's intention, attitude, or behavior.

Using examples from the facilitator and group members, we'll go through a process that enhances our ability to move past judgment and find our "lost" curiosity. And moving past judgment doesn't mean giving up our own value system or losing our ability for critical analysis, it simply allows us to speak with greater wisdom and respect for others' humanity. Even when we have been hurt by someone, curiosity can infuse us with strength. We can respond with greater grace and confidence. We'll also deepen the practice in how to ask questions that have the innocence of pure curiosity, and look at why such curiosity has such tremendous, almost magical power to bring others to the table for the kind of real conversation that takes us to new places.

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2. Focus: Responding To Specific Kinds of Attitudes and Behaviors that We See in Others that Worry, Frustrate or Offend Us         ~ At Home, at Work, and/or in Community

Responding Quickly and Effectively to Six Primary Defensive Reactions
~ Gain understanding of key defensive reactions & enhance your ability to Not "Get Hooked"

We can be hooked by others' defensive responses either when we get frustrated and angry with them or when we want to protect them. We might be worried about someone who doesn't protect her/himself or seems to always have to justify what he/she does.We might be frustrated by someone who makes hit and run sarcastic remarks, or who wrecks a meeting or an event simply by siting with crossed arms and a scowl . . . the list goes on. In Taking the War Out of Our Words, Sharon has identified six primary defensive modes that people use regularly. If we don't know how to respond without getting enmeshed in the other person(s) process, we can waste hours, weeks, even years rehashing even a single interaction.

In this session, we'll look at three passive and three aggressive modes. In some cases, there are more than a dozen ways to "act out" a particular defensive mode. In others,thre are fewer alternatives. Each of the six examples below exemplifies one the six categories. We will: (a) examine the dynamics of each defensive mode using a range of examples, (b) look at typical responses that actually fuel the defensiveness, (c) look at the impact it can have on our mind-state, and (d) outline and discus how to respond without getting "hooked"—into being overprotective, frustrated, judgmental, angry, or controlling. When we respond in ways that keep us grounded, it can make a huge impact, first, on our own self-esteem, as well as freeing our energy for more constructive and creative pursuits. Second, it can have a major impact on the direction any conversation goes and/or the strength of a relationship.

A. Defending the Bully ~ Co-Dependent Acceptance of Mistreatment

B. The "Friendly" Gotcha ~ Passive-Aggressive Sabotage

C. Hiding behind the Rock ~ Passive Withdrawal to Escape Conflict

D. The "Unfriendly" Gotcha ~ Sullen Withdrawal & Entrapment

E. It's All Your Fault! ~ Using Blame to Avoid Accountability & Manipulate

F. It's Not My Fault ~ Excuses & Legitimate Explanations Both Leave Us "One-Down"

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A Parlor Game: What Defensive Mode is That?
~ An Exercise to Practice Quickly Recognizing Which of Six Defensive Modes is Being Used in a Variety of Common Interactions

Thiagii—a brilliant, internationally recognized master at creating learning games—and I created a game for learning how to quickly recognize which of the six defensive reactions are at play in all sorts of different situations. The game can be played as a card game, or done as a parlor game. In this training program, we'll do the parlor game version. We'll use a set of 120 cards that each tells a story about a scenario where someone is doing something defensive. Random cards be pulled from the deck and teams will each have one minute to decide which of the six defensive modes they think the key person in the example is using.

Done as a webinar, each person plays the game individually—and those who want to share what they picked can do so for the discussion portion. The goal here is not to have a competition to win, but to examine how people got to their conclusions and gain deeper understanding of how to recognize various attitudes and behaviors according to what kind of defensive "mode" is being used.

Often times, people don't even recognize or understand THE dynamics other people defensive reactions and therefore get caught up in power struggle. One woman said, after one of these Parlor Game sessions, "I talked to my mom on the phone today, I could see exactly which three defensive modes she switched between! It was so much easier to talk to her and not 'get hooked' when I understood the dynamics. Understanding the dynamics of our own and others' defensive responses is a crucial part of learning to be less intimidated and/or triggered by other people's reactions. It's a fast, fun practice.


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

We tend to give negative people who act cold, manipulative, hostile, and/or withholding, 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 this practice session, we'll look first at how and why we have given negative people, even those who are a "weak link" in the group, so much power. Then we'll practice using non-defensive methods to diminish or even eliminate their demoralizing impact in one-to-one relationships and on group morale, creativity and cohesiveness. In some cases, the person will continue to be negative, but simply not have the same kind of power because others have learned how not to be smothered by the blanket of negativity. In other cases, the person will shift their attitude and become more positive.

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Denial ~ One of the Crazy Makers

Most of us have felt crazy-made when someone is "in denial" about anything from a willingness to take responsibility for breaking a commitment to owning their part in a conflict, to acknowledging having said something hurtful, or being too harsh or too permissive with a child. While denial of some form of addiction is also common, and the skills learned in this session will apply, our primary focus is not on addiction. When something seems obvious to us, can be enormously frustrating when we can't "get" the other person to see it and acknowledge it. A common response, even during simple disagreements, is to try to force our way through what we believe to be "denial."While we might be right or wrong about whether the person is in denial, lets assume for a minute that we are right.

When we try to get through to a person we're assuming to be in denial, that person then often accuses us of causing the problem and suddenly we're on the defensive ourselves. As quickly as Alice fell into the sometimes-nightmarish Wonderland, we can fall into a kind of power struggle where reality seems to have become dramatically distorted. Sometimes we just give in and accept the denial.

This workshop will focus on how to respond effectively without either being drawn into accepting the other person's denial, or feeling compelled to drag the person out of it. The session will provide tools for defusing the situation so that if we are incorrect in our own assumption, we are more likely to get the information we shift our own understanding. Using non-defensive skills changes the power dynamics that go on when denial is happening, and increases the likelihood that either (a) we can walk away without getting hooked into it, and/or (b) the other person, not having to fight us off, will lift the veil and look more closely at the possible validity of what we are saying.

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Micro-Inequities ~ Small Insults Can Do Great Damage

The phrase, coined by Dr. Mary Rowe, professor at MIT, refers to small, seemingly insignificant interactions, where one person feels dismissed, ignored, interrupted, embarrassed, or negated. Her work is focused on the workplace and data now demonstrates that such "small insults" are actually a major source of conflict and dissatisfaction for both employees and managers. People are more likely to quit a job over a repetitive series such small incidents, such as being regularly interrupted by someone in a meeting than a single major issue.

I believe that micro-inequities are rampant at home too, and the little things we ignore and don't appreciate that others do for us, the sarcastic teasing that makes someone feel repetitively put down, the advise that is delivered with virtually the same words and tone over days, months, or years, all erode love, intimacy, and joy in our personal relationships. Too often, despite the impact of the repetitive nature of these attitudes, comments or behaviors, we "pass them off," as too small to be important.

We can also be greatly impacted by watching such mistreatment of others and often don't know how to respond when we see others impacted. The skills learned can also enhance your ability to speak up when you see micro-inequities happening to others. Whether you want to deal with the little wounds get increasingly sore, like a splinter you can't get out, at work or home, this session will help you find solutions. Bring a few examples from your own life or situations where you have witnessed— the "little things" that push buttons, and learn how to change the dynamics.

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Bogus Apologies ~ The Blame Game

Currently, many common ways of giving an apology are not only, not genuine, but actually pass blame back to the person receiving the apology. The blame may be direct, but it is most often covert. For example, people frequently say, "I'm sorry if you took it that way." Translated, the message is, "I'm sorry you misunderstood me." Here, I'm using my apology to suggest that I did nothing wrong, you simply didn't correctly understand what I said. Such apologies usually do more damage than good, because the person receiving the apology was first offended, and now blamed for the problem. People also often say they are sorry just to "keep the peace." We'll start by discussing a series of common forms of apology that aren't "real."

Knowing how to sort out "real" apologies from those that aren't is crucial to maintaining healthy relationships whether we are receiving the apology or giving it. We'll focus on three areas: (1) dealing with people who give apologies which seem to be insincere, manipulative, or even blaming, (2) refraining from apologizing as a surrender to someone else's judgments, and (3) giving full, thorough apologizes when we have done something we believe was inappropriate or hurtful.

Learning to distinguish when to give and/or accept an apology is a first step. Learning how to refuse an apology is also important. Also, learning how to give an apology in way that takes accountability without justifying one's own behavior is, for many, a lost art that needs to be reclaimed. Refusing false apologies and giving only real ones when appropriate are building blocks for healing, but often can take them to a new level in one quantum leap.

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Responding to "Criticism" Without Getting Defensive

"Feedback" have a bad reputation. Most of us, to varying degrees, have experience other people's feedback as critical, harsh, and judgmental, coming to us as uninvited, unwanted advice. When others do criticize us, we often get defensive—try to defend our self-worth. At this point, many of us have a tendency to get defensive even if we receive feedback from people who care about us and are being honest without being harsh. The problem is that we end up turning away feedback that could be valuable and even if the feedback truly is not even close to the mark, we've spent a lot of energy defending ourselves. Or, we may walk away silently, but rehash what the person's criticism defending ourselves in our minds, to as we complain to others about the what he/she said.

In this session, we'll work on how to listen to feedback even when it is overly critical with a focus on separating how we analyze the content separately from how we respond to the tone. We'll focus on how to receive valuable feedback when someone is being harsh, and strengthen our self-esteem instead of giving in, withdrawing or fighting back. We'll also look at how to respond to harsh, hurtful feedback by separating the wheat from the chaff, taking the gift of what will feed our growth and leaving the garbage where it belongs. In the process, we can reclaim honesty and much integrity.

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"Who Me? I didn't Make a Rude or Crude Remark!"
~ People Who Say Very Offensive Things in Public Settings & then Claim We Misunderstood Them

It is surprising how often no one "does anything" when one person makes a very offensive remark, such as something racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist—or perhaps makes extremely judgmental comments about people in a certain religion. Part of the reason people may not respond is that when someone makes a highly offensive remark in a group setting—or even in a one-to-one conversation, it often has a kind of "startle impact." Everyone in an entire room full of people may be a bit stunned, like deer in the headlights. Frequently, no one says anything and after moments of that kind of dead silence, people go on as if it never happened. If someone does get angry or calls the person on her/his comment, the one who made the offending remark will most often pass it off. "I was just kidding. Lighten up!" Or, "That's not what I meant." However, confronting the person can cause an argument. People are often afraid that speaking up with damage the mood of the group and just create more discord.

In such situations it is very likely that one or more of the people involved in the interaction are from the group being disparaged. In fact, those people may even have been intentionally "targeted" by the person who made the crude remark. After people leave the group, perhaps from a family gathering, office meeting, or a party, some may talk to each other about what happened, others may apologize privately to anyone who took the brunt of the comment, saying something like, "I'm sorry (Joe or Mary) made that comment, I thought it was offensive." Apologizing for what the other person did is often unhelpful. The person receiving the apology may wonder why the person giving giving it didn't speak up in the group and is just doing it privately.

The problem is that the incident happened in the group and probably impacted many or most people who were there. Therefore, in a sense, it was group property and can damage the cohesiveness of the group, creating hurt and discord. The same principles apply to one-to-one interactions where offensive things are said. The focus in this practice session will be on how to respond to jarring, offensive comments in ways that address the hurtful remarks and confront the person while using a process that is honest without harsh judgment or engagement in power struggle.

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"Whose Side Are You On, Anyway?"
~ Caught in the Middle Between Two or More People in Conflict

Being caught in the middle of other people's conflicts can happen in many ways. Families can develop patterns of interaction that may go on for decades, where one or more people are constantly caught in the middle between two or more other family members. At work, a whole group in a meeting can be held captive to a conflict between two people. A co-worker might be the "listening ear" for two other co-workers in conflict with each other; a manager or HR person may have to manage complaints from co-workers who constantly rub each other the wrong way or are making accusations about inappropriate behavior. A manager may also feel caught in the middle between upper management and people who report directly to her or him. Friends and people in community organizations can just as easily find themselves caught up in other people's conflicts.

A common method of responding is to try to give support to each of the two people in conflict while trying to help them get along better. The problem is that people who feel caught in the middle often try so hard to support each of the people that they fuel the conflict without realizing it. In this practice session, we'll look at how to identify how the "mediating" person can unwittingly fuel the conflict. Also, we'll practice how to always establish a position of your own, while supporting conflict resolution between two other people. Becoming highly skilled at how we deal with others when they are in conflict, without getting "caught" can be a powerful tool that impacts the functioning and cohesion in family, work or community groups.

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Methods for Responding to Bullies Without Engaging in Power Struggle

So often parents and teachers tell young people in school that it takes more courage to just walk away from a conflict rather than stand up for themselves and engage in an argument that might turn into a physical fight. This is hard for kids to do, because it leaves them "voiceless," and most of us don't like to be voiceless. On the other hand if an adult encourages a young person to "fight back," too often it can end in injury, or even death. While walking away may sometimes be safer, neither choice feels good. And bullying isn't the old-fashioned schoolyard scrap. We even see much news about both young people and adults being bullied on the internet, too many driven to suicide.

Over 50 million Americans report being bullied in the workplace, which means that millions of other people may be witnessing it or at least hearing reports. These statistics do not take sexual harassment into account. Others deny ever being bullied or ever seeing it, which has caused some studies to refer to bullying as a "silent epidemic." Likewise bullying happens at home, between siblings, and spouses/partners. Bullying can happen also between a parent and child. The direction can vary, parent to child, or child to parent. Sadly, even the office of the president of the United States is called the "bully pulpit." We are talking about a major epidemic that impacts a huge portion of our society.

While we are not naive about thinking there is any simple solution, we have taught young people and adults how to respond to bullying with what we consider to be some significant successes. In this session, we'll look at how to recognize when you or someone you care about is being bullied and intervention is needed. Then, we'll look at methods for responding that can enhance the chances of stopping the bully without further retaliation. Few of us will have our lives untouched by bullying. Learning how to respond with greater effectiveness, as well as helping others to do so, is crucial to the safety of all of us.

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Burned out on Giving Encouragement
~ How to More Successfully Inspire Others to Gain Hope and Strength—Without Ending Up Exhausted

So often, when we try to support or encourage our intimate partner, another family member, a friend, a co-worker, or someone we supervise, we find that the person resists even our best efforts. We can come away drained, feeling that we are doing all the "work." We may shift from feeling supportive to irritated, angry, or defeated. If it's someone close to in our family, our efforts to support may turn into nagging or outright criticism.

This workshop will focus on how common ways of giving support actually cause resistance. We will practice how to respond to people who need encouragement in ways that are respectful of their autonomy and ensure that we don't inadvertently disempower them. Using the skills learned, others are more likely to be increasingly conscious for their own choices and we can also be more aware of making sure that our encouragement doesn't turn into an attempt to convince or control the other person. It is freeing for both/all parties involved and greatly enhances the chances that the person who has been discouraged or resistant to change will become more self-motivated to deal with the issues that have been holding her or him back.

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Reclaiming Civility — The Real Article, Not a "False Front"

Underneath the rampant amount of bullying we are facing in our schools, homes, and workplaces, lies another source of our problems. Civility, has, to a great degree, disappeared in many environment: K-12 schools to community colleges and universities; from people on the street who bump into each other to people in office cubicles; from board and faculty meetings to city council meetings. Rudeness often reigns. We consider the issue of civility to be a separate issue from micro-inequities, criticism, and bullying. The reason is that there is a simple basic consideration that used to be thought of as "politeness" that has been rejected by millions of people. In some cases it's because politeness can seem dishonest—nice to your face and gossip behind your back. Another reason civility has fallen by the wayside comes from the stress people feel in our high-paced world, both at work and at home. It seems there isn't time to stop and thank someone or say a genuine, "How are you?" and have time to even wait for an answer.

At the same time, current data demonstrates that a person can feel better for months after one time of getting heartfelt appreciation. Couples who treat each other with genuine respect in small daily interactions are much less likely to separate or get divorced. We'll look at how to confront incivility without becoming uncivil ourselves. We’ll also work on how to be civil, in the "little ways," but do it in a genuine, honest fashion instead putting on a veneer of politeness. Genuine civility can be surprisingly powerful and inspirational, transforming relationships. 

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Track 4 — Practice Groups for Personal & Professional Growth

We offer practice groups for people who want to work together to enhance their non-defensive communication skills. Some are open to anyone who wants to participate and people can work on any personal or professional issue they wish. Some of these groups have a specific common interest, such as parenting, mediation, or leadership. The interests may be even narrower, such as a group for parents of children with special needs, or parents whose children are now adults. We may offer a group for for Collaborative Family Law professionals. In addition, we also facilitate groups that consist entirely of people from one organization and are not open to the public. Most practice groups are offered as webinars, which makes them much more accessible. We do also do local in-person practice groups in certain cities. Confidentiality of people in all practice groups is strictly honored.

The practice groups are held once a month and are very experiential. We simply take one issue after another and apply both the Reciprocity Principle and PNDC skills, working to map out how change attitudes and behaviors in dealing with needed conversations and difficult issues. Our experience is that people learn a great deal from each other in this process. Most groups agree to work together for three- to six-months and then decided whether to continue or not. Some personal and professional groups have gone to much greater depth, continuing for years, in a few cases for up to a decade. If you'd like to set one up for a group you belong to, let us know.     
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We offer practice groups for people who want to work together on personal and/or professional skill building by applying PNDC skills to the specific issues participants bring to the sessions. Confidentiality of people in all practice groups is strictly honored and unless a group is in full agreement no webinar sessions are taped for any reason. The practice groups are held once a month and we work to map out how to approach needed conversations and difficult issues. Groups make a six-month commitment to enhance skill building. Sharon has over fourteen year of experience facilitating sregular monthly practice groups for professionals andmore than 20 years experience with personal growth groups. All Session are strictly confidential and are not taped.

We offer both open enrollment groups and facilitate practice sessions for people in exiting professional or personal groups. Please contact us if you'd are in an existing group for which you'd like to set up a practice session series.

Below is the list of Current Groups available for "open enrollment." Each of the Four Practice Groups are limited to 12 people in the interest of creating a quality experience.

1. Personal Growth

This group is open to anyone interested in working on her/his personal growth. While the focus is on personal growth, you can bring family, friend, work or any other kind of issue you'd want to work on. The application of PNDC skills to an issue in one type of relationship often translate well to issues others might one of theirrelationships. For example, a work issue invoving supervision can involve attitudes and skills sets that apply to parenting issues and vice-versa. Sharon Strand Ellison will facilitate this practice series.
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2. Parents of Adult "Children"

Many parents find themselves struggling with their relationships with their adult children. Many adult children still need and/or expect their parents to contribute financially. Due to the current job market, millions of adult children are now living at home with their parents. The difficulties are multi-fascited. As the parent, you may have been used to exerting some control over your child and now feel frustrated by the loss of control. Adult children often still expect to be "taken care of" as the were when younger and may not help with the dishes or other chores when at "home" with their parents. In too many cases, based on how the two-way parent child relationship developed over many years, the offspring may not only not contribute, but might be resistant to doing their share or even of being appreciative of support given by the parents. As parents, we also want to be close to our "kids" and so are afraid, now that they are adults, that if we say or do the "wrong" thing, we will "lose" them. They will just not stay as connected as we would hope. This practice session will focus on specific issues and how to keep confidence and set clear boundaries, as well as how to listen to our children's adult views and feelings, even resentments from the past with both an open heart and strong spine. Sharon Strand Ellison & her Daughter Ami Atkinson Combs will facilitate this practice series.
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3. Collaborative Family Law Professionals

This group is open to attorneys, coaches and financial planners in the field of Collaborative Family Law. The focus will be on working with client cases, past or present, and enhancing relationships among collaborative teams. We'll work on issues about how to honor the needs of each of the parties and their own decision making process, while keeping a "safe container" that holds to the tenets of collaborative practice. We'll walk through difficult conversations and "unpack" underlying issues with clients who are trying to manipulate or control the system—and/or are in power struggle with each other. We'll then brainstorm together to create specific questions, feedback, and boundaries that can be used to turn the situation around. Participants can also focus on stress points with other collaborative professionals, and what they can change themselves to help resolve the issue. Sharon Strand Ellison will be the facilitator of this practice series.
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4. Mediators & Other ADR Professionals

This group is open to anyone in the field of mediation or other forms of ADR. The focus will be similar to what we do in the collaborative practice group. We'll focus will be on working with actual and/or hypothetical cases to look at what might have been done differently in "cases gone wrong" as well as to practice the use of non-defensive methods to plan how to handle various situations in the present. The work can focus on relationships with clients where there is a single mediator or forms of alternative dispute resolution that require interactions with other professionals as well as clients.
Sharon Strand Ellison will be the facilitator of this practice series.

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Track 5 — Coaching & Consulting

We offer personal coaching for individuals, parents, couples, and whole families, as well as coaching and executive consulting for professionals at all levels of an organization, as well as teams. In addition, we do hands-on interventions with teams and departments in organizations to analyze seemingly unresolvable issues and facilitate more productive skills for achieving goals and maintaining positive relationships.

We have coaches available who are highly competent to in other fields as well as being PNDC trainers. Thus, we can provide coaching and consulting on a wide range of topics/issues/skills, including: management, team building, change management, cultural competence, client relationships, alternative dispute resolution, couple, parent-child and "family of origin relationships," ethics, spirituality, self-esteem, and so on.

Our way of working balances being very direct, informal, and supportive. We believe that learning new attitudes and skills requires a good bit of laughter along the way, while respecting the challenge most of us face when stretching to grow. We can help you select an available coach who might best serve your needs.

For inquiries, please Contact Us and give a brief description of what you would like the focus of the coaching to be.

Track 6 — Personal & Professional Growth Inventories

1. The Self-Evaluation Learning FormulaSELF Inventory

Measure Your Defensive and Non-Defensive Traits & Map Out a Plan for Personal and/or Professional Change

Sharon Strand Ellison created SELF — a Self-Evaluation Learning Formula that gives each person a picture of their own unique system of interactions between 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? Or, We might mark ourselves high on being demanding, but low on responsiveness to others needs. Here we might uncover a double standard. Participants will have colorful self-portrait rich with information. Best yet, all the information about our characteristics and patterns gives us a blueprint and a guide for empowering self-change.
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2. Powerful Non-Defensive Leadership Inventory
Evaluate Leadership Strengths & Weaknesses & Map Out a Plan to Enhance Skill-Sets

Using a color-coded wheel chart that demonstrates the balance of assertive and receptive non-defensive characteristics, participants will answer a questionnaire designed to draw out information about each person's areas of strength and weakness with regard to leadership attitudes and skills. We'll compare questionnaire results to the characteristics on the wheel for each participant. Then we'll work together, using each person's examples to uncover what has blocked her/him from developing key beliefs, attitudes and skill sets essential to leadership. This work brings together elements from The Reciprocity Principle and PNDC skills.  See Calendar for Current Listings

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1. SELF — Self-Evaluation Learning Formula

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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.
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2. Powerful Non-Defensive Leadership Inventory
Evaluate Leadership Strengths & Weaknesses & Map Out a Plan to Enhance Skill-Sets

Using a color-coded wheel chart that demonstrates the balance of assertive and receptive non-defensive characteristics, participants will answer a questionnaire designed to draw out information about each person's areas of strength and weakness with regard to leadership attitudes and skills. We'll compare questionnaire results to the characteristics on the wheel for each participant. Then we'll work together, using each person's examples to uncover what has blocked her/him from developing key beliefs, attitudes and skill sets essential to leadership. This work brings together elements from The Reciprocity Principle and PNDC skills.     —See Calendar for Curent Listings

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Track 7 — Changing Blueprints ~ Changing Reality
                    ~This program has strong links to Core Concepts programs

The System We Use to Create Our Own Life Experiences

A Note from Sharon: 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 have taught in this training program for decades. I show how we create the "reality" of our human relationships in essentially the same way we create a loaf of bread, by putting certain ingredients together. The specific "ingredients" we put together become a "concept" or picture of what we believe each kind of common human experience will be like. The concept we create becomes a blueprint that maps out how we will actually experience everything from love to success, responsibility to freedom, from eating to exercise. We even have blueprints for how we experience various environments, from being alone to being in groups, from being in a city to being in the country or the wilderness.

We use these blueprints to create what is essentially a virtual reality. If we change any part of one of these blueprints we have the potential to perceive and experience the world in a totally different way. One of the many things such changes can do is to reduce the need for becoming defensive, thus eliminating many needless power struggles. In this training we'll go through a series of steps to look at how what goes into creating these blueprints and how to make desired changes in them. The essence of who we are at at our core is not altered, we simply have access to information that can give us the ability to take quantum leaps in our efforts to fulfill our potential.     See Calendar for Current Listings 

Click Here to Show/Hide Changing Blueprints Changing Reality Program Description


This material is based on Sharon Strand Ellison's forthcoming book by the same title. She is the only person who facilitates the Blueprint sessions. While arguments have gone on for centuries about the role of various aspects of "nurture" versus "nature" in shaping human experience, Sharon demonstrates in detail her theory for how we take an active role in creating our own reality. She shows how we each have created a uniquely personal "blueprint," beyond that we create "group" blueprints — for couples, families, work teams, community organizations, any group that has an "identity" as a sub-culture. We also create blueprints for broader groups for religions, races, and nations, as well as for humanity at a global level. In fact, the entire War Model for communication outlined in Sharon's book, Taking the War Out of Our Words, is actually based on a "global blueprint," — a world-view based on a" survival of the fittest" mentality which dictates that Power Struggle is essential to achieving our goals. Personal blueprints we create will either be be driven by power struggle, and result in no-win choices that damage our relationships, or they will be balanced and create more reciprocal relationships.


Only instead of using ingredients that include flour and water, we put together specific sets of Values, Emotions, Reasoning, and Behaviors — VERB Elements.

In this training, Sharon will demonstrate, in detail, how we create a web of interconnected blueprints so that it becomes an "air-tight" reality. we'll look at: (1) the four-step process by which we create these blueprints at a very young age, (2) how many of our blueprints create no-win choices by pairing together elements than give us something we need, with something that is damaging to us, and (3) The process by which we can bring our blueprints a balance that promotes healing and growth.

new ways to listen to ourselves and others and find the blueprints hidden in every sentence.

In the two-day version of this training, participants will have an opportunity to go through a process that facilitates their ability to uncover an early childhood core blueprint of their own. process also gives us tools for listening to others at a much deeper level. In keeping with the phrase, "Information is power," understanding how we create blueprints for that shape the reality of our experience opens the door to systemic changes that allow us to experience life more fully.

In this training, Like the veins in a leaf, they are there, but often not noticed. Participants can also work with childhood stories and map out their own blueprints. Once visible, the blueprint can also be a map for change and empowerment.


1. Examining four steps for creating core blueprints that happen early in life

2. Using diagrams to demonstrate how blueprints can create no-win choices

3. Identifying out kind of very specific changes need to happen to make a blueprint with no win choices built in become a blueprint that support hoistic functioning — healing and growth.

4. Learning how to listen to ourselves and others to uncover blueprints more easily.

5. Mapping out a core blueprint for each participant

Length of Various Options:

1. Standard Workshop: This workshop is offered only as a two-day program due to the depth of material and amount of time needed to facilitate the experience of map out blueprints for each participant.

2. Content Only Version: This Workshop can be offered as a one-day program covering all the content included in No. 1-4 of the Objectives listed above. Essentially it covers all the information about how to create and change blueprints, but does not provide the opportunity for mapping out individual participants blueprints. The content-only version can be taken as either a workshop or a webinar.

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Track 8 — PNDC Trainers' Training Programs

For Those Interested in Being Licensed to Provide PNDC 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 consultants 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.

We are dedicated to providing thorough, high quality training for people who are committed to integrating these skills in their personal as well as professional interactions.

If you are interested you can Contact Us about the application process.Please include a brief summary of (a) why you are interested in becoming a PNDC Trainer (b) your professional background and any relevant personal information, as well as (c) whether you've taken any PNDC classes previously.

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Three Options for PNDC Trainers' Training Programs

While we are all "works in progress," teaching non-defensive communicaiton skills requires an ability to be open and vulnerable as well as very honest and direct. Given the traditional ways of communicating we have all be exposed to, this takes work and commitment. When teaching Powerful Non-Defensive Communication skills, it is very obvious to the participants when we fail to adhere to the principles and practices ourselves. Therefore, we are committed to offering in-depth, thorough training programs in order to maintain a high standard for the quality of trainers we certify. Beyond the certification to teach PNDC, our experience has been that people who go through this rigorous training program find it personally life-changing, and that it also gives them skills sets that are invaluable in all their professional relationships.

Tier I: Basic PNDC Trainer's Training Program

The requirements include completing, by webinar or live workshop the following programs:
See Calendar for Curent Listings of pre-Requisite Courses Listed Below

Track I ~ Core Concepts: 3 of the 14 2-Hour Sessions; Total Hours: 6
~ We also encourage people to take as many of these sessions as possible as they help internalize the understanding of how beliefs about 12 core human experience impact people's lives

Track II ~ PNDC Skill Sets: 4 Courses, 12 Hours Each, Total Hours: 48
PNDC Introductory Workshop
PNDC Questions
PNDC Statements
PNDC Predictions (Limit Setting)

Track III ~ Topic Focused Sessions: 3 Required Sessions, 2 hours each; Total Minimum Hours: 6
Eliminating Our Own Victim Mind-Set
Freeing Ourselves of Old, Internal, Self-Defeating Scripts
How do We Stop Giving Negative People so Much Power
~ We also encourage people to take as many of these sessions as possible as they help internalize the skills needed to apply the process to a wide range of situations.

Track IV ~ PNDC Practice Group: 11 Monthly Required Sessions, 3 hours each; Total Hours: 33
The purpose of this group is to develop your own skills for use in personal and professional relationships prior to beginning to teach the skills.

Track V ~ Not Required

Track VI ~ Coaching & Consulting: Minimum 6 individual sessions over an 11 month period; total Hours: 9

Track VII ~ Personal & Professional Inventories             

See Calendar for Curent Listings of Pre-Requisite Courses Listed Above

The week of training people in the program how to teach PNDC not be listed on the calendar—it will be scheduled for specific groups.

Track VIII ~ Trainers' Training Program:

Part One: A 7-Day Retreat, 8 Hours per day: Total hours 57
This consists of 3 hours in the morning, 3 in the afternoon, with a two hour afternoon break and 2 hours in the evening.

Part Two: A 1.5 hour presentation for by webinar for a condensed version of key information about the (1) The War Model for communication, (2) Introducing the PNDC Model, (3) PNDC Questions, (4) PNDC Statements, and (5) PNDC Predictions.

Part Three: Sharon or another PNDC trainer will review our video with you and provide feedback for further honing your skills. Total Hours: 2

102   Total Hours for Course Work Prior to Trainers' Training Week Long Retreat:   
         Breakdown of hours: 25.5 hours per quarter ~ 6.4 hours per month

61     Total Hours for Trainers' Training Retreat, Presentation & Debrief                        
          61 Hours in one week; Hours in one week

163  Total Training Hours

Tier II: Advanced PNDC Trainer's Training Program

Requirements: All of Requirements for Tier I, plus:

Track I ~ Core Reciprocity Concepts: Additional 11 programs, 2 hours each: Total hours 22
Track III ~ Topic Focused Sessions: Additional 3 Sessions, 2 hours each; Total Minimum Hours: 6
Track V ~ Changing Blueprints, Changing Reality: Additional Webinar or Workshop: Total Hours: 12
Track VII ~ Coaching & Consulting: Additional 6 Sessions, 1.5 hours each; Total Minimum Hours: 9 hours

49 Additional Pre-Retreat Training Hours for 151 Total Pre-Retreat Hours & 212 Total Hours
Breakdown of Pre-Retreat Training Hours: 37.75 hours per quarter; 9.5 hours per month

Tier III: Masters' PNDC Trainer's Training Program

Requirements: To become a PNDC Master Trainer requires taking all the available courses, doing additional retreats, and having a minimum of teaching 25 PNDC courses, plus getting additional coaching. For Master Training programs, we issue invitiations to people who have shown outstanding skill.

All three options for PNDC Trainers' Training programs will include participants learning effective teaching and facilitation methods, such as:

(1) How to integrate the use of story
(2) Presentation of concepts
(3) Role-Playing
(4) Matwork
(5) Giving feedback to participants
(6) Responding to any disruptive participant
(7) Trainers will also practice teaching all of the skills sets

Training Materials

Participants will receive training materials including: Taking the War Out of Our Words book, a download of the unabridged book, read by Sharon Strand Ellison, The audio-book, Taking Power Struggle Out of Parenting, and the CD PNDC Principles and Practices. They will also receive an extensively detailed training manual that covers key points to make with every portion of the training program and directions related to the seven elements essential to effective facilitation listed above. They will also receive power points for the PNDC Introductory Workshop.

Options for taking the courses

We find it somewhat preferable to have participants go through all of the trainings together as a group becuse (a) they can work together to support each other, and (b) it functions as an immersion program which can be helpful for internalizing the information and strengthening skill sets. That said, some people learn better with longer periods in between sessions to absorb concepts and practice skills. Also, we also support people would not able to do the whole training in a one-year period. We do not want the program to be structured in a way that excludes potentially fine trainers. We also have partial scholarships for those who need them.

For Questions or to Request an Application

We are happy to answer any questions you have and to have an initial interveiw and take applications for the PNDC Trainers Training program. Please contact us at Contact Us and put PNDC Trainers' Training in the subject line and we'll schedule an initial conversation.

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