PNDC for Businesses and Corporations

Using This Information Packet: This packet includes (1) an overview of the content; (2) short biographies for Sharon Strand Ellison and her daughter, Ami Atkinson Combs, who are the primary master teachers of the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication™ process developed by Sharon; (3) comments from participants in business and corporate settings; and (4) a summary of numerical scores from 495 participants in one Fortune 500 company, along with some unsigned comments from the evaluation forms.

The overview starts with the introduction from the landing page and then continues with more information. You can start with "More . . ." if you've already read the introduction. You can also return to the landing page to access additional information about workshops, training topics, conferences, and coaching.

Training Context & Overview
Biographical Information
Partial Client List
Comments from Professionals in Business & Corporate Settings
Evaluations from One Fortune 500 Company
Some Unsigned Comments from Participants

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Training Context & Overview

Introduction from Landing Page: Dramatic changes in recent decades, including becoming more diverse and team driven, have made traditional communication methods obsolete and ineffective in the workplace. Training in communication is moving out of the category of a “soft skill.” Data confirms that micro-inequities—small insults that do damage—play a major role in polarizing team members and creating often-unresolved conflicts. In high pressure situations, a wide range of such "insults" often occur, eroding employee performance and morale, which can have many levels of costly impact on retention. Thus, transparency combined with trust continue to gain increasing recognition as a key factors in building the kind of strong working relationships that enhance organizational success.

More . . .Using the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication process Sharon has developed gives people in small business and corporate environments the ability to eliminate defensiveness and needless power struggles that undermine productivity, cause divisiveness among team members, and cause friction with clients. Supervisors will be in a position to use their authority effectively, creating understanding across lines of personal, as well as cultural, difference. Team members can learn skills for responding to each other, as well as even the most difficult customers/clients without getting defensive. Managers and employees alike can be honest while showing respect, take initiative and perform with excellence, thereby fostering a strong sense of community and loyal clients.

Biographical Information

Sharon Strand Ellison, an internationally recognized communication consultant, is an award-winning speaker and the author of Taking the War Out of Our Words. Sharon is a pioneer in the development of methods for eliminating defensiveness and was a nominee for the Leadership for a Changing World Award, sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the Advocacy Institute. She speaks at conferences and provides training programs for corporations and small businesses, as well as professionals from more than a dozen fields, including law, healthcare, education, and government. She also speaks at national and international conferences. While she has developed cutting-edge theory, her methods are hands-on, practical and straightforward. She is honest and direct, motivating people tp take accountability and be proactive in their skill development.

Sharon's clients include Kaiser Permanente; Nordstom, Regional Diversity Managers; Wells Fargo; the United States Department of Justice, Stanford University, The Smithsonian, and the Centre for Dispute Resolution, London, England.

Ami Atkinson Combs, Director of IPNDC, is a graduate of Mills College and co-author of the audiobook Taking Power Struggle Out of Parenting. As Sharon’s daughter, she has been an active participant in the years of discussion as Sharon envisoned and refined the PNDC Communication model. Ami has also done psychosocial research at Stanford Medical School.

Ami’s innate understanding of systemic patterns in communication is alsp a cornerstone of her work with organizations, helping individual teams as well as the organization as a whole to strengthen their communication internally and with their client base. She offers coaching and trainings for educational institutions, nonprofits, corporations, and community organizations. Her clients include: General Dynamics, CA; Lockheed-Martin, CA; the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Toronto, Canada; and CCG Systems, VA.

Sharon and Ami are dedicated to creating leadership with integrity and building strength of community in every environment.

Partial Client List

  • Lockheed Martin
  • Nordstrom
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Roche Molecular Diagnostics
  • Silicon Graphics
  • Howmet Corp Winsted Machining Center
  • Wells Fargo
  • General Dynamics
  • Genoa Restaurant
  • Shell Oil
  • Aegis Capital Management
  • Sheraton
  • BioMarker Pharmaceuticals Inc,
  • Cassis Leaf & Petal Boutiques
  • Crossroads Trading Company
  • CCG Systems
  • International Game Technology (IGT)
  • St. Cloud Small Business Association
  • Precision Castparts
  • Resort Condominiums International
  • Xerox
  • Weyerhaeuser
  • Forum of Executive Women
  • The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco

In the vital area of cultural competence, training programs have been provided for organizations such as Hewlett Packard, Harassment, Discrimination and Diversity Training (in conjunction with HP attorneys); Nordstrom Nationwide Regional Diversity Managers; and the UC Berkeley Staff Diversity Facilitator Network. Sharon often works with a team of outstanding consultants, including professionals working in the field of diversity and cultural competence. She is dedicated to enhancing performance, creating leadership with integrity and building strength of community in every environment.

See More Complete Client List

Comments from Professionals in Business & Corporate Settings

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication is the missing link that bridges the gap between our desire to communicate effectively and our ability to actually do so. The immediacy and ease of application to difficult professional and personal situations is remarkable.  

Robert Brownstone, Corporate Educational Specialist, Fortune 500 Company, Silicon Valley, CA

As a leadership consultant I have pioneered the introduction of global diversity and leadership development programs in the US, Canada, Africa, and South and Central America for companies such as Shell Oil, Hewlett Packard and Proctor and Gamble. I have extensive training in the Powerful Non-Defensive Communication process developed by Sharon Strand Ellison and have found it to be invaluable in my work. The process offers tools for removing obstacles to understanding across lines of differences in viewpoint, position, vested interests, and culture. Using these non-defensive skill sets, people are able to connect on a deeper level and engage in a creative problem solving process that resolves difficult issues and addresses the widest range of needs possible.

I am currently the Talent and Development Consultant and Executive Coach for the South American Region at EY (Ernst and Young). I brought Sharon in as part of our talent management process to provide training for managers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The focus was on giving and receiving feedback more effectively during performance reviews. The training she provided was extremely impactful, participants were able to apply the skills immediately and talked about the positive results they got when giving feedback in ways that inspired employees to receive feedback instead of resisting it and be motivated to make suggested changes. I highly recommend Sharon’s work to any organization that wants to enhance performance.

—Mercedes Martin, Talent Development Consultant and Executive Coach, South America Region, EY (Ernst and Young)

An innovative and practical process with unlimited potential. Ellison has developed a powerful method which will strengthen interpersonal relationships, increase organization effectiveness, and contribute greatly to building a more productive and harmonious society.

Diana Chesterfield, Corporate Diversity Affairs Manager, Nordstrom

First of all, thank you for your excellent presentation. I found the materials and exercises informative and interesting. Too many HR type formats are devoid of real content, often “packaged” in a way for wide audiences. They lack application in a particular environment. Yours, however, seemed quite appropriate and we didn’t just work with artificial models but found a real live opportunity to observe and practice your techniques. I found your style to be very professional and dynamic, and I gained a lot by watching you in action.

I also realize that the skills you advocate for non-defensive communication do not come easily. It seems like we all have a very natural response to protect and defend ourselves when we sense potential for conflict or confrontation. And we often don’t realize how we can actually trigger those events simply by assuming a defensive posture and attitude. Your method requires first recognizing when we use those behaviors and how those behaviors can get in the way of effective communication. Secondly, one needs to experience your approach to appreciate the immediate effect a non-defensive position has on the outcome of a conversation, debate, or negotiation. I can also see that you are a master of your own technique and that it will require some time and effort to learn and practice your methods. I believe the rewards are there for those who truly want to become more proficient in effective communication.

—Paul C. Watkins, VP Business Development, BioMarker Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The PNDC process I learned from Sharon enabled me to engage in and maintain a constructive dialog during an especially difficult period at work. Employing PNDC enabled me to keep the points of discussion moving forward in a neutral, non-threatening and effective way. I was able to achieve a positive outcome to a situation that I think otherwise would have devolved into typical power politics with the core conflict left unresolved. In my opinion, learning PDNC is an invaluable skill set for any professional working in the financial services industry.

—Kari Hovland, Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank

Sharon Ellison conducted a retreat on how to communicate non-defensively for all staff employees. Her style in presenting powerful principles so impacted all employees that we still reference and practice them to this day. In fact, yesterday some of our software development staff discussed how much difference practicing what they learned in the workshop was having in their daily lives, both at work and at home. I personally reference and practice on something we learned from Sharon and her book almost daily in our workplace.

Sharon’s passion and obvious expertise for her subject area are so contagious that her gentle style lends even more power to her ability to help participants grasp and embrace the changes needed in order to communicate more effectively and with greater caring. We have had many powerful presenters and learning workshops that both informed and entertained, but we have never had one that taught us so well how to be more aware of what we are doing and how to change to improve. Sharon demonstrated the ways to communicate non-defensively by "catching" us in the act, as well as using the challenges we presented from real situations in our daily activities.

Finally, as referenced earlier, the impact of what we learned has not diminished but actually increased. I cannot imagine any other investment that would pay such high returns and I have certainly never known a professional who lives and demonstrates so powerfully principles that, if practiced, change the way we relate and the quality of our working and living together.

Pamela J. Nelson, CEO, CCG Systems, Norfolk VA

My organizational development and consulting firm supports large systems change in Fortune 50 companies, foundations and progressive nonprofits. I am required to push leaders out of their comfort zone and into new territory where they re-connect with the courage required to inspire and motivate others. My training in Powerful Non-Defensive Communication has given me the tools needed to challenge and support each leader I coach. Quite simply, PNDC is a powerful tool that supports personal transformation. My practice and my clients have enjoyed tremendous success in using this highly effective communication method.

—Michael Bell, Principal, InPartnership Consulting

For many years I have coached other managers and colleagues at both Chevron and Kaiser. My coaching has focused on issues such as dealing with a difficult employee, communicating with colleagues who are peers, and building collaborative skills with teams where there are underlying conflicts that inhibit productivity. I see so much behavior in the corporate world where people feel victimized by others, avoid accountability, and pass blame. Using Powerful Non-Defensive Communication skills to ask questions that get at an issue quickly; give honest, yet respectful feedback; state opinions with clarity and power; and set effective boundaries can move employees and managers alike out of the victim-blame cycle. As I use these skills, I find that I can clarify my own position much more easily. As I coach others, I find the skills to be logical and easy to model, discuss, teach, and apply to almost any issue at hand.

—Karin Kelly Givens, National Project Manager, Kaiser Permanente, Recipient, President’s Award, Chevron, 2000

Taking your workshop has made a world of difference in my management skills. As the owner/manager of two women’s clothing boutiques, I am faced with issues regarding supervision of employees and customer issues on a daily basis. In the short time since taking the workshop I am achieving success in dealing with the people problems at work. Furthermore, my staff has noticed, is impressed, and is now coming to me for advice.  If they have a "bad" exchange they come to me to discuss how they could have handled it differently.

When staff come to me with a need around interactions with either customers or other staff, I feel I have something tangible to offer them. I feel as though I have actually become a source of wisdom at work. I see the staff feel gratitude and respect towards me and I think they feel relieved and in possession of their own self-respect.  What we all like about this process is that we don't have to make concessions.  We can be honest and yet not hurtful.

—Carol Cruikshank, Owner, Cassis and Leaf and Pedal Women's Clothing Boutiques, Palo Alto, CA

The goal of the Customized Training Department at Precision Castparts Corporation is to help our employees become not only better employees but better human beings as well. Sharon's workshops have met that goal. Our staff has responded to Sharon's training program with a high degree of enthusiasm and they learned very practical skills in a short period of time which they are able to use both at work and at home. The process she teaches can help employees develop excellent teamwork skills and strengthen family relationships as well. In fact, I think every person on the planet can benefit from the skills Sharon teaches.

Lisa Tomlin, Training Coordinator, Precision Castparts, Portland, OR

There would be much less pain, insecurity, dishonesty, etc. in our society if people learned to communicate in a non-defensive manner. Among the scientists I work with, I've seen a person's years of work come under attack, and that person coming out of it greatly hurt and definitely on the defensive. Such conflict only serves to lessen the atmosphere of scientific cooperation and creativity it takes to make a company like mine survive. Your insights on our society's ways of dealing with conflict in all avenues of life left me incredulous at how much energy we are constantly wasting in using a war-model form of communication. Your ideas mapped out a way to handle tough situations in life without having to resort to becoming involved in power struggles.

Biomedical Research Associate, Advanced Medicine, Inc., Palo Alto, CA

Your presentation was wonderful! It touched a nerve for everyone. It was well received by the more knowledgeable group members, and by those who usually criticize and challenge speakers. It was one of the best presentations in the five years the Forum of Executive Women has been in existence. 

Jeanie Wilkens, Forum of Executive Women, St. Cloud, MN

Not a day goes by that I do not reference Sharon Ellison's work. I am convinced that it is the clearest path to understanding and positive change. It is breathtaking.

—Frish Brandt, Co-owner and Director, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Sharon demonstrated a quick grasp of the needs of our individual business. She followed through with developing and implementing an appropriate training program that helped to avoid the pitfalls of habitual power games. We felt especially happy with Sharon's consulting abilities. She helped each person in our business improve communication, stressing that even staff members who do not have direct customer contact have an effect on what the customer experiences. Sharon Ellison has a valuable service to offer to all employees in businesses whose life-blood is customer satisfaction.

—Kerry DeBuse, Co-owner, Genoa, ranked Portland, Oregon's # 1 restaurant, Zagat Survey, 4 consecutive years

Evaluations from One Fortune 500 Company

Out of 495 participants, 95% gave the top two scores for having learned new skills, as well as learning new information.

Some Unsigned Comments from Participants

The concept is just brilliant and very insightful. Breathtaking from the very first words.

At first I was doubtful that this approach was realistic in the real world of modern aggressive behaviors in order to get results. By the end of this workshop I realized it was possible to be non-defensive and not be weak or timid, or giving in to the aggressor.

Class was very intensive but went extremely fast. Great, practical content.

Excellent. Ms. Ellison is brilliant, and a very effective teacher. This was a real breakthrough for me. I wasn't even aware of my own defensiveness before, and now believe I can be significantly more effective.

This is a professional survival seminar and keeping the class small is excellent for best examples. The instructor succeeds in creating an intimate atmosphere where people feel comfortable to bring real examples and honestly work toward resolutions.

This process is fantastic in connection with other management and diversity coursework. Great class!

Need to makes this a core class.

EXCELLENT! Possibly the best class I have taken through our in-house training program. Sharon was great! Fantastic instructor.

My entire life I've been trying to sell people that my opinion is fact and that they should agree with me and when they don't agree with me, then I get defensive. This class has taught me how to react more positively and not be defensive when someone doesn't agree with me.

Your instruction really helped expose the everyday "minefield" of our defenses and self-protective tendencies. The techniques are invaluable.

The workshop was not what I had anticipated. The fundamental skills and techniques are easy to follow, yet revolutionary.

The single most powerful workshop I've taken here in 16 years. Thank you for giving me so very much. What powerful tools. I love your global view.

The Institute for Powerful Non-Defensive Communication • Contact Us
Powerful Non-Defensive Communication is a trademarked name. © 1994-2017 Sharon Strand Ellison

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I cannot imagine any other investment that would pay such high returns and I have certainly never known a professional who lives and demonstrates so powerfully principles that, if practiced, change the way we relate and the quality of our working and living together.

—Pamela J. Nelson, C.E.O., CCG Systems, Norfolk VA





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