PNDC for Independent Consultants, Firms, & Coaches

Using This Information Packet: This packet includes (1) an overview of the training; (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) a partial client list; and (4) comments from consultants and coaches.

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 Consultants
Comments from Professionals in Corporate Settings
Numerical Evaluations from One Fortune 500 Company
Comments from Participants from One Fortune 500 Company

See more about Training Options on the Menu Bar under Topics

Training Context & Overview

Introduction from Landing Page: Whether offering services in the area of technology, management, team-building, cultural competence, or strategic planning, consultants are often in the position of providing training for people who have been mandated to attend and may be highly resistant to learning the skills being presented. Even when people are motivated to learn, they often are resistant at various phases in the process. In addition, consultants are not always welcomed by salaried employees. Bridging the gap so that people involved in coaching and/or training programs are receptive is key to the consultants success.

More . . . Traditional communication methods are simply outdated and ineffective. Many of the currently accepted communication techniques used by consultants actually prompt defensiveness, however subtly, rather than defuse it.

Participants will gain a deeper understanding for how traditional methods of communication, built on the “rules of war,” systemically create and accelerate power struggle, as well as gain an understanding about the physiology and dynamics of defensiveness. In addition, they will examine common pitfalls when using and/or teaching communication methods such as active listening and “I messages." Included in the training is a section on how common methods of encouragement can inadvertently prompt others to become entrenched in their own resistance. Next, participants will learn non-defensive communication skills for:

—Asking questions that are disarming and get at the core of an issue quickly

—Giving feedback using a three-step process which increases the likelihood that people receiving it (in coaching or training programs) will feel respected, become more open to listening, and actually value the feedback

—Stating facts, opinions, and beliefs without trying to convince others to agree, so that instead of alienating people, they become inspired and motivated to learn and change, and

—Making predictions that (a) create clear boundaries, prompting people to become more accountable and competent, and/or (b) give them an opportunity to consider the impact of their choices, on others and on themselves, as well as to make more productive decisions.

These skills are vital for consultants and coaches because along with the essential need for creating a productive learning environment, a consultant's or coach's success will also be dependent on how well he or she models the skills being taught. In many cases, at least some of the skills can also be taught directly to clients. Beyond learning “techniques,” consultants and coaches will learn a method for natural spontaneous communication that is highly effective, with skill sets that can be used immediately. In the process, consultants can demonstrate a level of presence and competence that generates ongoing working relationships and builds strong learning communities.

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

Along with providing training for consultants and coaches, Sharon works as a consultant and trainer for professionals in more than a dozen fields, including business and corporate, law, healthcare, education, finance, government, mediation, mental health and nonprofit. Her clients include:

  • Nordstrom
  • Hewlett Packard
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • Wells Fargo
  • Weyerhaeusr
  • General Dynamics
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Shell Oil
  • Sheraton
  • BioMarker
  • Pharmaceuticals Inc
  • Stanford University
  • UCSF Medical School
  • UC Berkeley
  • Roche Molecular Diagnostics
  • Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital
  • Howmet Corp Winsted Machining Center
  • Precision Castparts
  • United Way
  • Non-Profit Leadership and Training Center
  • Leadership Mountainview
  • Ernst and Young
  • The Women’s Funding Network, including an international program for women of color
  • The United States Department of Justice
  • Los Angeles Superior Court
  • The Smithsonian
  • The International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Resort Condominiums International
  • Aegis Capital Management
  • International Game Technology (IGT)

Sharon has been a keynote speaker for the Northern California Mediation Association; the Law Societies of Canada, national bi-annual conference for judges and attorneys; government ministers in Manitoba, Canada; and the Centre for Dispute Resolution in London, England. Sharon has been an invited guest speaker at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, the oldest social commentary club in the United States.

In the vital area of cultural competence, Sharon has provided training programs 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.

Comments from Consultants

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

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

Every team I work with struggles with defensiveness — which ultimately gets in the way of becoming a truly high performing team. Sharon's tools help both individuals and teams to break out of defensive patterns and to learn more authentic and productive ways of communicating. In my ten years of studying communication systems, Sharon's is the most powerful and potentially transformative work I've come across.

—Jane Grossman, M.A., Team Effectiveness Consultant

As a teacher and a coach, I have found that my work with Powerful Non-Defensive Communication has been invaluable. Sharon both teaches and models PNDC in a way that I find challenging and exciting. Her ability to go to the heart of any issue that comes up inspires me. I have learned much from her about how to hone my own perceptions and give effective feedback to students and clients so that they can learn to communicate in ways that are more authentic and effective.

 —Vicki Dello Joio, Qigong Master and Life-Skills Coach

Sharon Ellison is a superb coach and teacher.  Her years of experience and professional training, combined with her keen insights and understanding of human behavior, bring tremendous depth and sophistication to her work.  I am a better coach, a better consultant, and a better human being as a result of Sharon's influence and teaching.

—Teresa Edmondson, CEO Edmondson Consulting

Taking your workshop has made a world of difference in my management skills. As the owner/manager of two women’s clothing stores, 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, Palo Alto, CA

Comments from Professionals in 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

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

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

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.

See Also Complete List of Participants Comments from Professionals in: Business & Corporate; Education: K-12, Community College, University; Finance; Government; Health Care; Mediation; Mental Health; Non-Profit; and/or Women's Organizations.

Numerical Evaluations from One Fortune 500 Company

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

Comments from Participants from One Fortune 500 Company

The following comments represent the reactions of people across job functions and cultural backgrounds.

 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.

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.

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

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

Back to Top

Quick Links:

Newsletter Sign-Up

Books, CD's & Downloads

Calendar of Events

Training Options

Stories, Tips & More

Hear CD Excerpts

Video - YouTube

Read Articles

Hear Interviews

Contact Sharon to Schedule An Event


Sharon Ellison is a superb coach and teacher.  Her years of experience and professional training, combined with her keen insights and understanding of human behavior, bring tremendous depth and sophistication to her work.  I am a better coach, a better consultant, and a better human being as a result of Sharon's influence and teaching.

—Teresa Edmondson, CEO Edmondson Consulting, Dallas, TX







Calendar Site Map Contact Us