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    This is what you hear “You are late again!”  or “You keep making mistakes…FIX IT!” or “You never listen to me!” All of these statements are examples of a verbal attack. One of my personal challenges is how to deflect and master my in-the-moment reactions to verbal attacks. I don’t know about you but I can be very sensitive to unexpected and unwelcomed verbal attacks and without pausing or thinking, snap sarcastically and defend myself and sometimes with vigor. Then, I feel ashamed that I reacted so strongly given my professional study and work.

    Most of my readers and podcast listeners know me as 25-year conflict management and resolution expert. And yet, I recognize the areas of communication struggle in my personal life. When I am working as a neutral or even teaching, training, facilitating or coaching, I have mastered remaining calm in the face of verbal assaults. It is a natural part of my conflict resolution work for people to displace their anger or frustration about the person or situation, they are in conflict with and yet, I have failed to master this at home with close interpersonal relationships.

    I decided last year to purposefully pursue changing this destructive habit in my personal life. How do I catch myself in the moment from being impulsive, saying things that are hurtful or judgmental? How can I prevent a seemingly small incident from erupting into an emotionally-charged argument and see it grow into a conflict?

    I went back into my Texas Conflict Coach® podcast library to revisit the work of Luke Archer on Verbal Aikido: Manage Verbal Attacks Peacefully and Effectively. I contacted him in late 2017 to revisit his work and invite him to be a guest expert on the Challenging Workplace Behavior Summit launched in 2018. It would be to my surprise when Luke informed me, he would be in Texas training Verbal Aikido principles and techniques at Sam Houston State University (SMSU) in October 2018 during Conflict Resolution Week. This week sponsored by Gene Roberts, Director of Student Legal and Mediation Services is a colleague. He and I both served back to back as Presidents of the Texas Association for Mediators (TAM). Gene invited me to be the keynote speaker for SHSU during the week and join Luke Archer’s training. It was a serendipitous moment. I felt blessed to be part of this week and meet Luke for the first time.

    After the initial 2-day training, it was crystal clear that this would take practice and guidance by an expert. Luke offers a virtual “dojo” or practices mat to verbally spar with partners using the 3-step process we learned in training. We not only learn how to ground our basic foundation but we learn additional strategies to carry out each of the three steps. It is fun meeting people from different countries to practice around real-life examples.

    My next few blog posts will focus on my journey, stumbles, strengths and insights into mastering verbal self-defense.

    Patricia M. Porter, LCSW, ACC
    CEO and Founder
    Conflict Connections, Inc.

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  • For the past year, Conflict Connections and MH Mediate have been developing a set of resources to help people address the ten toughest behaviors at work – everything from gossip to bullying, harassment, and hostile work environments.  Our Challenging Workplace Behavior Summit featured 10 top global experts brought together over 250 conflict and human resources practitioners and yielded the definitive toolkit for challenging behaviors at work.


    All resources are designed to be extremely actionable – for each behavior we hosted two 15-20 minute programs, the first explaining the behavior and the second sharing strategies and solutions.  For each behavior we also put together a one-page summary (definition, impact, solutions, key quote), a full set of program notes, and a take-away tool.  
    The take-away tools include:

    • Engaging Passive Aggression Without Losing Your Cool (Tip sheet)
    • Diffusing Verbal Attacks (Checklist)
    • Preventing Hostile Work Environments (Checklist)
    • Escaping and Reframing Workplace Gossip (Talking Points)
    • Overcoming Time-Sucking Interruptions (Checklist)
    • Responding to Gender-Based Violence (Tip sheet)
    • Preventing and Overcoming Workplace Bullying (Tip sheet)
    • Stopping and Balancing Criticism (Talking Points)
    • Responding to Workplace Incivility (Checklist)
    • 5 Steps to a Deliberate, Non-Impulsive Reaction (Infographic Framework)

    Because we value Conflict Connections subscribers,we’re offering a discounted rate for the All Access Pass to these programs.  Instead of paying $297, if you use coupon “NewYearSpecial” you can pay just  $149 – that’s 50% off!  Discount ends on Wednesday, January 9th.


    Visit https://www.workbehavior.us/register/all-access-pass/?coupon=NewYearSpecial to go directly to the checkout page with the coupon already applied.  You will be able to create an account, pay by PayPal (use any major credit card, no account required), and get immediate access to the All Access Pass content.

    Take a look at our 10 behaviors and experts below:


    Workplace Incivility

    Sharone Bar-David, workplace incivility expert and the author of Trust Your Canary: Every Leader’s Guide to Taming Workplace Incivility, defines incivility at work and shares frameworks for managing these situations.


    Passive Aggression

    Signe Whitson, trainer and author of The Angry Smile: The New Psychological Study of Passive-Aggressive Behavior, introduces passive aggressive behaviors in the workplace and teaches techniques for overcoming them.


    Workplace Bullying

    Catherine Mattice Zundel, a founder of the National Workplace Bullying Coalition and the author of BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, explains what constitutes bullying at work and offers steps for victims, bystanders, and managers.


    Non-Stop Criticism

    Krister Ungerboeck, CEO Coach and former CEO of a global tech company, explains when criticism becomes a problem and shares powerful solutions.


    Verbal Attacks

    Luke Archer, the founder of Verbal Akido, defines verbal attacks and teaches akido-inspired tactics for diffusing them.


    Hostile Work Environments

    Rodney Klein, Training Manager at the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), clarifies the legal definition of hostile work environments and shares ways to both prevent and respond to them.


    Gender-Based Violence

    Sheerine Alemzadeh, co-founder of the Coalition Against Workplace Sexual Violence and co-founder of Healing to Action, explains gender-based violence and suggests ways to proactively address it.


    Workplace Gossip

    Peter Vajda, writer for Management Issues and coach at True North Partnering, defines workplace gossip and offers strategies to manage it.


    Time-Sucking Interruptions

    Helene Segura, author of The Inefficiency Assassin, outlines different kinds of time-sucking interruptions that reduce productivity at work and shares solutions to overcome them.


    Impulsive Reactions

    Dan Berstein, developer of MH Mediate’s Ready for Anything framework for addressing challenging behaviors, explains why we sometimes mistakenly act on gut feelings and how we can plan ahead instead.

    Where do I go to purchase the All Access Pass?
    The pass normally costs $297 but Conflict Connections subscribers can get a 50% discount, $148 off, if they use the coupon “NewYearSpecial” and purchase by Wednesday, January 9th.  Visit https://www.workbehavior.us/register/all-access-pass/?coupon=NewYearSpecial to go directly to the checkout page with the coupon already applied.  You will be able to create an account, pay by PayPal (use any major credit card, no account required), and get immediate access to the All Access Pass content.  

    If you’d like to read a bit more about the summit and experts, visit www.workbehavior.us – remember you’ll need to apply the NewYearSpecial coupon yourself to get the discount unless you use the longer direct link above.

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  • Before Thanksgiving we launched the Challenging Workplace Behavior Summit. Over 250 professionals participated to learn from our 10 top global experts, resulting in a complete toolkit for the ten toughest behaviors at work:

    • Workplace Incivility
    • Passive Aggression
    • Workplace Bullying
    • Non-Stop Criticism
    • Verbal Attacks
    • Hostile Work Environments
    • Gender-Based Violence including Sexual Harassment
    • Workplace Gossip
    • Time-Sucking Interruptions
    • Impulsive Reactions

    What tools are included in the Summit Toolkit?

    Each behavior includes two 15-20 minute video interview programs, the first focused on understanding it and the second focused on strategies to address it.  We also provide program notes (edited transcripts), behavior summaries (one-page quick-reference guides defining each behavior, explaining its impact, summarizing solutions, and including a key quote from the program), actionable take-away tools, and bonus items.
    After accessing these resources, participants can:

    • Understand the definitions, signs, and impact of challenging behaviors at work
    • Be Equipped with tools to manage and respond to the ten toughest behaviors at work
    • Feel Empowered in the face of challenging behaviors
    • Access Quick References to review summaries of the behaviors

    How can I access the Summit Toolkit?

    All toolkit items are available with the purchase of a single All Access Pass that allows an individual user to access them on-demand whenever they’d like for an entire year.  We’re giving Conflict Connections subscribers a 50% discount ending Wednesday, January 9th.  Scroll to the bottom of this e-mail to get the coupon, or keep reading to see what people are saying about the programs and the All Access Pass!
    What are people saying about the Individual Behavior Programs?

    • “This provided great insight as well as tools to equip me as a manager  This was very helpful, especially with a specific step-wise process for addressing passive aggressive behavior at work.”
      (Passive Aggression)
    • “I will be using the suggestion to offer ‘two minutes right now, or ten minutes in an hour’ right away!” 
      (Time-Sucking Interruptions)
    • Excellent discussion. Great infographic and very useful examples discussed during the presentation. Thanks.”
      (Impulsive Reactions)
    • This was excellent. Such a pervasive problem and the presenter provided great examples of strategies to address the issue.”
      (Workplace Gossip)
    • “This was a great topic…had lots of good info about the differences between ‘illegal’ hostile environment vs. toxic and/or destructive work environment, ‘the gateway drug.'”
      (Hostile Work Environments)
    • Simple and effective technique for managing verbal attacks. Nice three-step approach. Explained well.”
      (Verbal Attacks)
    • “Great speaker, great topic. Essential tools provided for changing negative behaviors and providing positive feedback.”
      (Non-Stop Criticism)
    • “Very affirming to hear of the need to address incivility even if it is being experienced by a ‘velcro’ personality. Critical for hr/admin to understand that behaviors will escalate if not addressed.”(Workplace Incivility)
    • “All three programs I tried today were really helpful. Thank you!” 
      (Workplace Incivility, Passive Aggression, and Workplace Bullying)

    What are people saying about the Toolkit as a whole?

    • “Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed and learned from the summit programs.  I thought the format was great, with a sensitive moderator bringing out the nuggets of wisdom provided by the insightful and informative speakers. I also appreciated how you broke the presentations into two parts, one delineating the ‘issue’ and one focused on strategies to address it.  I will continue to listen and learn.”
    • “I’m just reading through the materials now…they are very helpful and I’m enjoying the format of the material. Well done! “
    • “The resources are great…thanks so much!”
    • “The videos are very informative, and have already introduced quite a number of ideas and insights I had not considered previously.”

    Where do I go to purchase the All Access Pass?
    The pass normally costs $297 but Conflict Connections subscribers can get a 50% discount, $148 off, if they use the coupon “NewYearSpecial” and purchase by Wednesday, January 9th.  Visit https://www.workbehavior.us/register/all-access-pass/?coupon=NewYearSpecial to go directly to the checkout page with the coupon already applied.  You will be able to create an account, pay by PayPal (use any major credit card, no account required), and get immediate access to the All Access Pass content.  If you’d like to read a bit more about the summit and experts, visit www.workbehavior.us – remember you’ll need to apply the NewYearSpecial coupon yourself to get the discount unless you use the longer direct link above.

    Leave a Reply


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