Welcome to HEN - Transforming Conflict for our Health, Environment, Negotiation

HEN is published each month by Julia Menard:
Helping the Workplace Engage - One Tough Conversation at a Time!

HEN arrives at the full moon - 
because light transforms darkness.   

Full Moon: September 19, 2013 - Year 11, Issue 9
Table of Contents:

1. HEALTH - Shame Can't Survive

Brene Brown is a shame and vulnerability researcher who’s become well-known for two TedTalks that went viral in 2010 and 2012. In her second TedTalk, she highlights the importance of seeing failure as a learning opportunity and not as something to be ashamed of. If we see a stumbling block as the end of the road and as shameful, we lose the ability to learn from it – to re-evaluate – to move forward in a new way.

When we get sick, we (or others) can think of it as a “failure.” 

Since failure and vulnerability are so closely tied, it makes sense that we’d mix these all up. I went through a very intense time in my mid-twenties when I was definitely sick. And, to today, it is still difficult for me to speak about it. I realize I don’t want people to “see me as weak" (synonymous with vulnerable). I also have a relative who suffers from addiction. Whenever he stumbles, I do tend to think of it as a failure – as in shameful.

Yet, Winston Churchill suffered from a chronic illness – depression. It was an illness he “failed” at time and again. He seemed to have side-stepped shame and instead allowed his multiple failures at “health” to teach him. His illness certainly seemed to have taught him a lot about failure. Here is a sampling: 

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

“If you're going through hell, keep going.”

“Failure is not fatal ... it's the courage to continue that counts”

Brene Brown says it takes courage to be vulnerable:

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”  

Failure leads to vulnerability leads to the courage to learn from failure, dis-ease, pain.

That was my experience last week as well, as I faced the pain of the Heiltsuk people from Bella Bella. It took courage for all of us to be present to that pain together. They let me see their pain and I allowed myself to be affected by it.

That was vulnerability and courage.

If you know someone who is going through some dis-ease (pain, illness) – be aware that there may be shame attached. So, think of this quote – and gift it forward!

“If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.”
… Brene Brown

2. ENVIRONMENT - How Long Have You Lived Here? 

I had the privilege recently of working with a First Nation community in Bella Bella - on Canada’s Pacific Central Coast. Meeting members of the Heiltsuk Nation is the first opportunity I’ve had to interact in a meaningful way with a First Nation – and what an education it was!

One story I’m carrying away is a moment in the coffee room of the place where I was setting up for a meeting in Bella Bella. There was a young Heiltsuk woman helping me set up – and in a casual exchange I asked her:  

“So how long has your family been here?”

She paused. She looked off in space – looked back at me – and laughed. She said she wasn’t sure how to answer that. I realized in that moment what I’d already known in theory. The Heiltsuk have been in that one location for more than 10,000 years!

So, how do you answer that question?

Asking how long you have been in one place is a common way to make a connection in most communities I’ve lived in. I was basically on automatic pilot when I asked her – though I knew it wasn’t quite right when I actually said it.

Luckily she was patient with me and it made us both laugh – but there is much complexity and depth to that exchange.

I had a “felt experience” of how long someone can live in one place. It’s not just parents who have lived in relationship to the place where you live. It’s not just grandparents, or great-grandparents, or great-great-grandparents. 

We in Canada are mostly made up of immigrants. I have lived in the same neighbourhood for 15 years and I walk the Gorge Waterway almost daily. I have come to know that place, it’s changes in tides and vegetation and skies – in a way that a stranger cannot.

The Heiltsuk (and other First Peoples) have lived in the same place for thousands and thousands of years. 

The inter-generational wisdom that arises from being in the same place for 14,000 years or so is unfathomable! There is inherited knowledge of seasonal cycles and of how to harvest a wide variety of resources without harming or depleting them. They know how to manage the natural resources of the sea and land in a way that no one scientist or politican or local government public servant could ever know. 

How could they? 

This is the kind of knowledge we need to listen to in these times of depleting ozones, rainforests, clean air, water, food. 

What are the First Nations saying in your community about the environmental issues of the day? Listen!

“Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.”
… The Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso, born 1935)

3. NEGOTIATION - What's Your Conflict Style? 

I had the opportunity recently to run my Tough Conversations course. One of the exercises we do is explore the five styles of conflict.

The styles were first developed by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann and they have created an assessment tool they call the “Thomas-Kilmann Conflcit Mode Instrument.”
Their assessment outlines five different “conflict-handling modes” or ways of dealing with conflict:
  1. Competing – The degree to which an individual is assertive – focused on satisfying one’s own concerns (often at another’s expense).
  2. Accommodating – This approach is unassertive but cooperative.  Individuals who use this mode attempt to satisfy another’s goals at the expense of their own.
  3. Avoiding – This is both an unassertive and an uncooperative approach to conflict – avoiding conflict at all costs.
  4. Compromising – This style uses a bit of assertion and a bit of cooperation to find the quickest acceptable solution that only partially satisfies both parties.
  5. Collaborating – This style is both assertive and cooperative.  Individuals who use this style try to find a “win-win” outcome to completely satisfy concerns of all impacted.
For more info on the Styles, check out:

Once we reviewed the styles people were split into groups randomly. In the groups, they discussed how the conflict styles (and the beliefs that tend to go with each style) showed up in their:
  1. family of origin
  2. ethnic group
  3. organization’s culture
  4. gender
Once they reflected on those cultural influences, they then got into groups according to their own style preferences. In those groups, they shared the strengths, weaknesses, areas needing change and ways to influence that style. Each presented to the rest of the class.

The whole process took about an hour and a half. It was something tangible people took away with them and discussed even after the day was done. 

The conflict styles enabled them to gain more insight about themselves and how to work with others. The styles can look fairly simple – we’ve all encountered each one in our daily lives. 

The power is in putting the words to something that was intuited.

“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”
… Doris Lessing


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Julia Menard, B.A., Cert. Con. Res., P.C.C.
Leadership & Conflict Coaching, Mediating, & Training


  • Are you facing any tough conflicts at work?
  • Are you unclear about how to proceed through the tough stuff?
  • Are you wanting to make time to focus on creating stronger relationships at work?
Then consider investing time in learning more powerful ways to engage conflict productively. If you think I might be able to help – please contact me.  It would be my pleasure to have a conversation with you to see if I can!

In the meantime, have a look at what I have to offer these days:

Making Tough Conversations Great!

10 week self-study course with Facebook Group Community
COST: $95 (+HST)

If you’d like an easy way to educate yourself more about making tough conversations great, check out my e-course

The Making Tough Conversations Great e-course is sent to you via email every week for 10 weeks. Each week you receive a new lesson and get to focus on one key concept and a few practice ideas. It takes the vast area of “negotiation” and “tough conversations” and breaks it down into manageable chunks.

Topics in the e-course include:
  • Focusing on your Best Intentions for your Tough Conversation
  • Leading with Observations (Separating Fact from Fiction)
  • Linking feelings to Needs
  • Converting resistance (Winning Yourself a Hearing!)
  • Deferring solutions to the end
There is also a private online coaching group, where you can ask me questions, engage in discussions, share your struggles, and celebrate your successes!
To get going on this course, just email me and ask, or register online.

2. Stay Cool - Through Conflict!

Audio recordings, e-book, and audio tools with Julia Menard & Judy Zehr

COST:  $149 (+applicable tax)

We're offering Stay Cool - Through Conflict as an e-course, with a full course e-book and recorded sessions. We use concepts from stress science to give you the tools you need to hang onto yourself in the face of conflict. 
Click here to find out more and to register.


Various estimates peg the average time managers spend dealing with conflict between 25 to 60 percent. Some of my best clients are managers and leaders who value relationships and invest time and attention into their relationships. They know this pays off in big dividends.

Yet most leaders receive minimal - or no – training, support or guidance on how to analyze and manage conflicts productively.

If you'd like to strengthen your communication/conflict management skills, I offer one-on-one coaching for executives as one way to achieve that goal. Having someone support you for a specific period of time as you clarify your learning goals and then start to enact them, is an effective and efficient way to change what you want to.  

If you would like to set up a time to talk more, just reply to this email with "Coaching" in the subject line.

4. Local WORKSHOPS in Victoria on Tough Conversations

Available for organizations and individuals in Victoria, BC

  • Does conflict make you break out in a sweat?
  • When it doesn’t go well, can you feel a tension so thick you can cut it with a knife?
This workshop, like the e-course of the same name, offers a practical model for how to start and sustain a collaborative conversation. It incorporates interpersonal communication concepts from Interest-based Negotiation, Non-Violent Communication, and Clear Leadership. Tools include:

Topics include:
  • How to Get Out of Your Own Way
  • Separate Fact from Fiction
  • Link Feelings to Needs

“Do not look upon this world with fear and loathing. Bravely face whatever the gods offer.” 
… Morihei Ueshiba

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