What makes you frustrated? Wish you could address it?

There are four ways we express ourselves:

  1. Passive (people can read my mind)
  2. Aggressive (the superior being)
  3. Passive-aggressive (the stamp collector)
  4. Assertive (rights & responsibilities)

The manifesto says:

Every Human Being has the right to be treated with respect and express opinions or feelings, so the question becomes…

How can I express what I need to express, without offending?

How can I translate what I want to say into what I can safely say?

It’s not only possible to address frustrating situations – it’s encouraged.

From *quick draw responses* to *holding that difficult conversation with someone*, we have communication strategies for you, based on credible research.

Contact us if your team could use more

Open and Honest Communication

Avoiding Sexual Harassment in 2019

Confused about sexual harassment
Listen to the article

Are you aware of common behaviors that could be considered sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment involves any behavior, that is sexual in nature,  and can reasonably be understood as unwelcome  or unwanted.

Here are a few behaviors to avoid:

  1. Rating another person on an attractiveness scale (“They’re a 10”).  By doing so, you are actually discussing a person’s physical appearance with romantic undertones, which adds up to comments of a sexual nature.

  2. Discussing the nature of one’s personal life with references to sexual activity; you are referring to (personal) sexual activity while in the work context.

  3. Sharing sexually inappropriate photos/videos/emails with colleagues; content of a sexual nature has entered what should be a neutral, sex-free environment for work or study.

  4. Using terms of endearment such as honey, dear, or sweetie. Terms of endearment denote affection toward another person. This affection can reasonably be perceived as romantic in nature, and even sexual. Even though the person may mean nothing to you, it is the impact the behavior has on others that matters.


Harassment is always about the IMPACT of your behavior and not about your INTENT.

As soon as comments/actions of a sexual nature become unwelcome by someone in the work context, the behavior falls into the sexual harassment bucket.

Following some basic communication rules will help you to avoid walking on eggshells.

Learn more about developing your capacity to think impact and avoid harassment by going to our website!

The ‘reasonable person’ debate: Is harassing behavior in the eye of the beholder?

In a 2013 article, researchers who study the impact of the law on human lives (Wiener, Gervais, Allen, & Marquez cited below) specifically explored the impact of people’s individual perspectives on their ability to consider the reasonable person’s perspective when judging potentially harassing behavior.

What do we mean by the reasonable person? The reasonable person is, according to Merriam-Webster, “a fictional person with an ordinary degree of reason, prudence, care, foresight, or intelligence whose conduct, conclusion, or expectation in relation to a particular circumstance or fact is used as an objective standard by which to measure or determine something (as the existence of negligence).” The reasonable person‘s point of view is considered when an issue of unwanted behavior occurs in a work environment, in order to help determine whether the act should reasonably be considered offensive.

In reading this article, I learned that there is something called the self-reference effect, where humans tend to reach judgments about outside situations by placing themselves inside the role of the ‘experiencer’ in the situation. As humans, we do this naturally – perhaps as an instinctive survival mechanism. However, in theory, this idea would debunk the whole reasonable person test we use to objectively judge issues. How can we consider the reasonable person’s perspective if we are putting our own emotions and values into that role any way? Isn’t that just our perspective then?

The answer is yes. We have a tendency to put ourselves into the shoes of others when predicting how another person experiences something. But that does not mean it’s impossible for us to consider the reasonable-ness of workplace behavior.  After all, we are held to certain expectations and standards in a work environment are we not?Perhaps a helpful way to think about the reasonable person is to instead consider a prudent, or careful, or responsible, or professional point of view.  

Would a prudent/careful/responsible/professional person consider the behavior unwelcome in a work environment?


The first step is knowing where the legal boundaries exist in your context.

Do you (and your team) know what legally defines harassing behavior?


Wiener, R. L., Gervais, S. J., Allen, J., & Marquez, A. (2013). Eye of the beholder: Effects of perspective and sexual objectification on harassment judgments. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law19(2), 206.

The Power of Asserting Boundaries

In her recent book, Empowered Boundaries, author Cristien Storm discusses the idea of communicating boundaries as a way of protecting an environment or space from stepping into legally actionable situations, like discrimination and harassment.

According to Storm, boundaries are communicated with either action or inaction, and can be communicated re-actively or proactively, to protect a space. I’ll let her words provide an example:

“When we do not respond to a sexist comment, for example, the space becomes one in which sexism can expand, which in turn creates conditions where escalating sexist behaviors are more possible. However, if we can assert a clear boundary in the face of a sexist comment, we demark that space as one where sexism is not tolerated. Boundaries then, are not just individual and interpersonal but social as well.”


How do you manage the boundaries in your work context?

For more information on how to keep clear, consistent boundaries, ask about our Professional Boundaries course.

info@breakviewtraining.com   866.377.0165

Working with opposing positions? How to keep it productive using brain research

Debating opposing positions is not just for professionals anymore. In fact political debates have become regular household events as of recent. In fact you may have even seen tips over the holidays for talking to relatives over the dinner table. As a society, we’re in need of a way to communicate our opposing ideas with one another without hitting a wall – both figuratively and literally.

Lauren Migliore, author at Brain World Magazine, provides a solution to this issue that uses an instinctive, automatic human function to bring people together – our emotions.

Let me backup a moment and explain why this is so difficult to do in the first place. Migliore writes that the mind is not easily swayed, due to our historic need to remember and base quick judgments off of experiences. In other words, we are hard-wired as humans to pre-judge situations for survival. Further, only in the past few decades have we gained access to the current extent of information that is out there about the world.  Our brains have simply not evolved as quickly as the extent of information sources has, leaving us to pick and choose our sources for information. And unfortunately our tendency to consume information that confirms our current beliefs (i.e. confirmation bias) strengthens not only our resistance to change, but our likelihood of becoming defensive when challenged.

This, Migliore explains, is the power influence can have on the brain. This explains why conspiracy theories such as the flat earth theory gain 200 followers per year. No matter how much scientific evidence is documented and shared, as long as strong beliefs coupled with selective information are what are populating a person’s mind, facts can fall flat, Migliore mentioned with pun intended. This facts can fall flat theory was tested with participants in a study about politically charged issues, and Yale professor and researcher Dan Kahan found that individuals, when presented with a topic that elicits strong polarized opinions, were less able to provide objective, quantitative analyses.

So what was Migliore’s solution to our opposing positions at the dinner table issue? What can we do about our stubborn sets of beliefs and expectations? We can tap into the useful pieces of this emotional connection phenomenon and find shared emotions, shared motivations as the author calls it. If you saw the movie Crash, you may remember the scene toward the end where the police officer is saving the woman he once sexually assaulted from a burning car. She is terrified to be touched by him, but he is the only police officer who is there and able to save her. Spoiler alert – he ends up talking her into letting him save her, and the intense shared experience teaches him to empathize with her fear. He could see how afraid she was of him, even as he stood there as her only option for survival. It’s a heart wrenching scene, but you can see the intense impact of their shared motivation.

The moral of the story here is: connect with people via emotions, not via logic. One way to connect with people’s emotions is to tell stories. We are also wired as humans to listen to and learn from stories of the human experience (Drew Turney, also author for Brain World Magazine). You only have to consider the tales told in caves by campfires and the time and money spent on television, movies, and novels to realize the human obsession with stories.


What motivations do you share with those who oppose your personal opinions?

How can you be the person who gets the conversation going in a respectful, yet still compelling way?

What emotion can you communicate through a story to help your cause?