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How to Correct Abrasive Leadership and Improve Conflict Management Styles With Bonnie Artman Fox

Bonnie Artman Fox

Bonnie Artman Fox is a Workplace Conflict and Executive Leadership Coach at A Conscious Choice, where she equips leaders with emotional intelligence skills to work through conflicts productively. Her experience as a psychiatric nurse and licensed marriage and family therapist credits her ability to correct abrasive leadership — and was the catalyst for her to transition to corporate training and coaching.

Bonnie is also a best-selling author and accredited Boss Whisperer. Her coaching program, which has an 82% success rate, was designed to coach leaders on how to replace their abrasive behavior with more effective leadership skills. Bonnie’s book,How Did My FAMILY Get In My OFFICE?!, provides a unique perspective on how family upbringing impacts conflict resolution among leaders.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Bonnie Artman Fox explains factors that influence efficacy rates in organizations

  • How self-awareness helps build better relationships

  • How your upbringing affects your behavior and conflict management style

  • Bonnie's advice on using humor and vulnerability when handling tough conversations

  • Why Bonnie transitioned from clinical psychology to leadership coaching

  • How your words and actions impact others

  • Bonnie references her mentor’s new book — and discusses the reasons why managers are apprehensive to correct abrasive

  • The difference between coaching and therapy

  • Top reasons why you should hire a leadership coach

In this episode…

Understanding how you come across to others and how people perceive you is an important aspect of self-awareness. Dysfunctional workplaces are caused by abrasive leaders who are afraid of showing their vulnerability, resulting in emotional damage and disunity amongst teams.

Bonnie Artman Fox, a leadership coach, advises leaders to make the conscious choice to improve their communication style to build better relationships, which creates conducive workplaces and helps in managing conflicts. The most effective leaders are self-aware, have effective communication styles, and leverage the power of emotional intelligence.

In this episode of The Tao of Pizza Podcast, Mark Hiddleson welcomes Bonnie Artman Fox, a Workplace Conflict Expert and Executive Leadership Coach at A Conscious Choice, to talk about how to correct abrasive leadership and improve conflict management styles. Bonnie also shares how your upbringing affects the way you lead, tips for becoming an emotionally intelligent leader, explains the difference between coaching and therapy, and shares success stories from her coaching clients.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions Inc.


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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Tao of Pizza where we feature top logistics leaders, entrepreneurs, and supply chain innovators and share their inspiring stories with a holistic twist.

Mark Hiddleson 0:16

Mark Hiddleson here, host of The Tao of Pizza Podcast where I talk with top industry innovators in the warehousing, logistics, and supply chain business with a holistic twist. Before I introduce today's guest, Bonnie Artman Fox, this episode is brought to you by Specialized Storage Solutions. I think everybody knows my knowledge. I've been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. And I know I don't look that old, but it's definitely true. We provide industry-leading warehouse solutions and storage solutions nationwide. So basically, if you have a warehouse that needs rack, shelving, carts, conveyors, or mezzanines, we help with the design, engineering, installation, inspections, and repairs to help our clients optimize their logistics operations. And Bonnie, it's funny sometimes people don't even realize that we can actually help with permit acquisition services as well. So we take a holistic look at your entire business supply chain to develop the resources for continually improving your operation. To learn more, visit us at, give us a call at 707-732-3892, or I always give my personal email out to podcast listeners. Send me an email at if you're ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level.

Today's guest is a best-selling author, workplace conflict expert, and accredited boss whisperer. Bonnie Artman Fox equips executive leaders with powerful communication tools that bring teams together. Drawing from decades of experience as a psychiatric nurse and licensed family therapist, her leadership turnaround coaching program has an 82% success rate of coaching leaders to replace abrasive behavior with emotional intelligence skills. Bonnie's book, How Did My FAMILY Get In My OFFICE?!, provides a unique perspective on how family upbringing impacts how we handle conflict as leaders. Bonnie, welcome to The Tao of Pizza.

Bonnie Artman Fox 2:16

Hello, Hello, and thank you. It's an honor to be here.

Mark Hiddleson 2:21

It's great to have you and I have to mention the we were introduced by Vicki Dello Joio. And she is just an amazing, she shares her brand of brilliance through her amazing way of joy system for generating joy as a fuel, not a goal. So I want to encourage and I just I just hosted Vicki on. I've hosted her twice on the podcast, but check out her website at I am so glad that Vicki made the introduction to you. How do you how do you know Vicki?

Bonnie Artman Fox 2:56

Vicki and I have been in a mastermind group together. And I just listened to her and the comments that she made, I was drawn to want to know her more. And as a result of being in the group together. I have also enlisted her for help with coaching. Also myself, so yes, I'm a big fan of Vicki.

Mark Hiddleson 3:19

Yeah, I was lucky of 20 years ago in my master's program she led and I did two of them but they were weekend retreats where was basically you know, nine in the morning till nine at night, three days in a row intensive training with other people and and just I mean, I kept her work I practice the things I learned from Vicki. I never like I'm never gonna let this practice. Yeah, it's like cool. Now. So I love your the Elan reading your your the introduction, that 82% effect. I didn't want to just jump right in. But I think you know, most I don't know efficacy. I'm I'm kind of passionate. I'm not a psychologist, but I look at efficacy rates. And I'm always thinking it's like 20% or so I see 82 That's like the opposite. So I'd like to share you know, how did you? I mean, how is that first of all, or what?

Bonnie Artman Fox 4:17

How do you? I mean, that blows me away? Yes, yes. Well, I give credit to Laura Crawshaw, who is the founder of The Boss Whispering Institute. And she developed the boss whispering coaching method to that and that's the the method that I follow in coaching leaders to replace abrasive behavior with emotional intelligence skills. And a key foundation to that program helping the actual abrasive leader to transform their behavior is first of all working with the manager of the abrasive leader. Because just like in a family, what behaviors our model Old and tolerated is, are the behaviors that we see in children. What we see in parents is what we see in children. In the same way, what managers model and tolerate is what defines the work culture. A big part of the boss whispering method being successful is the manager to have their own backbone, and confidence and be courageous to have that conversation with the abrasive leader that, in essence, says, We care about you, we appreciate you and the value that you bring to our organization. How you treat people isn't okay. We want to offer you help to turn around these behaviors. And that's the beginning is the manager intervening with the abrasive leader and saying, We want to help you, we want to keep you here.

Mark Hiddleson 5:53

Yeah, and this is a great because it's from a coaching perspective, right? And then you're taking, and you're starting a level above that's one. So I've owned my own company for it's 20. It'll be 20 years in

Bonnie Artman Fox 6:06

there, it was 20 years in April. Congratulations.

Mark Hiddleson 6:09

And so I've always over the IRS hired coaches, and kind of for that reason, because it's who and it does, you know, it is nice to have the upper level because we're, you know, how do you get training, coaching, and so, not in case coaches like Vicki and you and I think it's a, it's part of the holistic twist. And that's one of the things so I've posted my top clients, I've hosted partners that we work with in the warehouse equipment in everything like that, but a big part of what we do. It's relationships. And I was thinking that when Vicki introduced us, and we were talking about the bracing, that go, maybe Vicki, she probably is I'm one of those abrasive. And we our business is all family. I mean, my wife, and I have been partners the whole time in business. And now in the last few years, my oldest son works for us, all of our kids have been in the business. And so there are those patterns of connecting. And one of the things that's big and I wanted to talk to you about is sometimes there's tough conversations, like you need to end those are the ones you really need to have. Because when you have it, the relationships get better. So what are some of the things you work with? On? You know, how self awareness and conflict was handled and family? How does it transfer to, to having those tough conversations?

Bonnie Artman Fox 7:34

Well, let me give you I'll start out by giving a statistic about self awareness. And this comes from Natasha Jurek. Oh, and I'll ask you the question of how many, what is the percentage of people that you think are self aware people that would say, I'm self aware? What What number would you estimate the percentage of people who would say they're self aware?

Mark Hiddleson 7:57

It's a tough question. For men, there's, there's so much of the spectrum of, of self awareness. I mean, my guess would be, they would say they're self aware.

Bonnie Artman Fox 8:09

Yes. And have have the awareness of how they come across of their the impact of their words and actions. What triggers them?

Mark Hiddleson 8:18

Let's say half the people probably think they know, like, I know, that triggers me. That's my trigger. Yeah. And that's a level, I'd say half people would say, and the other half would be What are you talking about? That's my guess.

Bonnie Artman Fox 8:32

Okay. Well, according to Tasha Eurich, her statistic is it 95% of people think they're self aware. According to her research, then the actual number of people who are self aware are between 10 to 15%. So that means the majority of this are not self aware.

Mark Hiddleson 8:53

Well, it's, I mean, I've been doing self awareness work for at least 20 years. Honestly, it really started before that, because my passion even started as a young athlete to kind of know, pattern because you can get into like a hitter in baseball can get into a slump, or I was a pitcher. And if you start to think you get nervous and everything, then you suck. And so the more that that those levels of self awareness to go, Wait a minute, I'm getting carried away, go back to you know, breathing or, you know, lifting weights or whatever. But there's levels like he's even now I'm the blind spots. I know, I went to you know, every time I go to this training, it's like, wow, I didn't realize I come across and that's why what I do, I wouldn't say I'm abrasive because I do have emotional intelligence. But yes, I have this mentality. I'm an athlete, I have this thing that I like to be everybody should play every down. Like it's for fun to like in football. That's like your last chance and everything. But then I realized like, Well, it'd be better to play life like it's second and three, because you know, you're gonna get another chance you only need three yards in really So that to me, that's like a level of self awareness like, wow, I've played my whole life like it's for them too. And it's not really ever for them to.

Bonnie Artman Fox 10:07

Yeah. Yeah. Well, going back to two abrasive leaders, and you're right, if you have some of the awareness, or even asking if you're abrasive, you're not a brace of truly abrasive leaders a genuinely have blinders on that they genuinely don't realize how they come across and the condescending tone, the overreacting going from zero to 10, in a matter of seconds, yelling at employees colleagues in front of others in the hallway on the Zoom Room, in a staff meeting, calling people names even that they're driven. They're genuinely driven by the perception of appearing inadequate, and incompetent. And their focus is on getting things done. And any one or anything that gets in their way of getting things done is what triggers that abrasive reaction. Now, just a caveat here distinction. Bullies, on the other hand, know what they're doing. They are aware, the impact of a bully and an abrasive leader can be the same in terms of the negativity and the condescension of how they come across. But the intent is very different with an abrasive leader. And that's why abrasive leaders are coachable. They genuinely don't realize how they're coming across. And in the boss whispering program, that's what we help them to gain self awareness of how others perceive them, that they genuinely don't realize. And oftentimes, as we begin the coaching process, and they're giving me permission to interview their colleagues to understand the perceptions of how they come across, and I give them a feedback summary. They, they say, this isn't who I want to be, I had no idea. And there is a genuine remorse and an earnestness to turn things around. And I just recently wrapped up working with a reformed or transformed abrasive leader. And he said, at the end, he said, I am so grateful, not only for this opportunity to turn around these behaviors, my employer believed in me enough to help me and invest in me to turn these behaviors around. And now I want to repair relationships that I've damaged, as a result of how I treated people that I just didn't realize, and he is on his way. And then when I circle back and interview the same people I did in the beginning to understand the negative perceptions. This is so cool. People say to me, I'm having a totally different conversation with you than we did a few months ago, that I see a change in this person. And not only are they changing, now, I'm more self aware of how I'm coming across, because I see the concerted effort that he or she is making to improve their emotional intelligence. So it's so rewarding. It's just the positive ripple effect throughout the entire organization is really, really cool to be a part of. Yeah,

Mark Hiddleson 13:20

it's in a lot of companies already, or even I was thinking when we were, since I know, there is no abrasive managers, company, we have abrasive clients, sometimes so so I wanted to ask you, what are some of the

Bonnie Artman Fox 13:37

how do you tie

Mark Hiddleson 13:40

and I have a you know, one of my holistic approaches is I look at things as a systems like a systems based thinking, like a family is a living system. And one of the things I've noticed and even you know, self awareness, some things get passed from generation to generation. It's an I call it energy, and I don't mean like woowoo. But it's it's a pattern. It's not even a specific. So how do you kind of tie those things? You know, because I inherited thing I'm not inherited things was like, we're out of this program getting it's hear this fourth and two came from somewhere, and it is the what's an intervention? Or what do you call, like a strategy for working with that energy or generational transfer?

Bonnie Artman Fox 14:25

Well, that ties into my book, and How Did My FAMILY Get In My OFFICE?! and what I call our family factor. And it's looking back at the patterns in our upbringing, about how conflict was handled and how, how people communicated with each other and how upsetness was handled. And what people how people handle things when, when things didn't go as planned or when there was a loss or or just handling feelings in general. What was modeled to us. And the premise of my book was interviewing leaders about how conflict and communication was handled in their upbringing, and how that impacted how they dealt with conflict as a leader. And in the each chapter is their story is broken down in the first part of these chapters their story in their words of of how conflict communication was handled in their upbringing. And as they gain self awareness that, again, this isn't who I want to be, whether they were conflict avoider, or they were overly aggressive or a people pleaser, used humor to to deal with conflict. Most of them found they weren't handling it very well. So then they talk in the next part of the chapter is, are there productive conflict management strategies that they found meaningful for themselves? And so in answering your question, that will be different for all of us of what we do to our strategies to improve our conflict style, based on what was modeled to us in our family factor. And I have an assessment for that, that I am happy to share with your listeners and in the show notes. But in essence, it's just a very quick assessment to understand what is your based on your upbringing, what is your conflict style, and then after taking it, you'll get results. And then I provide strategies specific to that conflict style, to help you improve how you deal with conflict in the workplace. The set, last part of each chapter was where I gave a description of their family factor from an emotional intelligence perspective. And I talked about what each of the leaders did well, in gaining self awareness and developing strategies to manage their reaction. And also, it's what I call to regard their scars. That, you know, we all have stuff, wounds, hurts, scars, whatever you want to call it from our upbringing, that were imprinted on us that get imprinted in our nervous system. And looking back at our upbringing is not at all to blame, shame or finger point, I truly believe our parents do the best they can with what they know at the time. At the same time, we're all impacted by what's modeled to us. And influences then how we choose to deal with conflict and how we communicate. In fact, we know by age six or seven, kids decide how they're going to handle life when things get tough. And that gets imprinted on our conflict style. And the cool thing is that as we gain awareness, we can make that conscious choice to improve our conflict style, how we communicate for the better. And that's what all of the leaders in the book did. And just give such hope and inspiration that change is definitely possible. Nice, I'm

Mark Hiddleson 18:00

gonna make you a promise I'm, I didn't. Well, I'm gonna say I didn't have time to read your book. That's kind of inexcusable. We met a week ago, I could ordered it. I don't order stuff off of Amazon. But I am gonna get a book. I'm gonna read it because I'm fascinated by that. I love the assessment. So what I heard you I'm gonna give back so I asked you the intervention. You said assessment I love I have this spacetime paradigm audit that I do that it's a really long acronym. But the A is audit, assess and accept what is. And so I love and in psychology, like surveys and like that, and even just taking the survey I found without doing any other intervention, you're like, Well, you read these questions, you're like, look like okay, I'm gonna tell them all myself. Well, like mine, you know, I would be you know, humor. But but, you know, I had some bully aspects of things. You know, at some point when I was eight year olds, us like Never again, never again, and those never again moments. It's like, wow, that eight year old. Still running things 40 years later, and won. Yeah. The assessment I mean, just the assessment it's because it's designed by professionals right, like those questions. It's not a giant mystery that we're on like oh, what are the keys of the two? Like yeah, some of the assessment and then what else What did you say but I'll just the success story. So sharing success stories and so I wanted to ask about the human one too, and I don't want to make this about me but I have used and I try to use humor in a healthy way like I feel like in but it is. It can go in our family we have a I call it to cut down culture but we actually to like our friend group. As part of that I read this book can never see You can have the guy's first name was salesman, but it was a it was a book about work in like, we've been working in 1000s and 1000s of years and the idea of a paycheck or working. But one of his things he found was like a cultural anthropology thing is that hackling is like the greatest hunters and some of the tribe like part of the culture, like the greatest warrior everything, they would make fun of them. Because this guy caught another big one, you know, because it kind of kept everybody humble. So humor and humbles the same root word would share. What I've seen, though, it can make it has a dark side. So I also have this thing, there's a yin and the yang or shadow aspects of the shadow aspects of humor. So So do you work with like turning that into a healthy or even like, I've been blindsided to where I've made a joke. I was like, Ooh, that wasn't me. I was kicked up. How do you kind of work with that? Because I mean, I really do think humor is a good strategy, because it can you know, you can keep you can say tough things without being hurtful. And have a sense of humor, like look at we all like you said, we all have this, like we're all. And I think those wounds are kind of the beautiful thing. Share the wound, it's like, that's what it really means to be human not to be this awesome software guide. Does everything. So would you say something just about humor, or, you know, the dark side and the good side? Or how you kind of turn it from a success story from a success story?

Bonnie Artman Fox 21:34

Yes. It's, and again, I so appreciate your vulnerability. And it's such a sign of strength as your leadership and all leaders who, you know, kind of have that air of, I've got it all together, and aren't vulnerable. Artists trusted. And it's so your vulnerability is definitely a competitive advantage for any leader. So thank you for modeling that for your listeners.

Mark Hiddleson 22:04

Thank you, it's, I'm embarrassed. I'm blown. My people who really do listen to all the people on our team, listen to this. And one of the things is like, Oh, you gotta hold me accountable. Mike, I'm not. I'm gonna try. I want to say anything. That I don't model that at work. And I let them call me on. It's like, Hey, I heard you talking about the way. Yes. So how come you yelled at me yesterday? Yeah.

Bonnie Artman Fox 22:31

So getting back then to your question about humor is, yes, humor is a way to bring levity to a tense situation. And to bring this perspective, so we don't take ourselves too seriously. So there's a positive to it. And at the same time, it's also for us to be aware of is this using humor as a way of avoiding talking about what needs to be talked about? And I Oh, I have it here. I call that the MO kita. This is, like Makita, little elephant. Excuse me. And it's the word Makita comes from one of the tribes in Papa New Guinea. That means the truth we know about and agree not to speak up, or the elephant in the room. And we can all have our different conflict styles prevent us from talking about them. Oh, PETA, including humor. And it's it's then to answer your question about how to address them Okita when humor is your go to is looking at. And this is where self awareness comes in. What's this about here for me that I'm uncomfortable? And I don't want to talk about the Makita. I don't want to talk about that. What is this about? And, and whether it's appropriate at the time and the team meeting, to bring it up, or you know, do some reflection after the meeting and then come back to the team. It's when we can have that self awareness of what triggers us, our go to conflict style. And again, whether that's humor, whether that's people pleasing, whether that's anger, whatever it is avoidance, that it's for us to be aware of, what is this about here? And gaining that self awareness and then looking at what's another way of addressing this? And maybe it's going back to the team and being vulnerable? And saying, you know, I I'm aware that during that team meeting last week, I avoided talking about XY and Z because I was uncomfortable about blah, blah, blah, whatever it is. Vulnerability is a way to build trust is the foundation of a healthy team. And modeling that as a leader that hey, I Have, I've got my own triggers. And I'm modeling this, as the leader of this team for all of us to be real, not that a team meeting turns into a therapy session is just to say, I got triggered. I cracked a joke. And it prevented us from talking about this deadline that we're behind on or on our financials, that we're not our dashboard is behind. And it's uncomfortable for me to talk about that. Those are just examples. Yeah, that it's putting it out on the table to talk about them Okita. And first of all, it begins with what am I avoiding? What's that about? Does that help? Did that answer your question? Yeah, that was

Mark Hiddleson 25:44

a great, that was a great answer. And I was thinking of humor as a way to bring up those uncomfortable like, for me, it's almost like, I don't want to talk about this, but I'm gonna make it a joke. And that's what's gonna give me. So I was gonna ask you, how do you take that? And so I guess what I do is like, okay, look it this is something I want to avoid. You know, we all have those. Yes. And there was actually somebody had the false impression that I enjoyed having those tough conversations that I heard somebody else was cyber said, Yeah, you know, Mark loves to have those covenants. It's not that I love to have those five conversations with myself. Before I have that. I just know, it's so important. Yes, relationships. Yeah. So I don't. And then it's funny, and I tried to do it in a way that I guess it looks like from outside that I like it. No, no, I just know. It's a but it's Hillary. But that's perception. And I love what so your, your answer to is. It's taken action on it is it's like, it's not just the self awareness. Like, oh, I'm avoiding this. It's like, okay, good. I want to do. That's a win. But it's, it's going. Taking action. There was something else before I asked you. Well, I want to get into. So we did talk about the boss whisperer, because you're, you're talking about guiding leaders to replace a brace of hate behaviors with emotional intelligence skills. I want to ask you, how did you go from clinical psychology into this, this kind of work? What was that journey? Like? And it seems like you love you love it? I mean, you Yeah, it's really rewarding.

Bonnie Artman Fox 27:41

Yeah, it is. Yeah. I had my own private practice in Illinois, as a licensed marriage and family therapist for almost 1011 years. And when I moved to Pittsburgh, now it's going on 11 years ago, I made the conscious choice to shift from being a therapist to go to become a leadership coach. And I made that choice. As I reflected on what have all of my life experiences taught, excuse me, taught me or prepared me for, at this point that I can and help others. And I thought about all the people, many of the people that I saw in my private practice, who came in with anxiety, sleepless nights, headaches, because of dysfunctional workplaces, and, and bosses who were now that I know, I didn't know the term then abrasive, and they were suffering. And they didn't have the authority to do anything about it, because they were the employee. And some of them felt stuck in the workplace. They needed the job. And as a result, we're, we're really struggling emotionally. So fast forward, then I was looking at what other than I know that there's a lot of leadership coaches out there, but how can I, based on my experiences? How can I really make a difference, and then I found The Boss Whispering Institute, and then received the training in the boss whispering coaching method through Laura Crawshaw. What I didn't realize at the time also was I had an experience way back in the day back when going to totally ag myself in the mid 90s. In I had been recruited for my very first leadership position, and I was fraught with them that I don't have any leadership experience. I'm not sure I'm the person for you. And they said, well, Bonnie, he'll be great. You're known for your excellent clinical skills. Besides we're going to teach you everything you need to know about being a leader and will groom you and professional development. I thought this is great that it's in the field that I love. It was the director of an outpatient substance abuse treatment program. And I get to advance my career. Well, within a few short months, what was promised was not reality. And there were closed door meetings. There were decisions made without my input. And there was no professional development. And when I asked about it, there was silence. And being the people pleaser, my go to conflict styles, people pleasing. I was at a crossroads of the what do I do? Do I stay in this job and just endure this? Or do I choose to grow from this. And coaching really wasn't a thing as big as it is now. So I went to therapy, that was the only place that I could figure out how to how to sort through this. And what was interesting. And then which leads into my book, The therapist asked me, tell me about how conflict was handled in your upbringing. And I thought, What does my upbringing have to do with this work situation that I'm here for? And but I answered it and said, Well, you know, we did things as a family, we always had dinner together, we had extended family gatherings. And we even went to Disney World. And she said, Well, that's great. How did people handle conflict? And then it dawned on me. Silence. I love my parents dearly. But we didn't know how to talk about upsetness. We didn't know how to work through differences and express upset feelings. And here I was, and this is what the therapist said, sounds like your family is in your office. Oh, little did I know, then. Yeah, those words would be the name of my book, How Did My FAMILY Get In My OFFICE?!. That's how that all ties together that this my passion is driven by I've lived this working in a dysfunctional workplace because of abrasive bosses. And I've seen it in my clients that I worked with as a therapist. And now I'm in the workplace to help leaders transform abrasive behaviors with emotional intelligence. Because I know the impact it has on employees. Yeah,

Mark Hiddleson 32:26

that's awesome. What a great, great story. Because it's like he saw the kind of you solved your own. I don't use I like to replace. So here's my communication. I don't call them problems. I call them opportunities. You've solved your own opportunity. Yes. And we've so huge, because it was a total blind spot. It was. So then you just became passionate about helping other people see their blind spots and the family piece? Well, in the generations, I mean, I just think I was so impacted. I mean, I had great family kind of the same thing. Big family holidays. Great. So like, if you looked at it on the outs, I even had a boss one time that said, you know, I was going to college and work another thing. And I used to always go to my grandparents for lunch. And it was like, Well, it's nice to come from a wealthy family. And I was like, my family's not like my grandpa is a clerk at lumberjack which is like Home Depot, everything I go with, but we just eat to get wheat sugar in and so there was this huge side, but there was, you know, those that didn't have emotional intelligence classes in 1950. You know, my grandfather who I really admired my grandfather, but he you know, same thing that you know, just being tough or bearing it inside or you know, being a man make a joke not to talk about the important stuff. It's, my grandma had the she was famous because we were going through something I was a teenager, and I was I feel so sorry for my kids. My mom was Angel. And I was a bad teenager. Not that I was good. I was a great athletes, great grades and everything else. But I also like to kind of screw up. And my grandma said, well, all you guys need to do is have a picnic. Go have a picnic. And my aunt who had studied, she was a speech pathologist, and she had a lot of background psychology and you know, like, late 60s, early 70s. He had always like, Oh, my God is picnic. Like, how could you say that? But it was there was kind of a truth in it too. That you know, a picnic is like a change of scenery, or picnic is a place maybe we can have some of these conversations. So I kind of saw both sides of it. I mean, there was the avoidance. And she wasn't just saying all we need to do is that was it was like saying a picnic is a way accent. tuna sandwiches. So I wanted to ask more about blind spots because and then we were talking earlier about part of so the assessment and you kind of find out where your blind spots are, where you're avoiding things, but then taking action on it. So I love something that he said about it was about how our words and actions impact others. And I love the relationship between action and words, because I think some people are all talk. And so it was like, Well, I'm taking the self awareness classes and everything. I'm still doing the same to justify and being the same. So talk a little bit about the words in action and how that kind of ties in with your work.

Bonnie Artman Fox 35:53

Sure, sure. So if I may, I'll share a story from the one of the leaders in the book. Grace. Again, these are not their real names. They gave me permission to share their stories, they chose their own names. Grace, grew up in a family where her mother was overly emotional. And her father was an alcoholic, but he was a very quiet drunk in her words. So when her mother would become overly emotional, and Dad, we had pretty much checked out by drinking in avoiding the mother. She didn't know what to do with that in her mother was very overwhelmed, overwhelming with her emotions, Grace would just check out she would leave. And she would often go to her grandmother's house who that was a safe place for her. So that's her upbringing, the imprint of how conflict was handled, and the way she handled it was to check out to avoid. So fast forward, then she's in the workplace as a leader. And she finds that when her employees are overly emotional, and looking to her for answers, she would start to check out. And she didn't, this is where she gained self awareness. Like, okay, this isn't good for me as a leader, I'm supposed to still be present with my employees, even though they're irritating me. And she took that step back and read the self reflection of what's this about here for me. And that's when she made the connection. That Oh, this is what I did in my upbringing, that was her family factor, she would check out and avoid. And her family her mother was in her in her office and figuratively, metaphorically, when her employees would be overly emotional. So this is the cool part in answering your question of what do we do about it? Once we gain that self awareness? Again, we all have to answer that question that's meaningful to us. What she found would be meaningful and was very, very courageous on her part. She, there was an opportunity where her mother was about to have surgery. And she Grace spoke with her husband and said, Would it be okay, if mom came to stay with us while she was recovering from the surgery, and her purpose was not only to honor her mother and to take care of her after the surgery, race was consciously choosing that as an opportunity for her to learn how to interact with her mother, without getting caught up in the same old dance of race reacting and then checking out or the two of them bantering back and forth. And She immersed herself in this, this opportunity to learn how to self regulate and change her conflict pattern for the better. Not only did it improve her relationship with her mother, and it wasn't about her mother changing this is all about this isn't about changing anybody but ourselves. She learned how not to be reactive to her mother. And then she started showing up differently as a leader in the workplace, where it wasn't about her employees overreaction. What was getting triggered inside of her was those old wounds those scars of hurts from her mom not being there for her emotionally growing up. And, and how she made the conscious choice to heal those wounds with her mother helped her to become a more present, emotionally intelligent leader. Wow. That's

Mark Hiddleson 39:35

a really, really powerful story. So she had that confidence we'll be hearing you say she had the confidence because she had these new emotional intelligence skills. And then she she had a little bit of confidence to try because before you have the skills, you don't really want to even go there because worldwide you're going to be in the same dance. I love that you call it a dance, too because it takes two to tango. but it is a dance. But she gave the confidence, the skills, but then it's like in martial artists and then you have to go in the dojo and try it out, that's when you really build the skills is going into what you know, the triggers are going to be there at the time, but you have some tools that's beautiful,

Bonnie Artman Fox 40:22

and how to change the pattern that was the name of my practice was Changing Patterns. And this goes back to your comment earlier about generationally. These are the patterns that are passed down to us, once we become aware of what those patterns are, for us. And again, they're going to be different for all of us individually, we can make that conscious choice to change the patterns. And because this is also related to the our reaction is embedded in our nervous system, it does take that conscious effort, that conscious choice, to be intentional to show up in a way of who we aspire to be to change the pattern. And that's the cool part, we change the pattern for the next generation. And especially for you in a family owned business, you are changing the pattern for your son, and what the legacy you're passing on. That's so

Mark Hiddleson 41:13

beautiful we have. And so I've known about the pattern for a long time. And I've started learning what to do with it, it what's inner and it is energy. So the word I use as you're changing the inner it's an energetic pattern. And it's discouraging sometimes when people talk about energy, and they think, oh, it's weird, but it is when you because there's no gap between stimulus and response. If it's in a dance like this, like this happens like this, and this, and it happens. So but if you're not aware of it, like you said that the brace of leaders that are not even aware that this is a brace of like this is just this is one on some work one on one

Bonnie Artman Fox 41:54

night, right

Mark Hiddleson 41:55

and and in the work that you're doing. It's really cool. And I think in the last 20 years, the psycho technology, I call them psycho technology. Have you been in the industry for a long time. But I think the technologies have really, you know, we're maybe why therapy efficacy rates are lower than 82% is because your tools like you you've have a system. And what was your your mentor the system, I can't remember her name, it's going to be in the show notes. But I want you to say it again,

Bonnie Artman Fox 42:26

Laura Crawshaw, and she founded The Boss Whispering Institute. Yeah, I also just want to give up a plug for her recent book, she just recently published this, Grow Your Spine & Manage Abrasive Leadership Behavior: A Guide for Those Who Manage Bosses Who Bully. This is basically a guide for the manager who is often afraid to intervene with the abrasive leader. Because the two primary reasons the abrasive leader is really, really good at what they do. And so from a performance perspective, they make the company a lot of money. And they're, they have a second reason they have expert knowledge of the industry. So the manager or the president, the owner of the company, or or the the board doesn't want to get rid of that person, because they bring in revenue or their expertise. And that's where the manager can be caught if of not intervening, because they're afraid of losing that person. And also, they're afraid of what to say they don't want to make the situation worse, they're afraid the abrasive leader may turn things around on them and make them the problem and they don't know what to say. And her book really provides an outline for that. And that's also one of the services that I provide is intervention consultation is helping equip the manager with the confidence to intervene in order to protect the well being and the psychological safety of the entire organization by allowing the abrasive behavior to continue.

Mark Hiddleson 44:07

Yeah, when you are listing off the behaviors of the braysen I was afraid to go to work. Like body stop we got a lot of different companies like I can run into one of these guys today one of my clients no it is scary in in SEO making humor about it again, but I will seriously when you realize like wow, like that would be I would be scared. I would be scared to go to work at a place like that. You know, just emotionally like I'm not afraid I'm gonna get physically hurt was like the one thing right so I wanted to ask you another I love coaching I love the coaching model. I wanted to ask you two questions about coaching. One is, uh sometimes I regard like what are the top five reasons the hire coach? So I'd like to hear like your top reasons like Why hire a coach but also share the difference between therapy and coaching. Because I love that distinction because I use, you know, really use coaching for what you could say we use therapy. They're not I don't think they're interchangeable. I think it's a different model. But I would love to hear your, because you've your backgrounds, awesome to ask you this question. So please,

Bonnie Artman Fox 45:23

yeah, thank you. As a therapist, we tend to look more in the past and to make connections about how our patterns of how our family of origin impacts our behaviors today. And again, I was I always worked from a family systems perspective. So I would draw a genogram, which is basically a family tree and go back at least three generations to look back at the patterns from one generation to the next. And that, that that was, what are our playbook, if you will, that in terms of understanding the generational patterns. And then coaching is more about, okay, that impacted you. But we don't really delve into that we focus more on the strategies going forward, in order to improve and be who you aspire to be. And more about the individual answering their own questions, and coming up with their own answers. And the coach. A therapist also asked a lot of really good questions. It's more so the coaching that the individual comes up with their own answers.

Mark Hiddleson 46:42

Nice. And Woody, what do you think are the top the top two or three reasons for hiring a coach?

Bonnie Artman Fox 46:51

The top one is to gain self awareness that again, as we've been talking about to bring awareness to our blind spots, most of us and as Tasha Eurex research shows, only 10 to 15% of us are really self aware. And I've heard a quote that the best leader is the self aware leader. So that would be the number one. And then secondly, once we're aware, then making the conscious choice to change those patterns for the better. And to develop those skills that don't come natural to us, especially because of our reactivity that's embedded in our nervous system, that we have those go to reactions, whether it's humor, whether it's people pleasing, the angry outbursts, it takes a conscious effort to change those patterns and develop new strategies over time and celebrating those incremental wins. Instead of looking for overnight success, just really being intentional every day, taking one step forward, because it's only natural, we're going to go back a few steps, because these are patterns that have been with us for years. And I, if I may share another story from the book. Yeah, please. Okay.

Mark Hiddleson 48:12

Yeah, I was just I wanted to say one thing that I had a coach, Wendy Palmer, she's actually she passed away a few months ago, I think, what she said, we we had this practice that we would do is what would it be like? And mu would be like, what would it be like? What would it feel like? What would it actually be like to be 3%? More, and we would choose the quality like 3% more generous or 3%? More patient or three? Just 3%? Because it does seem like we're going and we're going for the huge with, like, we want it all what's the 30 day 60 day, 90 day, guarantee the abs in six minutes, right? It's it's anchored. 3%. And if you did 3% per year of self awareness, you know, that's awesome. But yeah, please share the story because the stories are awesome.

Bonnie Artman Fox 49:00

Well, this story ties into your question of that we're self awareness isn't a one and done deal. Like okay, I went through that coaching program, and no, I'm done. It's an ongoing process. And this story really illustrates this. So this story is about June and June also grew up in an alcoholic family not not all of the leaders in the book grew up in alcoholic family but these two women happened to her dad was an alcoholic and he was very demonstrative, very angry, physically, mentally, emotionally abusive, and it wouldn't be uncommon for for there to be an angry outburst and police showing up at the house at night and the next morning, everyone pretending like nothing ever happened. And in June's words, her mom just ignored it and, and denied that all of this chaos was happening. June's way of dealing with all that chaos was to be the fighter in the family. And she was the only one who would stand up to her dad. And she would endure a lot of abuse as a result of it. Then fast forward with as she's in a leadership position, she happens to read an article one day about adult children of alcoholics. And she was intrigued by it and went to the company's EAP department. And in the course of talking to the EAP counselor, discovered she was an alcoholic that the way that she was coping with all of the abuse from her upbringing, the trauma was to drink every night to the point of a blackout. And she truly was fully functional the next day, it just was her norm. She got into recovery, embraced the 12 step program got a sponsor was actively in therapy working on her stuff, which again, we all have stuff, you years later, so she's sober, he's actively working on herself. She's up for a promotion. And her boss says, We want to give you this promotion, however, you have some rough edges, and we want to send you to this leadership development program to help you before we would give you this promotion, she goes to the facilitation that to the program and said to me, Bonnie, there are people there like me, who needed to learn how to tone down. And then there are other people who needed to learn how to speak up. At one point, the facilitator asked Tell me about your upbringing. And she did. And the facilitator said, You're safe. You're okay. You got out. And that was her term. That all those years after she had been actively working on herself, gaining self awareness was no longer using alcohol to cope with all that trauma and developed positive coping skills, you still had some rough edges as an overly aggressive boss. And it was those words, those words from the facilitator, who basically assured her you're okay, you're safe. That helped her to calm down. And physiologically, she then went on to become a calm, present, emotionally intelligent, empathic leader, as she continued to gain self awareness and lift her blinders and recognize there were still wounds there that needed healing. And she's just an amazing transformation story. And again, that's going back to your questions about changing patterns and blind spots is throughout our lifetime. And it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with this, it's, it's just part of being human, that we've all got stuff to work on. And the key is the willingness to grow. And to be vulnerable about it and talk about it and, and have that culture which I sense that you have there at your company to say, Okay, this got triggered here and either make an apology, make a repair, and move forward from there.

Mark Hiddleson 53:10

And we're, everybody's learning is not at the pace of learning in our industry is so fast. And so to be able to make a mistake, like that's the biggest thing I want, I want people to know like it's okay like you're gonna make if you're doing your job, you're gonna make a lot of mistakes, you're not making mistakes means you're not doing anything. So I love it and the stories are so powerful I love what you said about the difference between coaching and therapy. Because that I think was self awareness there's the challenge of you don't want to be too much living in the past like there is like put the past in the past right then there is this bring the past into the present but then live it forward. The coaching is live that forward but we still we have to have knowledge of the patterns. So what a great great is with you I'm definitely I'm gonna read your book. How did my family get in my office all I know how they got I hired them this is how the three generations How did for like even for me, I was going back it's you know, that's by the time my kids is kids, it's gonna be five or six generations. So Bonnie Artman Fox and what what is the best way for people to connect with you? We're gonna put your book in the show notes. What's a great way for our listeners to connect with you and your boss whisperer?

Bonnie Artman Fox 54:31

Thank you on my website is If your listeners want to learn more about the abrasive leadership coaching program, they can go to And once you put your name and email in you will receive a resource that outlines the abrasive leadership with a boss whispering coaching program. And you will also receive an email that has an A assessment to take that to find out if maybe you are an abrasive leader, or maybe you have an employee that you're not quite sure whether you should talk with them about their behavior, you can take this assessment with that person in mind. And it will give you a report then, of what you've learned. And that would be suggestions for next steps of what to do for either your for yourself if you're taking it for yourself or for your employee. And then also, I'm on LinkedIn. And my the assessment is go to workplace family And you can put, again, your name your email in and it takes the assessment. And that way, you would get the results of how your complex style based on your upbringing, and then you'll get a series of emails based on your conflict style, to understand what you can do about it to improve your conflict style for the better, or,

Mark Hiddleson 56:03

yeah, show you how I'm look, I want to I'm going to be the first to take the assessment will have a link to that website. You can remember if you wrote down but we'll have links in the show notes to everything you talked about. And thank you so much. I want to be the first to thank you. This was so awesome. Bonnie Artman Fox, author and boss whisperer extraordinaire, thank you so much for joining us.

Bonnie Artman Fox 56:30

Thank you. Honored to be here with you. Thank you.

Outro 56:35

Thanks for listening to The Tao of Pizza Podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.


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