For you, new and popular

An edit of newly added resources and those proving consistently popular among our partners' teams.
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Book Club: New Methods for Women — With Sharmadean Reid MBE
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Raul Aparici on mitigating impostor syndrome
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Kate and Catherine on pausing, for conversational space
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Kate and Catherine on intentional listening
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Kate and Catherine on questioning well
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Worksheet: Time Blocking
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Kate and Catherine on the coaching opportunity
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Matteo's coaching reflections
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Kas's reflections on listening and questioning well
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Time Blocking, and bringing some colour into your calendar
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Worksheet: Owning Feedback
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Making the case for situational flexibility as leaders
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eCourse: Difficult Conversations
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Mentors, Sponsors and Champions. With Abi Adamson
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Effective Allyship. With Abi Adamson
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What's your Privilege Pledge? With Abi Adamson
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Diversify your feed. With Abi Adamson
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Privilege reflections. With Abi Adamson
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Mindful toothbrushing. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Anchor dropping. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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5,4,3,2,1 — a mindfulness technique. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Urge surfing. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Everyday mindfulness. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Making room for emotions (and the weather). With Dr. Sam Akbar
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Letting go of emotions. With Dr. Sam Akbar
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How do you notice your thoughts? With Dr. Sam Akbar
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A coaching conversation around strengths
Confidence Ecourse
eCourse: Confidence Mastery
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Daniel Goleman's Six Leadership Styles, explained by Louise Hedges
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eCourse: Mastering Delegation
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eCourse: Time Management and Prioritisation
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eCourse: Get SET with your Goals
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Perspectives on privilege, with Abi Adamson
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Neurodivergent Perspectives. Lexi Keegan in conversation with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neurodiversity know-how: The Spiky Profile explained
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Neurodiversity explained, with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neuroinclusion at work: Thinking about adjustments
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Neurodiversity know-how. Autism with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neurodiversity know-how. ADHD with Dr. Anne Cockayne
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Neurodiversity know-how. Dyslexia with Dr. Anne Cockayne
Micro-learning: Setting Better Boundaries
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eCourse: Practicing a Coaching Approach
Finding fortitude, and follow on experiments
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eCourse: Conscious Inclusion
Seven things to avoid when writing at work
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Share genuinely useful feedback with the BID model
Solve problems before they happen with pre-mortems
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Five tactics for influencing those more senior
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Five powerful questions for adding impact and insight to your next interview.
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Try out the CAR technique, and upgrade your understanding when interviewing someone.
Good Qs
Smart ways to frame questions in your next mentoring session
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Try the 5 Whys to invigorate your problem solving and add depth to your decisions.
Allyship CP
Course Pack: Effective Allyship, with Abi Adamson
Course Pack: Voice Gym. Building your vocal confidence
A three minute mindset exercise, to support a coaching approach
Try this deep listening exercise for deeper connection and better conversations
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Experiment with the BRAIN model for confident decision making and problem solving
Discover the impact a five minute favour can have on your relationships, and network building
Homework for Life: A ten-second daily ritual for noticing, capturing and practicing stories
Course Pack: Storytelling
Do Story
Practical storytelling principles from Bobette Buster's book — Do: Story
Evolve your 'inner mentor' — a short reflective exercise to focus your development, and the ways you can better support others
Experiment with a Springboard Story to communicate your change idea, and take people with you towards it.
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Course Pack: Natural Networking
Tone Policing - What it is, why it's unhelpful and how to helpfully notice it.
Coaching Criticism
Find the Coaching in Criticism. Things to try when feedback doesn't quite land
4 Ds
The 4Ds. A practical framework for acknowledging microaggressions
Mindful breathing — the foundation of focus and flow
Channel that fly on the wall. Try some purposeful self talk to mitigate moments of doubt
Add some friction to your most common distractions
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Build belief by recognising small wins — Try a 'Done List'
Silent Meeting
Make your next meeting a Silent Meeting
Can If Go
Immediately build your confidence, with a 'Can-If' statement
To Think
Don't forget to diarise thinking time — experiment with a 'To Think' list
Smarten your approach to setbacks, by trying out a Setback Story
Get clear on control with a Clarity Clap
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Everything I Know about Life I Learned from PowerPoint — What we learned and where it led...
How to be a meaningful mentor, insights from a purposeful podcast
If Then New
Design (and share) your If > Then statements, for a purposefully prompt towards action
Practice the principles of persuasion from 'Godfather of Influence,' Robert Cialdini.
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Six steps for finding focus and flow, with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in mind
Course Pack: Making Time
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Great questions to ask in coaching conversations, 1-1's and other curious contexts

Tone Policing - What it is, why it's unhelpful and how to helpfully notice it.

When someone responds to something that's been raised by re-directing attention to the way it's been raised, that's tone policing. It's not always done with a toxic intention, but it's always unhelpful when safe and inclusive cultures are sought. Here we share some more insights into the concept, some examples of it in effect and ideas for how to purposefully challenge it.

Tone Policing?

Tone policing is a tactic used to shut down conversation, expressions and complaints; shifting the focus away from what's being raised, to the way it's being raised

The definition of tone policing, according to, is “a conversational tactic that dismisses the ideas being communicated when they are perceived to be delivered in an angry, frustrated, sad, fearful or otherwise emotionally charged manner.”

How does Tone Policing show up?

Anger, sadness and fear are natural emotions, especially as a response to sexist, racist, homophobic or transphobic microaggressions. Tone policing silences complaints and genuine expression of frustration or offence by invalidating these feelings. It's often described as a silencing tactic.

Examples would be, “I’m not listening to your complaints if you’re going to be so hysterical about them,” or “Your tone is unprofessional and aggressive, we can have this conversation when you’ve calmed down.”

A fuller example?

Let’s say you’d printed off a collection of resources to have to hand at a client meeting, and left them on your desk with a post-it saying ‘needed for meeting, please don’t move!’ But your colleague Matt ignored this, took them home and didn’t bring them back.

Understandably you raise this with Matt, but instead of responding to the topic at hand Matt makes the conversation all about how you’re expressing yourself: “Woah, calm down — why all the negative energy?”, or “Why are you choosing to express yourself like this?”. He’s shifting the focus, and putting you on the back foot. Of course you’re feeling negative and cross — he’s ignored a request and messed up your plans. The more he makes it about your response, the more frustrated and drained you become, and it’s not unlikely that the issue gets ignored and you don’t get properly heard.

This is tone policing in action.

Why Tone Policing is so unhelpful

Reinforcing stereotypes

Tone policing risks gendering emotions and reinforcing stereotypes (often culturally nuanced) like 'women should be softly spoken' or 'men should not get emotional'.

Privilege preservation

Tone policing can preserve and protect the privilege of people wanting to avoid confrontations that make them feel uncomfortable about ideas like power and dominance.

Suppressing voices

Tone policing can make marginalised groups feel that their voices, frustrations and opinions are not valid.

Blocking learning

When we reactively tone police someone, we stop ourselves from taking onboard valid feedback and observations of others. We miss things in our blind-spots and dent our development.

Helpful expressions to recognise and respond

"When you did X, if felt Y. I wonder if Z", offers a helpful framework for keeping conversation honest, non-judgemental, on track and future focussed.

So perhaps...

"When the conversation became about the way I'd described what was bothering me, I felt like you didn't want to discuss it. I wonder if we can focus on what's happened, and the reasons behind it?"

Another useful expression to keen communication non-judgemental is 'I noticed..."

For example...

"I've noticed the conversation is now becoming about my tone, which is making me feel more frustrated. Can we focus on the issue I've raised?"

Some reflection questions

Can you think of a time where someone at work has been tone policed?
Have you ever inadvertently tone policed someone at work or home?
What could you say if you hear someone being tone policed?

Learn more

In our Microaggressions: calling them out and calling them in workshop, DE&I expert Abi Adamson leads a conversational approach to exploring tone policing and much more too. Find future dates here.

More Resources