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Interview with Hanne Wulp: Mastering Leadership Communication & Conflict Resolution
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Published on October 10, 2023
Updated on November 14, 2023
In an era where effective communication and conflict resolution are more crucial than ever, Hanne Wulp stands out as a beacon of expertise. As the founder of Communication Wise, Hanne has dedicated her career to helping individuals and teams navigate the intricacies of leadership communication. With a unique background that spans from litigation attorney to now an executive coach and trainer, she brings a wealth of experience to the table. Today, we’re diving deep into Hanne’s journey, her insights, and the transformative impact of her business.
Inspiration and Inception
SBS – What inspired you to start a business in leadership communication and conflict resolution?
Hanne – As a litigation attorney, I noticed clients would often, at the end of a trial, be depleted financially, mentally, and emotionally, even when they’d won the case. I started looking for ways to help my clients solve their conflicts outside the courtroom — and I became a mediator, trainer, and coach. I ultimately believe the biggest part of conflict-solving is changing perspectives. A change in perspective makes us see options and opportunities that we didn’t see before.
Teaching clients how to do this as a preventative measure (training) and being able to assist clients during coaching makes my current role truly satisfying and successful in the sense that my clients find the results that they’re looking for.
SBS – How did you come up with the name for your business?
Hanne – Conflict is part of (work)life, but it’s not something anyone wants to be associated with. So, for branding purposes, it wasn’t wise to associate my business with conflict. The word “wise” is important to me because my training is about a continuous, never-ending process of becoming wiser: paying better attention to our internal processing of events and change and becoming more effective in our interactions with others. A big part of how our brains process (sudden) changes or disagreements is with words. And we work out disagreements with interactions. “Communication” is the overall arch of this. So, I chose “Communication Wise.”
Service Offerings and Client Demand
SBS – Can you break down the key services you offer and which has been the most sought-after?
Hanne – Communication Wise offers:
- Leadership Communication & Conflict Resolution Skills Team Training
- Executive Coaching
- Multi-Party Facilitation
Executive Coaching has been the most sought-after service lately. I love that because we can truly only change ourselves — and, with that, our results. We can make others do things, but we can’t truly change them; they can only do that themselves. When we become more effective in our processing and interactions or influence, we can steer our results better.
The Leadership Communication training has been popular too. The great thing about that is that we get to work as a team on ourselves AND influence each other in real-time. I believe that we are stronger together. When the participants understand that, too, and they’re engaged in the fun and learning during the training, they get a lot out of it.
Funny anecdote: My first client (who still is one of my executive clients) changed the name of my training. I used to call it “Conflict Management Skills” training, and apparently, he didn’t like that. He announced my training as a “Leadership Communications” training to his exec team. I’ve used it ever since. I don’t approach my clients and training participants as if they’ve been doing things incorrectly. Whatever they’ve been doing so far has gotten them to where they are today. I invite them to a greater understanding of conflict and practical skills to move through conflict and come out better together on the other side.
Early Challenges and Solutions
SBS – What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in the early stages of your business, and how did you overcome them?
Hanne – I started my business in May 2020, at the height of the pandemic. No one was at their office, let alone investing in (leadership) development. That was an obvious challenge. At the same time, I had nothing to lose. All my contracts as an independent contractor were put on hold. I used all the time we had in those days to put together a solid business, and I’m enjoying the fruits of that labor now.
Client Acquisition and Target Audience
SBS – How do you find and attract new clients for your business?
Hanne – Word-of-mouth is the best way for me to attract new clients. Having an online presence is also important, and so are collaborations with other leadership trainers. I have one friend who I’ve known since we were 12 years old. She has a background in art and design and delivers leadership training in which she invites her clients to think outside of the box so they can come up with new concepts or opportunities and re-energize themselves. I assist in these trainings by doing my piece on “moving through difficult conversations.”
SBS – Who is your primary target audience, and have you identified any secondary audiences that can benefit from your services?
Hanne – My primary target audience is the top decision-makers of an organization. People lead by example, whether they’re aware of it or not. I can make the biggest difference when I get to work with the top and become their outside confidant or coach. The beauty of my background is that I’ve worked with all layers of society. I can handle (confidential) information, examine it with my clients, have them leave with a clearer and more peaceful mindset, and truly leave the contents with them. The (hidden) beliefs, opinions, secrets, or hurdles they want to work through are not mine, yet we can still talk about it as friends and remain professional. We are all just human; no one is always peaceful and strategic, and I can help with that.
A secondary audience would be the layer under the top decision-makers. They find themselves in a sandwich position — they’re leaders and also have to follow. With this layer of professionals, I work on active listening skills, as well as effective speaking up skills.
Methodologies and Tools for Coaching
SBS – What tools, platforms, or methodologies do you rely on most to deliver your coaching and training?
Hanne – I’ve been teaching training since 2013, so I’ve collected a lot of content materials throughout the years. I’ve developed a few self-tests that I use with group participants. During trainings, I use freely available YouTube videos or shorts for imagery. During virtual training sessions, I use Zoom. A lot of coaching sessions are via phone calls. I’ve noticed I pay the best attention when I focus on listening. It also allows me to take notes. I don’t always have to process my notes, I use them to stay focused.
I rely mostly on my own attention and focus. I am of the best assistance when I have made myself fully available and present. My clients talk to me for my available, sharp mind and the skills I use to allow them to think clearer and become calmer.
This requires me to schedule a limited number of meetings per day, take care of myself, and be disciplined (sleep, meditation, nourishment, exposure, and my own skills development).
Business Growth and Scaling Strategies
SBS – How have you scaled your business over the years, and what growth strategies worked best for you?
Hanne – I have upgraded my business in the sense that I am keen on being a good fit with my clients. When a prospective client doesn’t seem ready, able, or willing to work with me at a certain level, I kindly decline. I can also be patient. For a little over a year, I had been waiting for my newest client, a CEO. I never pushed it. I trusted that he’d call me when he would figure it out as well. And he did.
Success Stories and Impact
SBS – Could you share a success story where your coaching significantly impacted an individual or a team?
Hanne – I don’t think we’re ever “done” with the skills I teach, so a success story would be a temporary victory, and then we’ll just move on and tackle a new topic. My biggest success is the mutual trust between my clients and me. When we reach the point of “You can tell me anything, as ugly and difficult as it can get, and I’ll do my part of active listening and asking effective questions.” We’ll always get clearer, more strategic, more peaceful, forgiving, relieved, and ahead of options or opportunities.
Differentiation in a Competitive Market
SBS – How do you differentiate your services from other similar coaches or trainers in the market?
Hanne – My services are either one-on-one or in a small group or team with 6–12 participants. I’m not good with big groups, and no one should hire me as a (keynote) speaker. My services are also differentiated because I’m not a general coach or trainer. My focus is on moving through the heart of a conflict, whether that’s internal or interpersonal.
Continuous Learning and Adaptation
SBS – In a constantly evolving field like yours, how do you ensure you stay updated and continue to learn?
Hanne – Good question! I carve out time every week to focus on self-development. I look up content online and read or re-read literature in my field. I study newsletters that come out in my field, and I’m always interested in what my collaborators have found. Next to that, I live a pretty disciplined life, which helps me show up the best I can.
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
SBS – What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to start a similar business?
Hanne – Figure out what you are truly interested in and what fits you. Answer questions such as: What is important to me? At what moments do I feel accomplished? At what moments do I feel at peace? What are the challenges I want to take on? What depletes my energy? What kind of outcomes annoy or frustrate me?
Getting clear before taking action can be really helpful and steer you in a direction that is truly for you.
SBS – Where do you see your business in the next five years, and what’s your vision for its future?
Hanne – I’m quite happy as things currently are. And I’m aware of one never-ending truth: Change is the only constant in life. I’m ready.
Interview with Hanne Wulp: Mastering Leadership Communication & Conflict Resolution
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