"Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say Without Being Mean When You Say It" ~ Meryl Runion Rose                                ShoppingCart Plum NB 50

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Effective Communication Skill Blog

Alchemist in Meryl.150Communication skills are great in theory, but how are they in practice? This Effective Communication Skill Blog shows you how to walk the SpeakStrong talk. I'm Meryl Runion Rose. Join our conversation about Communication Alchemy, and saying what you mean and meaning what you say... without being mean when you say it.

The Communication Alchemist is IN. Are you IN too?

Reminding People of Their Own Wisdom

 

Pioneer HandbookSue was implementing advice I had given her. She used my exact words to tell me the benefits of the practice. Sue had taken my advice one step further, and I learned from her. I didn't mind a bit that she seemed to have forgotten that I was the one who had made the suggestion in the first place.

Sue gave me the reminder I needed. I put my own advice into deeper practice.

One value of sharing your wisdom with others is it puts them in a position to remind you when you need it. 

Here's a great quote from The Pioneer Girls Leadership Handbook

"A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."

I am blessed by the friends in my life.

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A Personal Take on an Impersonal Forward

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I like it when members of my community share posts and slogans and other gems they get online with me. I like it even more when they tell me how they relate to it personally. A personal take on an impersonal forward highlights things I might miss, shows me how knowledge and inspiration are lived (how the talk walks), and helps me know my buddies better. I understand when people forward something that touches them deeply it feels personal to them. Yet it's someone elses' words. If people don't personalize their forwards, I often will invite them to tell me what moved them. I sometimes share my own personal twist for the gems they shared with me.

 

Today I share an online gem with you. The Behavioral Scientist from Vital Smarts "share BS you can use." I love it. This particular post shows how Santa's wording can evoke generosity from the children who answer the age old question: "What do you want for Christmas?"

When Santa follows that conversation by asking what they would like to give someone for Christmas, the children show more generosity in a subsequent experiment about sharing. You can read about it here.   

What struck me about the post? Well, the before experiment, where only the "what do you want" question gets asked, gives the impression that the kids are selfish and there is no generosity to evoke. The question about giving for Christmas surfaces a generosity that an observer would assume isn't there. The second, giving question shows that it is.

Like that, when conversations get challenging, it's easy to assume there is no grace to evoke in the other person. We might not even try.  Instead, we might conclude the situation is impossible and there's nothing we can do - when in fact a simple shift can alter the dynamic. 

You don't know until you try. Yes, like all of us, there have been times when I've concluded the other really doesn't care about me, and any further efforts to find common ground is time and energy better invested elsewhere.

But there have been many other times where, by simply changing the frame or dynamic, I have discovered there is much more to this person than I had concluded from our initial exchanges. 

What do you want to give for Christmas?

If you were to forward this post, how would personalize it? What struck you personally?

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A Spirited Birthday Party

didgeridoo 400My birthday guests got high. No - it wasn't the wine. We probably went through a single bottle total. It wasn't the food, either, although a few guests proclaimed their delight at having healthy party foods they could eat. Bob was concerned that the funky looking gluten-free sugar-free birthday cake I made wouldn't suffice, but it was a huge hit.

That wasn't what got people high. It was the didgeridoo-fest. 

John brought fifteen didgeridoos. He has one, two or three didgeridoos tuned to each key. He showed us how to play and we took it from there. It was quite the cacophony. 

The highlight for me was when the cat came in and circled each instrument, settling nearby. Who would have thought she would embrace that? 

One of my guests wrote: "I was on such a high from your party it was hard to sleep. I think the didgeridoo lesson really got me oxygenated." 

I started didgeridoo because it sounded like a lot more fun than the breathing exercises some people recommended for me. It is.

Breath enlivens spirit. I had a spirited birthday party. 

Now my gears are shifting to: how do I want to enliven the Holiday Spirit this year? The inspiration (inspire - breath again) will come to me in perfect timing, just like the idea of a didgeridoo party did. In the meantime, I have bills to pay and filing to do. Grounding is a good thing too. 

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Holiday Segue

Meryl Bob Birthday-300Last week I posted about the value of using a verbal segue before changing topics.

Today I post about the value of segueing from one kind of activity to another. 

We had a magical and marvelous holiday visit from my son and charming consort. It included a fabulous and fun didgeridoo birthday party. Thanksgiving dinner was traditional and sweet. Friday we went catch-and-release fishing in a beautiful Colorado retreat. We had a magical week.

The youngsters left Saturday AM. I missed my dance and a tempting sale at my favorite small-business-retailer's shop to give them a proper goodbye. I spent the rest of the day washing sheets and tidying. In fact, I was savoring the experiences. I was segueing into my next chapter. 

We tend to pile experiences on top of each other. I think of how my husband used to flip through television channels the second show credits started running. I told him I needed a few moments to segue - to digest the show we had just seen. I don't need a lot of time. Just a moment to transition. He shares that preference with me now. 

This is me and my big guy at the didgeridoo party. It's Monday now, and we're back to business. It doesn't feel too abrupt. We're ready because we segued. 

By the way, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The youngsters allowed themselves a day after working before drivingout here from Iowa, and they left Saturday to give themselves some time to segue as well.

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From a "Soulless" Work Environment to a "Kindness" One

During the exit interview, "Laurie" couldn't think of a good way to describe why she was leaving her job. "So you're leaving because it's stressful here?" the interviewer asked. No, Laurie thought - that's not quite it. But she didn't have better words for it. 

In creating her resume for a new job, Laurie noted that one of her leading qualities is that she's nice. After her experience at the previous cutthroat workplace, she doubted that trait would enhance her resume...

...until she checked the website of the company she was applying to work for. Kindness was listed as one of the core values.

Laurie applied and got the job she wanted. It was and is an excellent fit. 

The contrast gave Laurie the experience she needed to voice why she left the previous job. The previous work environment was hostile, unsupportive and inappropriately competitive. It was soulless. 

Funny how a taste of kindness can clarify what's unacceptable.

 

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PowerPhrase Segue: In Other Realms...

Bob shared a vibrant description of his experience after someone had said some potentially inflamatory things to him. Bob said, "I saw potential negative emotions swirling around me like dementors (Harry Potter reference), but they didn't have anywhere to land. I wasn't detached - I was serene." He went on to mention how he could see exactly where the other person was coming from. 

What a fabulous image. In terms of the styles, I would say his inner Harmonizer and his inner Visionary were working together to language his experience. 

Then Bob switched topics. We've learned that when we make a big switch in topics like that, some kind of segue is helpful. We both like the phrase: "In other news." 

However, because his new topic was very mundane, concrete and practical, we opted for:

  • In other realms...

It's a great segue for those of us who have a clear delineation of styles/realms. You might want to stick to: 

  • In other news

or some other segue for those not in the "know."

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Solving Problems is Easy When You...

Round Style Graph 300I once had a dream that concluded that "solving problems is easy when you work at the right level." That's all I remember from the dream, but just that much was powerful for me. One of the reasons I like the communication styles so much is that communication is much easier if you speak at the right level - or in the best style for your listener and the situation.

I had a great time writing a review for the book The Compassionate Geek. I particularity enjoyed mentioning: "Like it or not, IT issues can be emotional triggers." Too many techies see their job simply as a mechanical one. The best techies understand that developing their soft skills is part of the job. You can't solve a relationship problem at a technical level any more than you can solve a technical problem at a relationship level.

We're all a bit like the man with a hammer who sees the world as a nail. My main style is Visionary: I like to express the expansive nature of my spirit. I've had to balance that with my inner Harmonizer, and express the relational nature of my heart and soul. I've had to balance that with my inner Analyzer, and express the logical nature of my mind. I've had to balance that with my inner Achiever, and assert the primal nature of my will.

If you take the quiz, please know it's a work in progress. There hasn't been much outer progress as I've been developing my weaker side by making friends with concrete reality. But the seeds are planted and sprouting. I see style work as powerful and transformative. It's so powerful that I had to stop talking about it and narrow my focus to living it. The outcome will be worth the wait. 

Yesterday I wrote about elevating words. They are golden when elevation is called for. So are clarifying words, harmonizing words and grounding, motivating words.

Solving problems is easy when you work at the right level. That's what my dream told me. The dream is just the beginning. I've been exploring that message in spirit, soul, mind and concrete reality. 

Where have you been attempting to solve a problem at the wrong level?

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Elevating Words

balloon icon 300hToday my inbox was blessed with elevating words from a Community Member (CM). I say elevating because that is exactly what they were. Yes, they were also encouraging and supportive, but CM chose her words carefully to invoke an elevated attitude toward an important conversation I will have today. CM anchored the bigger picture for me.

How did she do that? By sharing details of how her preparation for an important conversation enabled her to rise above the turmoil and see the bigger picture. She wrote of how her preparation kept her from being taken by surprise and thrown off balance, enabling her to stay centered through it all. 

CM gifted me with imagery. How could that be so great... imagery is imaginary! Well... imagery is a powerful guiding element in life and communication. I use imagery in all my communication to keep my own center and to invoke constructive pictures for others.

Imagery doesn't replace critical thinking and other preparation, but it certainly empowers it. I so appreciate the gift.  

How do you use imagery?

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Email as a Tool for Graceful Clarity

email 200It's pretty much an unwritten rule that you don't address issues in email. So why have I been doing just that?

Because I differ. When conversations touch hot buttons and get confused, email provides Space for Grace - space where grace can enter in between the trigger and the reaction. It also provides a record of what was actually said so the people involved can go back and see just where the conversation got derailed. That allows for course corrections at specific points of confusion.

What I don't "approve of" is when people hide behind email. For example, sending an email that states your position and closes with "enough said" is controlling and counter-productive. If I raise a potentially touchy issue in email, I make sure to communicate my willingness and desire to speak in "real-time" - either face-to-face or by phone. 

Tomorrow I meet with someone after a series of emails addressing a challenge in our working relationship. The emails have given me the clarity to know what I want and need moving forward and the specifics to prepare to respond effectively should we meet resistance. I have studied the points of confusion and developed clarity. I have studied the points of promise and am ready to build on them. I know what I am willing to accept and what my options are should we not reach understanding. 

I told her I believed we could get past this, and I do. As one of my preparation resources, I have immersed myself in the most beautiful song imaginable. It's the Prayer of Saint Francis by Simon De Voil. I recently sent it to a Community Member when she was triggered and she said it "took her out of herself."  It expanded her perspective of the situation. It's a great balance to the focused part of my preparation.

You can download the song without charge at Simon De Voil's site. http://simondevoil.bandcamp.com/ I post the simple lyrics below. Yes, it's a prayer. If that's not your thing, I invite you to translate it into a form that can inspire you. Just be sure to do the footwork, too. 

PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS


Lord make me a channel of your peace
grant that I can see through my human pain
and still feel loved
And in the darkness
let light be found in there


Lord make me a channel of your peace
we all need to learn to forgive
a few more hundred times
Melt our hatred
let love take root in our hearts


Lord make me a channel of your peace
through my own pain and need
let me learn to understand
Reach through our sadness
let it be joy
Lord make me a channel of your peace

 

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The Trap of Models like the Drama Triangle

Spider web 400A Community Member (CM) told me about a situation where she had been blindsided and lost a contract without any previous clues, discussion or signals. I mentioned that the client obviously had not communicated well. CM replied that contract workers don't get to point fingers. CM is wise indeed to take responsibility for the breakdown. 

That said, it's also important to notice when someone else doesn't communicate clearly and in earnest. It's part of seeing the reality of any situation. We learn from everything, and one possible lesson in this experience is that things are not always as they appear on the surface. The next step is to explore ways to apply that learning.

 

Yesterday, I posted about the villain/victim/hero Drama Triangle. I got to experience that dynamic first hand, both from my own slippage and from communication that was heavily laden with villain and victim language. Identifying those triggers helped me separate myself from the dynamic.

There is a trap in the Drama Triangle model as there is in applying any model. What's that?

Models take you into your mind. They are discernment tools, and the shadow side of discernment is judgment. Also, labels create a focus that can obscure seeing things that aren't a part of that label. The person might be reduced to a label.

I am in the midst of a communication challenge with a Service Provider (SP) I prepaid for services. Like a marriage, where there is too much invested to dismiss the other when they trigger us, the prepayment of services is something of a blessing in that not having an easy out inspires us to go more deeply into the issues.

By seeing where SP gets heavy-handed, (invokes the Villain Archetype) and where SP plays helpless (invokes the Victim Archetype), I understand the situation better and can stay conscious of where I might react to those dynamics. I just need to avoid using the model to objectify someone I am in relationship with. Analysis and discernment are a part of the process, but not a center to communicate in difficult conversations. 

I balance the clarity from analysis with grace of prayer, visualization and affirmation. I needed to wait to respond until my head was supporting my heart, not running the show. Sp is human, and I need to be centered in my own humanity before taking the next step. 

Prayer, visioning, affirmations - there are many ways to balance critical thinking for effective communication. You know what takes the edge off cold analysis for you. Go there before you open your mouth. 

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Beyond the Drama Triangle

villain.victim.heroBetty uses wonderful imagery when she gets emotionally triggered. She pictures herself as being on a journey to a mountain top, and having fallen into a hole for a while. 

I love that image. I added that most of us see this kind of slippage as deviation from the path, and we want to get out of the hole as quickly as possible. It's no fun to feel like a victim. We want the direct path to empowerment. However, slippage is a part of the direct path - even for advanced practitioners. The SpeakStrong Method (and book***) provide tools to learn and benefit from every experience, even ones where we regress into a five-year old. 

 

I had my own slippage yesterday. I am having a communication challenge with a service provider whom I prepaid. I told my friend that the situation was "nibbling on me."

I let myself be in my "nibbled on" (aka victim), hole. I looked around and learned from it... but I didn't stay there. After deep reflection and processing the situation stopped nibbling on me. I started to nibble on it

What's the difference? While I am vulnerable to the machinations of the long-suffering and the hoops and deflections of the perpetrators, in my center, I refuse to be a player in anyone's drama triangle. I stand as an observer of it. I still explore every power play and poor-me message the dramatist send: without feeling subservient to any of them. Specifically, I do not allow her victim declaration to polarize me into the role or into the self-characterization of persecutor, nor do I feel the need to be the hero to caretake for a woman I paid to care for me and my needs. I can honor the success that keeps her so busy and I can empathize with her life struggles that make it difficult to honor all her commitments... and I still expect to be treated as a valued client. 

And, oh, my my, is she ever giving me juicy illustrations of the villain/victim/hero triangle. This isn't my first choice of a good time. It is quite a learning opportunity to practice staying in my center, and being clear, kind and direct. In other words, to practice Speaking Strong. 

***The offer of a SpeakStrong or PowerPhrases book at not cost with any order ends tonight. See yesterday's post. 

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Today and Tomorrow: SpeakStrong or PowerPhrases for F R E E with ANY Book Order

My shopping cart and email service are up for renewal so it was decision time. I hadn't sent out a newsletter in over two years, and my orders weren't covering my costs. I hesitated to close it out because I kept thinking I'd be shifting focus back to my business any day now, and I'd want the resource. 

I weighed the options and possibilities and decided to close my bookstore and newsletter down. I have 8,000 newsletter subscribers, and only about 400 blog subscribers, so I composed a parting email to my newsletter list, encouraging them to subscribe to my blog.

As I ran my test emails, I remembered that one of the reasons I had waited to close things down was because I wanted to make some special offers before I give up the store. I hadn't run any specials or even emailed a hello because my attention was consumed by my health and Lean2Life clearing, and filling orders seemed like a distraction. Yesterday I decided I was ready.

I got a flood of orders and some wonderful notes of appreciation from old SpeakStrong friends who hadn't found the blog yet.

So here's the offer. My cart will close on Friday the 14th. Today and tomorrow, as long as my store is up, I am giving away a free copy of SpeakStrong or PowerPhrases for ANY book order.

Go to my bookstore and place an order for any book that suits your fancy. Then, scroll down to the comments/special instructions and tell me which book you prefer.

http://www.speakstrong.com/store/books

Then, picture me going into the shed where I keep my inventory in the 5 degree weather we are enjoying today. ;-) 

Happy to do it! This really is a great offer. 

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Article Use

Please copy, quote, distribute, share and publish these articles with the following credits.

©2014 Meryl Runion Rose. Meryl is a Certified Speaking Professional and the Creator of the SpeakStrong Method of Dynamically Effective Communication. Find her at www.SpeakStrong.com

Let me know how you use them. Thanks!  

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