"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?

The Backwards Apology

Sorry Corner Cry 200"I'm sorry!" Nancy exclaimed with a trembling voice.

Rose's heart sank just a little. "You have nothing to be sorry for," Rose tried to explain. "Things change and our working together is a learning process. We've outgrown how we did things, and I'd like us to work together to set a new direction that works for us both."

Try as Rose did to get Nancy on board with her intent, clearly Nancy had gone under. Nancy's "sorry's" kept her from being able to understand what Rose was aspiring toward. That's common in improvement efforts – people hear a desire to grow and improve as criticism of how things are.

Nancy kept being sorry, and Rose started to feel sorry that she had raised the issue. Not that staying silent had been an option.

Rose understood the tendency to collapse, go unconscious and default into apologies. She recalled one client who had missed an appointment.

"I came on time for the appointment but the door was locked," the client complained.

Yes, just as she had told him it would be. Just as she told all her clients. The front door to the building stays locked and the back door remains open, so go in the back door and walk up the stairs. Bring my number with you in case you have any problems and I'll come down to greet you.

So why had Rose apologized to him as if she had committed some egregious error? Even as her "sorry's" came out of her mouth it felt backwards. If any "sorry's" were in order, he should be apologizing to her. In fact, he should be offering to pay her for the missed appointment. Yet, Rose continued to say how sorry she was, even as something inside her screamed in protest to her self-betrayal. 

That was many years ago. Now, as Nancy apologized when she had done no wrong, Rose was tempted to apologize for hurting her feelings. But she refrained. Nancy had nothing to apologize for, and neither did Rose. They might not get through it in this conversation. But it was time for a change, and Rose knew that could be a process. Her heart hurt as the conversation came to it's necessary close and Nancy told her "I need to cry." It was hard to let it rest there. Yet Rose trusted that their mutual respect and love would get them through to a new level. Eventually.

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Inside

Rose bounded in to share her gratitude with Tony. She told him: "Holding someone while they have a release like you held me yesterday is kind of like holding them while they throw up." 
Tony smiled. "Yeah - and holding their hair back so it wouldn't get anything on it. Good metaphor."
"It's an act of love." Rose planted a kiss on Tony's cheek and meandered off to her next adventure. She called her friend Angie. 

"I'm reading a book I've had a long time," Angie told Rose. "It's called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die."
"Buried alive," Rose mused. "You never know what's in there until you let it out." For me, it's mostly energy these days, although I can work up a case sometimes."  

Rose revisited a CD she recorded 20 years before. One song, Inside, touched her now. You can hear it here. http://www.speakstrong.com/audio/06%20Inside.m4a

Here are the lyrics. 

Inside:

Well, he slammed the door and stomped his feet,
Called her names I won't repeat.
He told her he would not be coming back.

He took the keys and took the car,
Drove off to a local bar
Where everyone could tell his mood was black.

On the inside his heart was breaking
From the beating it was taking.
Inside he could not stand the pain.

He felt alone, he felt neglected,
Undervalued and rejected,
Unappreciated and constrained.

She watched him leave and heaved a sigh,
Had a twenty hankie cry,
Then she poured her heart to a friend,

It hurt when her man wouldn't listen
When she told him what was missing.
He was way too easy to offend.

But on the inside she was filled with terror, 
Frightened she had made an error
Her body shook. Her face was almost white.

It scared her every time he'd shout.
It made her question. Made her doubt.
She lost her resolve when they would fight.

Well it scared him that her words were true. 
Frightened him how much she knew.
He was so afraid to be exposed.

It scared him he was in so deep.
He didn't know he'd made the leap.
He wasn't quite as free as he'd supposed.

On the inside he felt regret
That he had gotten so upset.
He was sorry for the things he said.

He told the people at the bar
He was a fool to go so far
Now he'd make the choice for love instead.

She wished that she had used more tact
Pointing out a painful fact.
She wish that she had tip-toed around his pride.

She wished that he had never flung
Harsh words with a biting tongue
When half the things she said weren't justified.

But on the inside her heart was open,
She heard a car and she was hoping
He would soon be walking through the door.

And there he was: his arms extended,
A hug. A kiss. Their hearts were mended
To live, love learn and fight again some more.

Through anger, sorrow, fear, regret - 
The heart forgives. The mind forgets,
And they'll live, love, learn and fight again some more.

copyright 2014, Meryl Runion Rose

Rose's life had never been quite as dramatic as the song implies. But the song did capture a powerful time in her life. Now, many years later, those dynamic energies were awakening in her again, but more as pure energy. Ready to be experienced on the Inside... and dynamically lived.

She had howled at the moon, and now she felt ready to take on the world.

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When Did You Stop...?

In earlier times, when someone came to the village elders with some kind of malaise, the wise women asked:

  • When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop listening to the birds chirp and watching the butterflies flit about on the flowers? When did you stop playing?

I learned this from my wise woman friend. She just returned from camping. We were riding home from dance. My friend loved the hour of conversationless, unscripted, community movement. 

My variations of the village elder questions are:

  • When did you stop saying what you mean and meaning what you say without being mean when you say it?
  • When did you stop doing the things that make you whole?

And...

  • When will you start doing them again?

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Alive Inside

Want to bring an elder back to life? Play music from a powerful time in their lives. There is a documentary called Alive Inside about that. Here's the trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVkrI1R0XjA

You don't have to be seriously diminished for this to have power for you. Bob and I (and our cat Cindi) danced through the house to the band Iron Butterfly's Inna Gadda Davida this morning. I don't mind at all that Bob bonded with his first wife to that band and song. This morning we shared the energy it awakens with each other. 

Energy is energy. I like it.

Revisit my previous post, Stir Ashes, Find Embers

No need to wait until the light is almost out to stir the embers. There is buried treasure everywhere in our lives if we can recognize it. 

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The Master Manipulator

CinderellaShe's a master manipulator, yet I love her. 

  • She invites me in and then makes it difficult to connect.
  • She elicits an invitation, and then stalls as if undecided.
  • She approaches me and then turns away just short of reach. 

It took me a while to realize she was working me. It took me a while to conclude she liked the game. It took a while to stop playing her game.

Who is she? She's my cat Cindi. Princess Cindi-rella. 

Cindi comes up as if she wishes to be petted. Half the time she enjoys the strokes. The other half of the time, she pulls back as soon as I reach for her.

Cindi stands at the edge of my reach when I attempt to brush her. Cindi looks at me invitingly. I extend myself. A few brush strokes into her brushing, I discover she has pulled away little by little and I am off my center reaching for her. 

Cindi stands at the door asking to be let out. Cindi stands there as long as I let her, as if deciding whether or not she wants to go out.

Cindi is really playing a game. Things are not as she wants them to appear.

My body told me before my mind did. My body knows what being manipulated feels like. 

 

Now, think of Cindi's behaviors as metaphors. Do you know people who play games like this? I do. Like Cindi, I can't convince them to stop playing their game. The game is too engrained.

But I CAN stop taking the bait. I can listen to my body when it tells me I'm being manipulated and I can stop putting myself out to help when they are only working me. 

Then I can love them without feeling manipulated.

Now excuse me while go brush my sweet cat. She's a master manipulator, yet I love her. 

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Ron Johnson's Rousing Speech About the Killing of Michael Brown

Have you heard Captain Ron Johnson's powerful speech to the Ferguson Missouri community? I've been concerned about the militarization of our police force for a long time. It really hit me with Katrina when people who were seeking help in crisis were treated as criminals and suppressed with weapons of war.

There was darkness and overreach in Ferguson. There is also great beauty there. Captain Ron Johnson humbly gives voice to that beauty - and draws out the gorgeous humanity of the citizens there.

Watch it here.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlgsgasUzbk

The simple truth is incredibly powerful. Personal expression moves mountains. We are human - so human - and embracing that humanity is what will get us through our challenges intact. 

What moved me the most was Johnson's affirmation that the tragedy of Michael Brown's death would transform them all and make them better people. I know the biggest tragedies in my life have been my greatest teachers. It's an incredible gift to be reminded of that while you are walking through your fire instead of figuring it out years later. 

Watch the video - he is a master of Speaking Strong.

 

Ouch!!! Yikes!!! I read this morning's headline.

Ron Johnson DOES have his work cut out for him. At least I trust the wisdom of his captainship.

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True to What You Do

Tea Pot 200

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony put down the sheet of paper he was holding and leaned in toward his client. He said:

  • I don't know why you come to me. You know I treat the root cause of illness, and that means you probably will feel worse before you feel better while I take you through the die-off process. Yet, every time you start to feel bad you do something that stops the process. You say you want to learn from me, but you seem too intent on proving how much you know to listen. You don't ask questions, you argue. You finish my sentences for me, and most of the time, your completion isn't where I was going with my point. Yet, you tell me I'm helping you and you want to work with me. It seems to me that what you really want is a practitioner who will relieve all your symptoms and let you get on with your life without dealing with the root cause. It's like the restaurant owners who get on Kitchen Nightmares because their businesses are failing, but try to teach Chef Ramsey how to run a restaurant.

Let that settle in for a minute.

There is a Japanese tale that illustrates the frustration of trying to work with someone who isn't open to receive. It goes like this:

"The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor's cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: 'Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in.'
Nan-in said: 'Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.'"

Sometimes when Tony confronts clients like this, it results in a conversation that gets them on the same page. Other times the client talks like he or she is ready to get on board and changes just enough to stay a client, much like the employee who only does good work before the performance review. There are times when the client argues that they really are on board and Tony needs to pull the plug unilaterally.

Then there are times when Tony and his clients jointly decide they aren't a match. They dissolve the working relationship.

Do you have anyone in your world who says they want what you do? Someone who says they agree to your terms, but in practice they are redefining the relationship on their own terms?

Maybe it's time to have a conversation like Tony does. For Tony, it's the difference between loving his work and hating it. What difference might it make for you?

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Only Human

Rose was in the middle of watching the second season of The Good Wife. Now, resting on her bed, something struck her. The hero of the show, Alicia Florrick, was going through heart-wrenching devastation, but they never showed her cry. She was admirable, strong, succinct, tough - but she never collapsed into an emotional release. 

Rose remembered a movie she had seen years before where the hero, a television anchor, collapsed on her bed and cried every time she found herself alone. Then she pulled herself back together and focused.

Rose could keep it together if she needed to. But now she let down. She had felt blocked and lethargic. Now she sensed emotion and invited it to talk to her. It spoke, not in words, but in wails. She let it fly.

Her husband Tony heard her and came in to rub Rose's feet as her emotions erupted. When did he stop feeling threatened by the power of her releases? Rose adored him for that. 

The tide turned, the storm subsided and Rose felt whole. She turned on Pandora radio: Christine Perri's song Human came on. Unlike Alicia, but like Christine, Rose could be a good machine, but let herself be human.

These are the lyrics. 

Human

I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
If that's what you want
Be your number one

I can fake a smile
I can force a laugh
I can dance and play the part
If that's what you ask
Give you all I am

I can do it
I can do it
I can do it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that's what you need
Be your everything

I can do it
I can do it
I'll get through it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

I'm only human
I'm only human
Just a little human

I can take so much
'Til I've had enough

'Cause I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

And the video: (Al - no vampires on this one.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2X43XF8247E 

Maybe, by the time Rose got to season five of The Good Wife, Alicia would break down and have a good cry. If so, would Peter (or Will) be able to rub her feet and be there with her when she did? In the meantime, Rose would live her humanity now. 

You're invited to this party. Speaking Strong and authenticity isn't just about being tough all the time. It's also about honoring your right to be human. Rose's emotional alchemy moved by it's own path, not a linear one, but this is a good tool should you want one. Emotional Alchemy Through the "Love Letter"

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Yes, But Does He Whistle?

Whistle 400When I like what a teacher teaches, I yearn to see how the teacher walks. I learn more from experiencing how someone lives than from hearing them talk about life principles. Some people talk a great, line but don't walk the talk.

That's why many of my best teachers aren't officially teachers at all. Like Fred, our mail carrier. As he drives from mailbox to mailbox, I hear him whistle.

No intense driving rock and roll blasting from his radio. Just a whistle.

When people recommend teachers to me, I want to know - does he (she) whistle? 

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Addicted to Teaching

teach listen group 400"You should teach what you're learning with your sabbatical to others," my friend told me.

My friend is a respected leader. She teaches all the time. It's a habit for her. I replied: 

  • I might end up doing that, but for now, I'm doing this for me. I am very careful about keeping the process pure. If I make it what I'm doing for others, it could taint the discovery process for me. I need to see my own world through my own eyes and drop my habit of turning everything into a teaching point.

It's tough for me to explain how transformational backing away from the teacherly role has been. And how seductive the desire to teach can be.

It's tough for me to not get caught in wanting to teach my friend what a difference it makes to break the habit of always being the teacher. 

I shared my observations and sat back and let her teach me. I'm learning a lot these days.

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Silence Can Say More Than a Thousand

A reader sent me this graphic:

Understanding

 

I love it.

I have a new friend like that. When we hike, sometimes we speak and sometimes we are silent. But we are always communicating. 

These friends are a blessing.

People who require explanations are a blessing, too. They force us to get clear. They force us to be specific. There are times when I think my copy editor might understand me too well, because she knows what I mean without a lot of explanation. I can jump from A to D and she's right there with me. At times, that keeps us from recognizing that some of my readers need me to take them from A to B to C to D. It can be frustrating when I think my point is crystal clear and my reader doesn't get it - but it is clarifying, too. 

My husband is a linear thinker and asks to be walked through many of my Quantum Leaps. That's changing, though. He's making leaps of his own. I'm loving that, but will need to keep plenty of linear thinkers in my orbit for... not a reality check... but a linear reality check. 

The last Chapter in my PowerPhrases book says, "The purpose of words is to create silence."

The easy silence of everything that needed to be said having been said. The easy silence of communication without words. 

 

I just glanced at my answering machine and saw my new friend left a message. She just called to say, "Thank you for sharing your big heart." No other purpose. She was specific about what I had done that touched her. Her specifics augment her appreciation. Her few words augment our sweet silence. She and the reader who sent the graphic altered the trajectory of my day. 

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I Have No Idea What I Mean - Do You?

Recorder Digital NB"Email Kris about accounting."

What the heck does that mean? 

I'm referring to a memo from me to me on my digital recorder. Kris is my sister, and we have no accounting questions. 

Oh, wait. I have another Kris in my life. She does a thing called Stretch Therapy and I had asked her to send me an accounting of how many sessions we have had and how many remain. That was a week ago, and she hasn't sent it, so I want to remind her. THAT'S what my memo is talking about. 

 

Okay, if I have to struggle to figure out my OWN messages, what is it like for others to get a clue what the heck I'm referring to? 

It's good practice for me to leave memos to myself that I don't have to decipher. It's a start, anyway. Obviously, it's a bigger challenge for someone else who never knew what I intended when I left the memo. 

 

As an aside, soften your focus and look at the image on the left. Doesn't it look like a face - kind of a perplexed emoticon? The message at the top is the brain, the buttons below are eyes, the circle is a nose and the bottom buttons make a mouth. 

Did I explain that image clearly? Do you see it?

 

Now I'd better email Kris about accounting - or re-record my memo to self with more details. 

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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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I blog daily when I have a lot to say. When I don't have much to say, I stay silent. Kind of how it outta be, don't you think? Lots of great communication tips.

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