Tips, tales and techniques to help you say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. Find your original voice, find the common ground between your perspective and others, and then SpeakStrong from the Synergy Center.
I Spoke Strong. I said what I meant. Well, to the best of my ability in that moment. I knew what I didn't want, I knew what I did want, and I knew why. I just didn't understand why I felt so strongly about "Amy's" behavior. Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of waiting until I knew.
It was a rough couple of days for the whole team as the chips fell and were sorted. I knew my words stung, and I don't like hurting people.
In addition to the team, I reached out to friends for support. The first person I spoke with is overcoming a victim habit. She has become incredibly articulate. She is woman, hear her roar! She made statements like, "Amy betrayed me, she wasn't at my level, I pushed her shame button because she knew I was on target. She stuck it to me in the way she apologized." When I got off the phone with my friend, my husband asked me what she had said. I told him, "She said I'm great and everyone else sucks."
Of course my friend didn't actually say that at all. Still, her words built me up at Amy's expense. I indulged, just for a while, in the power of that. In fact, that kind of power can be very seductive. I allowed myself to experience it just long enough to anchor my confidence in my own perceptions.
But the truth is, I value my relationship with Amy. I respect her. And in light of our years of working together, this transgression is a small thing. I had to address it BECAUSE I value the relationship. I couldn't rest in a perception that excluded that. Plus, any time I feel puffed up and better than others, I know a fall is around the corner.
I found balance, and then visited another friend who both clearly understood why I needed to speak, and also affirmed Amy's likely innocent intention.That set the groundwork for the next step.
I figured out why it mattered so much. I reconnected with the vision that had inspired me to hire Amy in the first place. I was able to articulate the vision and the role I hired her for in a way that the whole team could understand and commit to.
What it came down to was, I had felt betrayed because Amy had undermined a vision she had never agreed to uphold. Now, she and the rest of the team share my vision with me.
The remarkable thing is, while we fumbled to understand what happened, we never lost our sense of valuing each other or our confidence that we would get to the higher side of things. It was that bond that allowed us the freedom to not paper over it before we had learned its lessons and uncovered its gifts.
If Speaking Strong were easy, everyone would do it. It can be very challenging - and equally rewarding.
Yesterday I posted about where my focus is, including how my burning questions are changing. For example, instead of asking:
"How can I get people to click on products and buy them?"
I am wondering:
"How can I train myself to click the burner off on the stove when I'm done?"
This is not an idle question. I put the challenge in a format Toyota Kata author Mike Rother would relate to. (To learn about his method, click here for Mike's five-question coaching card.)
I was surprised when Bob added tracking for a habit he is trying to develop to my list. His habit was to fold the wool rug over in the family room at night so the cat doesn't shred it.
Let me pause to say this delights me! Bob spontaneously joined in on a process I'm working with. That simple act communicated volumes - far more than words could have. It turned my experiment into parallel journeys of discovery.
Next step - I refined my target condition to turning the burner off before I take any food out of a pan and/or before moving the pan. That target is more tied to the prep process. Not so much anticipation of the joy of eating has crept into my consciousness at that point.
This step might seem obvious and automatic to everyone on the planet who isn't me, but it was revelatory to me. When I shared the plan with Mike Rother, he replied, "I think turning the burner off before you take food out of the pan and/or before moving the pan is a great idea... deliberately practicing a new pattern."
Nothing like an ata-girl from a true pro in innovation!
So far so good :-) but Bob forgot to fold the rug last night :- ( much to the cat's delight ;-)
That reminds me of something else. A huge black bear ate a box of protein bars Bob had left out for a client yesterday. A new challenge to inspire our creativity. He was so cute...
I'm talking about the bear... AND the husband.
I really appreciate the emails I receive from time to time from readers who ask why I've been relatively silent and where I've been. My focus is shifting, and I've been deep in process for months. I've thought about you all and wanted to check in, but it's a bit like inviting friends over in the middle of a major remodeling project. My foundations are shifting, things are askew. You'll have to pardon all this mess when I invite you in.
I like the tale of the professional who efficiently climbed a success ladder, only to discover the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. That is a real danger, but this is different. SpeakStrong was the right wall for me and my readers. It was and is an important climb. I still climb the SpeakStrong ladder from time to time to find and refine my evolving voice. I can't say I've mastered saying what I mean and meaning what I say without being mean when I say it, or that I ever will.
But something else calls me now. My focus has been closer in lately. Years of career focus kept me too busy to tend my own garden—metaphorical and otherwise.
Now, my attention is shifting from questions like, "How can I juice up my training?" to "How can I put lotion on my own back and keep it moisturized?" It has gone from, "How can I add music to my webinar?" to "How can I set up music in the different areas where I operate?" It has gone from, "How can I get people to click on products and buy them?" to "How can I train myself to click the burner off on the stove when I'm done?" It has shfted from, "How can I get more done in a day?" to "How much can I gracefully do in a day? How do I prioritize so my schedule is not too full?"
"How can I be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend?"
What matters to me now is easily finding what I'm looking for. Having time to add a flourish to a completed task like straightening the sofa. It's being able to do things that the overwhelm from uncurbed ambition left no room for. I call it Space for Grace.
SpeakStrong has been a great ride. And I'm not retiring. I AM retiring from clutter, chaos and pressure.
Sometimes the best way to organize a closet it to take everything out of it first. And sometimes the best way to SpeakStrong is to stay silent until you really know what you have to say that is current, relevant and true to your soul.
And that is why I've been relatively silent for so long. (And that is also how I've been able to sort my closet enough that I can find my clothes in there now! It's a beautiful thing!)
Last summer I attended a family funeral that was decidedly impersonal. Another family member commented that there was nothing about the deceased in the service.
My husband and I experienced a very different funeral yesterday. Janet's funeral wasn't about her either: It WAS her. The entire service was in her voice. It was clearly intended to be a gift for everyone who came. And it was.
Janet had a year to plan, and plan she did. She was sure she would pass on Easter Sunday, and missed it by one hour. But Janet didn't mind, and neither did anyone else. The last few weeks of her life were filled with love, peace, grace and joy.
You could see the magic of it in the eyes of Janet's close family.
Janet Spoke Strong at her own funeral. She shared her heart, her voice, her wisdom and her love in a way we all could hear and feel. She didn't hold back who she was in any way, and it was a gift to each of us to receive her post mortem blessing. If that isn't Speaking Strong, what is?
Janet gifted each of us with copies of a book that inspires her. It is called "Heaven is for Real." It sure felt real in our goodbye gathering yesterday. Her minister said Janet was always "looking for ways to love others into the Kingdom of Heaven." She found it. Thank-you, Janet.
I was averaging ten miles per hour behind a semi-truck for about an hour, so I had plenty of time to ponder the "wide turn" sign on the back. I wondered how useful it was, considering the fact that it was pretty much only visible from about ten yards. I wondered if anyone ever missed noticing the truck was slowing down because they were trying to see what the sign on the back said.
A sign that you have to struggle to see and perhaps think about can sometimes be worse than no sign at all. It's great to create visual cues. We put stuff by the stairs that we want to take with us when we go out. That is about 99% mistake-proof for us.
But a wide turn sign should be huge enough to see at a glance while driving or not exist at all. That's my opinion, anyway.
I spoke with the most amazing tech support person yesterday. He works for a company called ZoomText. They make computer magnification aids. Does he know his clientele!
He quickly figured out that I could see the screen, unlike many of his customers and unlike my father, who is the one I'm optimizing the computer for. He adapted his guidance to my situation.
He didn't just help me with the problem I called for. He went through my entire computer and changed the settings to work best with ZoomText.
But he didn't stop there. He also went in and changed settings that add an extra step. These extra steps, like clicking on an icon to get to the homepage instead of the computer opening to it automatically, aren't that big a deal for those who can see. For low vision users, something that simple can take several minutes. This man talks to low vision users every day, and has become quite aware of what their challenges are.
He told me that Microsoft used to have the low vision settings listed under Accessories. They changed them to Ease of Access. Sounds okay, but having them listed as accessories put them at the top of the menu. It was easy for his clients to find them. Now, they have to scroll through a menu to find the option they want. He knows - that can take quite a while. It appears Microsoft doesn't know that. (Their magnifier doesn't work in the high contrast theme, which is the best theme for low vision, so there are other problems with their set-up.)
The process of helping my dad be able to use the computer is a process of listening very carefully. It's a process of observing what he does. Low vision people get tripped up on snags that others don't even notice. I stand in his shoes and I listen.
It's also a process of getting conscious about what I actually do when I do a process. I do so much of my computing unconsciously. When I try to explain what I do, I often give incorrect instructions. That can mess a low vision user up quite a bit.
My father remarked on how patient I've been with him. We run into one obstacle I never imagined, and we try something else.
But this couldn't be happening if he wasn't patient with me. I've tried many things that haven't worked. I think I've found the set-up that will. We'll see.
But it isn't really about patience. It's about awareness and love. And that keeps growing.
It took us 16 years to learn to live with each other fairly successfully, and now we're both learning to live with ourselves. We're listening to ourselves, getting to know our own hearts, quirks and natures.
We're redesigning our lives based on what we're learning about who we are—who we really are—not who we think we should be. It's a bottom up approach—led by observation, experiment and alignment. We're learning to:
It's humbling at times, but empowering overall.
Perhaps this quest will be fulfilled more quickly than the last one.
So much wisdom in Clarissa Pinkola Estes's audio "How to Become an Elder."
She speaks of being an aid in an elder home and how visitors would make strained conversation with their family members. But she, a very young woman at the time, and someone who did not know these elders well, would be able to engege them in lively dialog by talking about things she was interested in. She was learning about how Egyptians used to regard cats as gods, and that got some very lively conversations going. Pretty much everyone she spoke with had known a mystical cat in their lifetime.
Actually, that's my advice for business conversations, too. Usually, sharing what juices you gets great connection going. What do you enjoy talking about? It might result in blank stares, but it sure beats picking a topic because someone thought someone might enjoy talking about it.
I think of my friend Barb who teaches yoga. Everyone enjoys her yoga class. Why? Largely because she does.
All her email said was, "It took me a lifetime to learn to love my father."
It was a response to yesterday's post about the first man I ever loved - my Dad.
What powerful words. They were a gift. And I'll second her confession.
I'm still learning to love him. And my mom has been gone 25 years, and I'm still learning how to love her, too.
My dad is 94 today. Being 94 isn't all that easy. But it is beautiful to me. And so are the emails from my readers who let me know my words touch them. Thank you.
He's the first man I ever loved. I'm getting to know him better as I try to set him up with a computer system that he can see well enough to fulfill the last of his professional desires. He's a mathematician and he has an ambitious project that he'd like to complete.
It takes a lot of listening, learning and relating to customize a system for him. And even if the effort fails and we're forced to accept that his computing days are over, it will have been time very well spent. It's not a ruse, but at the same time, it kind of is. It's an activity that allows us to get close enough to be able to share concerns and experiences as he enters his final years.
I'm talking about my dad, of course. Dad commented that my husband is being very generous to let me spend so much time with him.
I told him the truth.
He is the first man I ever loved. He needs to know how important that is.
Page 3 of 36
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.
Subscribe in a reader
Want the blog posts delivered to your email? Enter your email address.FeedBurner will take care of the rest.
Delivered by FeedBurner
Subscribe to my FREE newsletter for practical, effective communication tips and updates on SpeakStrong activities. I send newsletters out intermittently - when I have announcements. It's rare that I send more than one a week.
A great way to communicate.
Login is for employees only, no public login is available.
Speak STRONG, Inc. 4265 Outpost Road, Cascade, CO, 80809 Tel: (719) 684-2633
Collaborative communication skills for today's busy workplace