Communication 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.
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Created: Monday, 05 January 2015 14:58
In Lean Manufacturing, managers are required to do a lot of observation. Often, they are asked to stand in a single spot and watch a single assembly process for entire days.
One of the reasons I stayed at my Dad's assisted living apartment is so I could observe my Dad in action. I wanted to see how he operates and what he might want help with.
Now that Mom is gone, the aides assumed Dad would want them to do the laundry. When I was there before, Dad propped the laundry basket on Mom's wheelchair handles and pushed. She was his eyes at the laundry as he loaded and operated the machines.
Now that she's gone, he still does his own laundry. He can't carry the basket so he drags it with his cane. He uses the tools he has. Once the machine is loaded, he does ask an aide to start it.
He can't see much and he can't hear well. His balance is shaky. But he is at home and he enjoys his sunset days, staying as functional as someone in his situation can be. He makes it work, using the tools he has.
It's a sweet observation.
Created: Sunday, 04 January 2015 14:33
I went to see my chiropractor yesterday. His Grandfather passed the day after my Step Mom did. He said, "His last gift to us was getting the whole family together for Christmas." Very well put (if not taken too literally.)
When people asked Dad how he was doing, he replied, "Remarkably well." It was true. Everyone at assisted living was astonished since his marriage was considered a soul mate bonding. I like the way Dad put it. People expected him to be broken, and the words acknowledge that expectation. They also acknowledge the reality. We felt more touched by the divine than by darkness.
The experience was precious. That's one of the reasons I didn't post much. I haven't posted at all on FaceBook (but will soon.) I was relatively silent with my inner circle. I left after dance without viviting yesterday. I am landing at home now, and reemerging very gradually.
We're doing remarkably well, but it seems too soon to remark on it much. This is my beautiful son with me celebrating Christmas with the extended family. This is us enjoying Mom's "last gift."
PS: I forgot that the blog feed doesn't send out videos. The link to the one I posted yesterday is here,
Created: Friday, 02 January 2015 14:48
I'm back home now, sleeping in my own bed after two weeks of sleeping on the floor of my Dad's Assisted Living apartment. It was an amazingly powerful visit. I expect I'll have much to share about it. But now I'll post a GE commercial that I think is fabulous. Brilliant, entertaining and very well done. Enjoy. (If you don't see the video, click here.)
Created: Monday, 29 December 2014 14:39
Michael, one of my sister's in-laws, spoke at Christmas dinner about how he still thinks of things he plans to tell his late wife, and then remembers she's gone. This is seven years after she passed.
I mentioned that to Dad and Sis last night, since we lost Mom a little over a week ago. Both of them have those moments of forgetting she's gone when they think of something they want to tell her.
One of Sis' kids played brilliantly at a basketball game yesterday, and she used to call Mom on the way home after games like that. She almost dialed the phone before she remembered Mom is gone.
I watch for ways to support Dad and Sis, and that means listening for clues about ways to fill holes. I can't get as excited about the wins as Grandma/Mom did, and I won't fake it. But I can listen and appreciate Sis' pleasure in my own way.
Created: Friday, 26 December 2014 17:45
It's the simple things. For Bob, the motto "Space for Grace" provided a powerful focus that has literally transformed life. Now he has added the term "restoration" to guide his priorities.
Some of my Community Members benefit from other reminders about what to prioritize. We share the "ESP Report." The priorities are eating, sleeping and pooping. Once those basic priorities are taken care of, we can move on to other things. Sometimes I can be relentless - refusing to talk about relationships, communication and other things until that foundation is internalized.
One CM added "staying warm" to her ESP Report.
Often, adding complexity before the most important concerns are addressed causes the basics to get lost.
What are your priorities? How do you keep the focus?
Created: Monday, 22 December 2014 20:21
The conversation lapsed. "Now what?" Sis asked in a soft voice Dad couldn't hear. "Were pretty comforatble with silence," I told her. "We sit in silence a lot." We sat in quiet for a few minutes. Then the subject of Mom's memorial came up. That led to shared memories and intimate and meaningful discussion. Beauty emerged out of the space of our silence.
Created: Monday, 22 December 2014 00:10
"Have you said everything to your Step Mom that you need to before she goes?" my sweet friend asked me.
I had. Long before she started her decline, I had felt complete with her. I couldn't think of any words left to say before she passed. Perhaps if she was coherent enough when I got to town and saw her, more words would emerge. Now my heart was at peace.
My first flight out to be with her was cancelled after several hours of delays. I almost didn't make it to Cincinnati on Wednesday. But I booked a different airline and arrived at her room close to midnight. I wanted her to know I was there because I wanted her to know I would be with Dad and Sis when she passed. "Your father will be glad to see you," she said. Those would be her last spoken words to me.
The next morning she was alive, but unconscious. She had declined sharply in the night. We sat by her bed for 22 hours and were with her when she took her last breath.
My showing up sent my last message. It said, "I'm here. We have each other. You are free to let go when you are ready." She was ready in under 24 hours.
It was over. "Goodbye honey," my father told her. We left the room and returned to their senior community and silently shared some apple sauce before bed. Our hearts were tender, but not heavy. It was a beautiful passing in so many ways.
It's an honor to be included in someone's life and even more of an honor to be included when they pass. I am feeling very honored. Dad says the way she passed was her finest hour.
Created: Sunday, 14 December 2014 19:51
Sue 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 that 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.
Created: Wednesday, 03 December 2014 15:31
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 that when people forward something that touches them deeply, it feels personal to them. Yet, it's someone else's 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?
Created: Tuesday, 02 December 2014 17:16
My 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.
Created: Monday, 01 December 2014 16:39
Last 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.
Created: Monday, 24 November 2014 17:44
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.