"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?

What Looks Like Death to Some Feels Like Life to Me

Tea chicken feetMy theme song this week is "Feeling Alive Again" by Goldfrapp. Her makeup looks like death to me, but the song is life.

Wednesday I bought chicken feet for my soup broth. I also got some very strange looking (and bitter tasting) herbs from my acupuncturist. When she told me she had a bag of herbs for me, I pictured a one-inch square tea bag, not a lunch sack filled with unrecognizable bark and roots. 

Both looked a bit like death, but are very life-giving.

I AM feeling alive again. Yay! I don't care what my herbs look like, or taste like, and I'll cook up chicken feet every day if that's what it takes to jump-start spring in my heart, body and soul. I am grateful. 


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How Are You?

Voice bubblesAfter my "What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?" post, a couple of readers mentioned that they have little patience with people who ask, "How are you?" when the asker clearly doesn't care.

I generally don't enjoy questions when I know the asker doesn't care about the answer, but I have made peace with the "How are you?" question. I figure most people don't mean it literally, so I don't need to reply literally. Usually I keep it simple by saying, "Good. You?" But sometimes I take it as an opportunity to talk about whatever I want. 

The knee-jerk response to a question is to answer it as asked. Instead, I pretend they just said, "Hi," or asked, "What's on your mind that might be interesting?" If I want to, I might tell them about the insight I had, or how I scored at a sale or how much better I felt after I hiked. 

If I don't want to share myself, I'll just say, "Good. You?" And I go about my business.

What's different about the "How are you?" question from the favorite cookie question is that it's a greeting, not a trick. They're not asking how I am to set me up for something they want me to do.

Also, we expect the question so we have the option of preparing.

As for me, I napped in my meditation this morning and was groggy afterwards. I hiked and I did feel better after. I'm happy about that.

That's how I am. How are you?

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He Spoke the Words We Dared Not Speak

Computer wiresBob and I were thinking it, but Noel is the one who said it.

  • I think we're done.

When you fix things at the root and you create integrated systems, it can seem like an endless process. Would we ever arrive? We were thinking we had, but only Noel dared speak the words.

Noel is our new computer tech. Noel is amazing. We're actually glad that our previous computer guy changed the network in a way that created all kinds of problems, and then went on vacation. That forced us to find Noel.

Noel got everything working as it should and connected the pieces. Two of my USB ports weren't working. I have numerous ports, but Noel insisted on fixing the broken ones anyway. That required him to know what kind of mother board I have, and since it's at the bottom of the computer, that required him to take the computer apart. In the process, he removed some wires that went nowhere and discovered some loose screws that had been left on the bottom of the unit. 

He even tamed the jungle of wires in the back of my computer. His comment was,

  • It's called pride in your work.

It took a long time. We joke, "What time is Noel coming today?" because he has become part of our lives. He will be back for this and that, but as for the major overhaul, (do I dare say it?),

  • I think we're done.


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A Girl Scout Cookie PowerPhrase - or Poison Phrase?

PowerPhrase 300"Would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?" I don't eat cookies. My answer is easy. It's "No." (Well, "No thanks.")

But Seth Godin recommends a different phrase. He suggests they ask:

  • What is your favorite kind of Girl Scout Cookie?

Mine is mint chocolate, although the peanut-butter ones have their appeal. I was a Camp Fire Girl, and I liked the mint chocolate candies.

See how it starts a conversation?

However, PowerPhraser beware! This PowerPhrase is a manipulative Poison Phrase if you're not really interested in the answer. The power is in the rapport, shared experience and the conversation. That's true of pretty much every pre-pared phrase you can use. Put your heart in it and make it your own, and it can be mutually beneficial. 

Use it to "work" someone, and you may sell cookies, but you lose a bit of your soul.


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PowerPhrase: Sorry to Skype and Run

PowerPhrase 300Rikkie would communicate very intensely and then disappear. When we finished our sessions, she fired off all kinds of observations and summaries. I took my time to reflect and sent my recommendations the next day. Rikkie never responded to them. But when she was ready for a new session, she would contact me.

I coach real-time. That means I let people know what promotes clarity and what doesn't in our communications with each other. Rikkie's intensity and then absence feels very one-sided and controlled to me.

One example of this is her tendency to send a Skype message and then leave. She Skypes and runs - which leaves no room for reply.

Sometimes we need to do that. Just now I apologized to Angela for that. I ended my Skype message with:

  • Sorry to Skype and run.

After all, conversations are intended to go two ways.



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When Business and Personal Colide: A PowerPhrase

PowerPhrase 300Some say you should never mix business and personal. It's a good rule if your friendships are superficial and you need to walk around issues. It makes no sense if your friendships are deeply supportive, the business relationship is mutually beneficial, and the communication is good. That's my experience, anyway.

I've had business relationships that have been great matches but weren't matches for frienships. I've had friendships that were great matches but didn't work for business. In both cases, we tried to expand our relationships and backed off.

I've also had and have business relationships with some of my dearest friends, and friendships with some of my most treasured professionals. In both cases, we needed to SpeakStrong at times to keep things fluid and fresh.

Rob had the same experience with a client/friend. Despite his more than fair invoices, Rob's friend would wince every time he got the bill. After too many occasions of this, Rob told him:

  • If I have to choose between a business and personal relationship with you, I'd prefer to have you as a friend and lose you as a client. I'd rather do that than hear you b&#%! about the bill, because it hurts my heart. But I'd rather keep you as a friend ans a client.

The message was received as intended.  


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A Magical Mystery April Fools

Cutting cakeIt's our second anniversary. Bob and I are excited about our work and our lives. It feels like spring inside.

Outside, the wind has stopped howling. It's brisk, but not agitated. We have some green grass in our yard. It feels like spring is springing outside.

Are we just April Fools? I hope so. I hope we stay that way, too. All this seriousness had its place. Now we're ready to dance on the foundations we built. 

It has been a challenging two years, but it has also been a magical mystery tour.


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Getting Nowhere Fast is Getting Us Somewhere Worth Being

recycling computers 300I tried to take a bath and and the knob came off in my hand. Bob tried to turn the oven on and it didn't work. I tried to vacuum and the wheels fell off the vacuum. All within a few hours of each other. All very trying.

This has been the norm, not the exception lately. By lately, I mean since we married April 1, 2012. Recent challenges aren't as severe as the fires and floods we weathered, but they do keep us from moving forward.

Our "digital dude" reset our computer network and went on vacation. Problems emerged like a whack-a-mole. We kept thinking we had solved the issue at least long enough to be able to operate until our tech guy returned, and we kept being proven wrong. I don't exaggerate when I tell you that running a business with computer issues like this is traumatic for Bob.

My health has been improving, and I felt wildly energetic at dance. I leaped into the air and landed on my hip and hand. I could barely use my left hand. Happily, that injury only took a handful of days to heal.

But hope springs eternal. Plus the lessons that are the gifts of the adversities are powerful and deep. We're working as a team better than ever. My health woes have caused me to embrace a huge discovery process in the kitchen and I am nourishing myself better than ever. I am getting my spirit back and have even gained a couple of pounds from my tiniest me. We found a new tech guy who knocked our socks off.

On one level, we're getting nowhere fast. On another level, we're getting somewhere worth being.

I will ease back into dance abandon, enjoying the subtleties as I rebuild. We will keep fixing what breaks, looking for new and better solutions to our challenges. We're rebuilding foundations from the ground up.

Bob just told me it's kind of like changing the course of a huge cruise ship. It can change, but it's a slow process. Nice simile.

We really are transforming our lives. And that takes time. And patience.

Bob is toasting his nuts in a skillet right now. You know, since the oven isn't working...yet.



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How My Handyman Can Tell I Have My Act Together

handyman 300Bob emptied and cleaned the inside of the composte canister and set it to dry. Not noticing, I emptied my tea leaves into the canister shell, and, of course, they landed on the counter. I laughed.

Our handyman witnessed the event and commented,

  • That's how you can tell someone has their act together. They laugh when they do stupid things.

Now, in a perfect world, I'd not refer to what I did as "dong stupid things." But I give him a pass on that. I think he has his act together to notice such things.

How about you? How together is your act? Thnk about it next time you "do a stupid thing"?


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All Busy-Ness and Nothing Personal

PowerPhrase 300Near the close of a webinar I gave a few weeks back, the host shared one of her favorite PowerPhrases. It's from the PowerPhrases "Quick Reference Guide." Her favorite phrase is:

  • Thanks for giving me your feedback. It's useful for me to know how you view it.

My response to that was:

  • Thanks for sharing your favorite PowerPhrase. It's useful for me to know how people use the tools I give.

I do appreciate personalized feedback, especially if it contains wisdom and insight. Feedback, and a thank-you if appropriate create a sense of completion.

Interestingly, I haven't received any feedback or a thank-you, from that webinar. Was the webinar all business and nothing personal?

Could be. My guess is it was all busy-ness, and the silence is nothing personal. 

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The Flavor Bible - A creative guide, not a rule book

Flavor Bible 300I found the cookbook I was looking for. I wanted something to give me ideas of what works with what. I have The Joy of Cooking - but it doesn't make the same food choices I do. I wanted something to support my creative cooking process, not give me static formulas. I wanted something to help me use what I have, not send me to the store for something I might not need, because there are other options with similar qualities on my shelf.

I found it in The Flavor Bible. The quotes below show exactly why it's a fit for me.

"Cooking at its most basic level is a creative act, one of transforming food through the application of heat and the incorporation of other ingredients. But there are different orders of creativity, and merely following a recipe is a creative act of the most basic order like painting by numbers.

"When accomplished cooks grow restless, they start to analyze instructions before following them to see if they can improve upon the results, thus raising the act of cooking to a creative act of a higher order. As their experience grows, cooks are able to bring greater intuition and even inspiration to their cooking. Traditional cookbooks are aimed at first-order cooks...

"When a recipe is rigidly scripted and blindly followed, it negates the cook's own creative instincts and good judgment - not to mention much of the pleasure of truly 'being' in the moment...

We believe cooking will continue to evolve and not only as a means of 'doing' ... Over time, we believe more people will have discovered it as a way of 'being' in the world."

This is how I intend my PowerPhrases to be used  - as a prompt for creativity. I'm excited to see this principle so beautifully explained in a different area of life. I'm even more excited at the author's beliefs that the trend is moving from "doing" to "being" - to experiencing the pleasure of truly "being" in the moment. And of bringing more of ourselves into our lives.

The bottom line for me is: don

t give me answers. Help me find my own. 


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One Step at a Time in the Direction of Realistic Goals

I woke up this morning feeling a bit of overwhelm. Yesterday was a very busy day, and I didn't get to tie all the lose ends up. 

I reminded myself of some 12-step wisdom. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other.

It's great to have long term visions. The main value I find in them is they keep you moving in a coherent direction and help to prioritize the next step. As long as they don't impose an incompatible preconceived plan of an on-the-ground reality, they keep you focused - and help you avoid trying to do everything at once.

This weekend, my friend and and assistant Angela shared her new structure for her nutritional consulting business. She emphasizes each step. It starts with neuroendocrine (communication system of the body) support, and digestive support. She reminds clients where they are in the process and doesn't try to fix everything at once. Like that, in my own program, I'm focused on developing flora now. The diet for that caused me to lose a bit too much weight - but I'll worry about that later. Adding weight is part of the long term vision, but not the stage I'm at now. 

That clear focus makes the process manageable.

I woke up today feeling a bit of overwhelm. I feel like a juggler who is capable of juggling four balls and suddenly tried to juggle six. That's okay. I will do today's work today and leave tomorrow's work for tomorrow. 

That's not slacking. It's simplicity. It's also effectiveness. What isn't effective is trying to get it all done at once.

Love Sally Forth today. See it below. They have a realistic goal - but it seems they could hit their target more quickly if they could develop a better process to acheive it.

Sally Forth Tetis




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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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