March 2011

Things are not always as they appear – video

What conclusion do you draw from this video? I’ve met a few of these folks. More and more now, we trade this kind of posturing as experts for authenticity – showing up as people who have some expertise. Some of the answers – not all of them. We turn people toward their own resourcefulness, not to putting us up on a pedestal to hope they can be like us some day.

Speaking STRONG isn’t about impressing everyone with a false image. It’s about relating genuinely – claiming our magnificance without hiding our humanity or inflating our image. 


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Keen on lean

You know how it is when you talk to someone who has a glow in their eyes when they talk about something? I know several people who are like that when they talk about Lean. What’s the fuss over Lean all about? I recently spoke at a YPO Lean conference, and I felt like I was transported to an alternate universe where leaders don’t think efficiency happens at the cost of connection and humanness. That’s worth fussing over. 

YPO LogoLean is a dynamic process. It’s about continuous improvement – not improving occasionally or in chunks – but bit by bit, step by step. It’s organic – you take a step and that movement changes the whole situation. You check out the new situation before you plan the next improvement. 

Here’s what that can mean on a communication level. Imagine you have three communication challenges – sarcasm is an issue for you, you find yourself getting defensive over criticism and you don’t set boundaries well. You might decide to change all that at once. But if instead, you start by eliminating sarcasm from your communication, you’ll find your other concerns have shifted. So before you go down your list for the next issue to handle, it makes more sense to see if a different area presents itself to improve. 

As a creative, dynamic and organic communicator, I am thrilled to find a world where this kind of dynamism is understood and embraced.

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Communication Pet Peeves Results are In

The results are in for our communication Pet Peeve survey, and the winner is: 

– Staying silent and complaining later. 

The very close second is:


– Being blind-sided because people didn’t tell me about problems.

Both submitters will receive a free year-long subscription to my “Say What You Mean eCourse.” Thanks for playing.

Interesting that the highest scoring bad practices are both passive behaviors. We tend to think overly-aggressive communicators are the ones who create the problems. This survey indicates otherwise.

I didn’t get enough submissions on the good communication practices to start a competition for that, but if people post enough, I’ll create one for that. You can post about communication practices that you like here.

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Why is my heart singing?

What a month since I sent my last newsletter. 

I had surgery on one eye and can see things I never saw before – including colors and street-signs.

I’m having surgery on the other eye Wednesday.


I played Scrabble in Cincinnati with my 91-year old dad and it was so much fun. I’m going back for another round this Sunday.

And I spoke at a Lean Manufacturing conference for the Young President’s Organization and fell in love with Lean Manufacturing. I’m going back for another Lean conference next week. 

Now, it might seem a bit odd to say I fell in love with a manufacturing system. I have that feeling where you just want to ask: “where have you been all my life? I’m so enjoying getting to know you’. I talk about my experience on a radio interview on Lean Nation Radio. You can listen to the podcast.
Why Lean? Well, I’m still figuring that out, myself, but I will say that I love how Lean is as dynamic as the world is and as my approach to communication is.

And that’s why my heart is singing. More later.

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PowerPhrase: I Own This Space @danmulhern

powerphrase_icon2Dan Mulhern posted today about “owning the space” we stand in. He referred to actors owning the stage and how his wife Jennifer owns the front of a courtroom when she prosecutes. It’s about where you belong and how you show up there.

It’s not about posturing. It’s not about pretending. It’s about claiming and embodying expertise.

I commented on his post that when independent business owners find their brand, the brand is about the space they own already. For example, I own business phrasing. Not that others don’t play in that field – and play well. But business communication and particularly phrasing is where I shine. It’s an expertise I bring to the table. It’s a space I continually own more deeply. 

My phrase books provide phrases based on that ownership. For example, admins often don’t fully speak in ways that say “I’m an administrative professional. I own this space.” All the phrases in the Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals book are based on that kind of professional ownership. 

What’s your arena? Where can you say,

  • I own this space

…and do you show up in ways that reinforce that claim?

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Lean Nation Radio

Last fall, Karl, the CEO of Vibco, a manufacturing company that applies Lean Manufacturing, bought copies of my books for all his managers and found them to be very effective. He also hired me to speak for a YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) Lean Manufacturing event. I attended the entire conference and was surprised by how meaningful the event was for me. I gave the closing keynote, which I customized to guide the leaders toward having effective conversations about implementing what they had learned when they returned to their companies.

During the conference, I discovered a whole new world of like-minded people sincerely interested in creating productive work environments where everyone wins. I’m still processing what happened for me, but I will say it was exhilarating, affirming and transformative. I talked about it with Karl on his radio show Lean Nation last Tuesday. You can listen to the podcast here.

The conference was brilliantly structured to make the information transformational and practical. I will talk about that as a part of a webinar I’m offering for Professional Development University. It’s called “Applying Classroom Learning to Workplace Reality”. You can read about it here.

There is a fee for each station that registers and you can get CEU credits for attending.

I also offer a free webinar to any group that purchases any of my books by the box. 

There’s a difference between learning how to do something and actually doing it. It’s great to know how to bridge the gap.

Lean Nation Radio Read More »

The financial argument for a moral decision

I heard a nuclear physicist compare the construction of a proposed plant on the US east coast as playing Russian Roulette. He spoke of all the dangers and then went on to explain that he was lobbying against its construction as “a bad investment due to the risk”.

He was apologetic for his financial argument for what he clearly felt was a major safety and moral issue. But I didn’t have a problem with it at all. Effective communication means speaking in terms people relate to. This man is lobbying based on his own sense of social responsibility. I respect that. I also respect the fact that he knows what motivates the decision-makers he seeks to influence. We deal with the world as it is – not as we think it should be. In doing that, we are better equipped to effect positive change. 

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PowerPhrase: I respond more quickly to short emails

powerphrase_icon2I find that when I can reply to an email quickly, I do. If it’s something I need to study or research, I’ll wait to reply, which could take a few days, or in very busy times, longer than that. 

Bob’s the same way. Some clients send him short emails and he answers right away. But if it’s more complex and requires more time, he’ll put it off until he has a block of time, which could take days.

When clients habitually send him long rambling emails, he will let them know. He’ll say,

  • The way my practice works, if I can respond quickly, I do. If it will take more time, I set it aside until I have a block of time. Just so you know.

He found that this information inspires some of his longer-winded clients to be more succinct in their queries. 

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PowerPhrase: What do you need to make your job easier?

powerphrase_icon2My husband Bob asked Lalena, the young woman who cleans our house,

  • Is there anything you need to make your job easier?

Lelana replied that a new mop would be nice to have since the one we have falls apart. 

Such a simple thing – and yet she didn’t think to ask for an inexpensive tool that would increase her efficiency until Bob asked her what she might need.

Are there people in your life who make do with what they have when a simple improvement would make a big difference for them? Why not ask and find out?

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