Month: April 2011

From vision to practice

What’s your vision of perfection when it comes to communication? Mine is a world where everyone says what they mean and means what they say without being mean when they say it, leaning forward toward a shared vision of reality. I’d like to live in that world. The world at large is much too interested in power plays and posturing to strive toward that kind of communication, but my individual worlds – my predominant personal and professional networks – live in some semblance of that reality. That fact is no accident. 

A vision is an important aspect of the SpeakSTRONG Method of communication. Once you know what perfection might look like, you immediately see ways that your own reality falls short of that vision. You can moan and groan and point the finger of blame, or you can look at the gap and see what the obstacles are. For me, when I failed to speak assertively when my now late husband showed signs of cancer, one big obstacle was my own self-doubt. I had no experiece in challenging authority (which, in 1986 I regarded my husband as being). That played into my self-doubt. The fact that I had done so little assertive communicating meant that I didn’t have the words or the methods. I was afraid to fumble through in the relationships I had, so an important first step was to find a relationship where I did feel safe. And my communication practice began.

So note the disctinction. My guiding principle is a world (office, friendship, marriage, etc.) where everyone says what they mean and means what they say without being mean when they say it. That doesn’t mean the way to get there is to start speaking that way. There are reasons why you operate the way you do. The way to bridge the gap between perfection and current reality is through consistent practices in small steps that address the obstacles. By the way, that’s why I wrote the book SpeakSTRONG. It provides hundreds of possible practices.

 

Styles don’t excuse bad behavior

Have you taken my communication style inventory yet? It’s light and playful, yet it’s informative. And, personally, I think I created an inventory that does what these things are intended to do. Once you learn your preferred style, it tells you what your strengths are, what PowerPhrases you could use more, and personal-pledge-iconwhat Poison Phrases you likely need to watch out for. It shows you how to leverage who you are, but also how to balance who you are so others aren’t expected to pick up the pieces for you. It then refers you to my PowerPhrases! book so you can learn more about communicating with other styles. 

Too many people use style quizzes to justify bad behavior and limitations. Sure, it’s good to know you like to get your ducks in a row before you speak, but that doesn’t mean you never need to collaborate. Sure, it’s wonderful that you’re such a visionary. That doesn’t justify setting people up for failure by creating new initiatives no one can implement. And don’t withhold your honest observations and justify it as a style thing.

Penny and Mary were discussing the possibility of working on a project together. Mary was having a tough time figuring how to structure it because Penny’s communication was so guarded that Mary had little idea of who Penny was, what Penny’s strengths were and how it might best work to collaborate. She figured they’d find their connection at the longer meeting they had planned. Imagine her shock when Penny decided to bail before that meeting because she needed more structure! This was the first Mary had heard about Penny having any problem with the dialog at all.

Penny called it a style difference. Ironically, people who knew them both thought they had the same style. The real problem seemed to be that Penny wasn’t saying what she meant and meaning what she said without being mean when she said it. She kept her concerns private until she snapped and pulled the plug. Mary felt blindsided. 

And Mary agreed it wasn’t a match, not because their styles were different. With good communication, styles can be bridged. But because Penny chose to keep information from Mary that she needed to relate effectively.

How about you? Do you justify your limits and hide bad behavior behind a style category? Or do you use that information to tap into your strengths and help you understand where your style might be a challenge for others so you can find a way to relate that works for everyone?

Continuous connecting

Some of my phrases come from others. Some come from observation. Some come from deep reflection. And some fall out of my mouth, and I observe, thinking, that was interesting! That was effective!

I’m attending training with people it’s very good for me to network with. I find myself continuously saying things that create a sense of a group. For example, I got in the shuttle and said,

  • Are your my training buddies today?

I referred to my table mates as my

  • table team.

I continuously and spontaneously find myself referring to the people around me in ways that referred to a relationship. Those words create a sense of being a part of a group – and I find it results in dinner invitations with people who might just have included people they already knew, people looking out for my interests and so on. 

I admit, I don’t know what I might say next. But it feels right and has a nice effect, so I won’t interfere with my natural tendencies here.

Ice-breaking is just a first step

I’m working on a table of contents for an ice-breaking book for McGraw Hill. At first I wan’t inspired by the topic, but I found my inspiration when talking with wise friends about what makes an ice-breaker matter. They used words like purposeful, and forward moving. Suddenly it all clicked in. I was a bit turned off by the plethora of meeting openers and activities that have little or nothing to do with the meeting at hand. You know, talking about your favorite pet as a child. But once we started talking about the deeper purpose of our proposed phrases, I felt inspired. 

None of us likes the word ice-breaker very much. For one thing, it focuses on getting rid of what we don’t want – ice – instead of what we do want – warmth and trust. And we want warmth and trust so we can get in alignment with each other. But alignment is only another step. Alignment is far better than working at cross-purposes, but it’s not as dynamic as synergy. Synergy taps into everyone’s creativity in ways that allow for forward movement.

So we go from ice-breaking to warmth and trust to alignment to synergy. I’d love to title the book Perfect Phrases to Melt the Ice to Create Alignment that Evolves into Synergy, but I know it won’t fly.

I’m sure once I’ve had more time to synergize with my buddies, the perfect title will come. I love the creative process, even if I often wish it would move more quickly than it does. 

Circling the Line of Continuous Improvement

Linear goes straight. Intuitive circles. Continuous Improvement circles the line of improvement options. 

spiralContinuous Improvement is one of the guiding principles of lean thinking. How do you keep leaning forward? Lean strives towards perfection, while knowing that perfection is not a static state. That means everything is subject to curious inquiry. 

So this week, as I’ve been creating the perfect title for my presentation on lean communication, It’s a creative process, which means I need to allow lots of room for circling intuition. I invited input from many others. Paul gave input that hit home deeply. I created a title. Lee loved it with minor tweaks. Kelli had a very different idea altogether. Karyn took a new direction with it. And me? I am patiently circling the line of continuous improvement as I move toward the ecstatically – as opposed to statically – perfect title. 

Johnny Cash walked the line. At the moment, I’m circling it. And while part of me wished my temporary title team would just tell me I’m perfect already, I am willing to circle the line until the deadline arrives or I get so inspired by what I/we come up with, the only think I can say is WOW!

Circling the Line of Continuous Improvement

Linear goes straight. Intuitive circles. Continuous Improvement circles the line of improvement options. 

spiralContinuous Improvement is one of the guiding principles of lean thinking. How do you keep leaning forward? Lean strives towards perfection, while knowing that perfection is not a static state. That means everything is subject to curious inquiry. 

So this week, as I’ve been creating the perfect title for my presentation on lean communication, It’s a creative process, which means I need to allow lots of room for circling intuition. I invited input from many others. Paul gave input that hit home deeply. I created a title. Lee loved it with minor tweaks. Kelli had a very different idea altogether. Karyn took a new direction with it. And me? I am patiently circling the line of continuous improvement as I move toward the ecstatically – as opposed to statically – perfect title. 

Johnny Cash walked the line. At the moment, I’m circling it. And while part of me wished my temporary title team would just tell me I’m perfect already, I am willing to circle the line until the deadline arrives or I get so inspired by what I/we come up with, the only think I can say is WOW!

Your communication resources are below

Just click here or scroll down to get your downloads.

Plus, I have another opportunity that will help you on your SpeakSTRONG Journey, communicating in our beyond-busy world. 

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Here’s the thing. Today 81% of employers say that communication skill is a first priority for people they hire. It’s not enough to be skilled. It’s not enough to know what you’re talking about. You need to know how to have the everyday and the critical conversations that lean forward. Otherwise your words will be added noise instead of ideas that are heard above the noise. The right words make all the difference. 

 

To take advantage of this promotion now, order one of my books from any of the retailers below – or from me. Send me your reciept and I’ll send you a link to these bonuses. 

bbbonus3

Beyond-Busy Bonus 

PowerPhrases! and SpeakSTRONG are my foundational resources for Speaking STRONG.

PowerPhrases! gives you the actual words to say in hundreds of situations.

SpeakSTRONG gives you communication do’s and don’ts to develop effective communication skills.

You don’t even have to read them cover to cover to benefit. Keep them handy for when you need the skills and the words. It’s like having a communication expert on your desk talking you through the tight spots and sticky situations.

A great offer for you.

Take the next step by getting those two great resources and I’ll send you my Cool Tools for Speaking Strong audio and eBook. It tells you how to use five communication formulas to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. I call it my Beyond-Busy Bonus.

Take advantage of this special promotion now and find out how easy it can be to communicate effectively, even in our beyond busy world.

Buy PowerPhrases Now > Amazon | 800-Ceo-read | BN | Borders | IndieBound

Buy SpeakSTRONG Now > Amazon | 800-Ceo-read | BN | Borders | IndieBound

Sample chapters

Dont know which one to get? Get them both – or download sample chapters to decide.

Sample Chapter: PowerPhrases!                       Sample Chapter: SpeakSTRONG

 

 

Here are the SpeakSTRONG Downloads you registered for

Beyond-Busy audio (Click to play now. To download right-click and save as; mac-users: control-click.)
Find out how to communicate to cut through the chaos of our beyond-busy world.  43 minutes.

PowerPhrases Quick Reference Guide (download pdf)
Phrases you’ll use every day.

PowerPhrases Generator (download pdf)
A simple graph to help you include head, heart and will in your communication 

Six Secrets of PowerPhrases (download pdf)
Tips to create your own PowerPhrases to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. 

SpeakSTRONG Newsletter: Click on the link in the email you received. Contact me if you have any questions. (I do answer my own phone.) 

Your communication resources are below

Just click here or scroll down to get your downloads.

Plus, I have another opportunity that will help you on your SpeakSTRONG Journey, communicating in our beyond-busy world. 

{youtube}OR5kP2P3eGk{/youtube}

 

Here’s the thing. Today 81% of employers say that communication skill is a first priority for people they hire. It’s not enough to be skilled. It’s not enough to know what you’re talking about. You need to know how to have the everyday and the critical conversations that lean forward. Otherwise your words will be added noise instead of ideas that are heard above the noise. The right words make all the difference. 

 

To take advantage of this promotion now, order one of my books from any of the retailers below – or from me. Send me your reciept and I’ll send you a link to these bonuses. 

bbbonus3

 

Beyond-Busy Bonus 

PowerPhrases! and SpeakSTRONG are my foundational resources for Speaking STRONG.

PowerPhrases! gives you the actual words to say in hundreds of situations.

SpeakSTRONG gives you communication do’s and don’ts to develop effective communication skills.

You don’t even have to read them cover to cover to benefit. Keep them handy for when you need the skills and the words. It’s like having a communication expert on your desk talking you through the tight spots and sticky situations.

A great offer for you.

Take the next step by getting those two great resources and I’ll send you my Cool Tools for Speaking Strong audio and eBook. It tells you how to use five communication formulas to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. I call it my Beyond-Busy Bonus.

Take advantage of this special promotion now and find out how easy it can be to communicate effectively, even in our beyond busy world.

Buy PowerPhrases Now > Amazon | 800-Ceo-read | BN | Borders | IndieBound

Buy SpeakSTRONG Now > Amazon | 800-Ceo-read | BN | Borders | IndieBound

 

Sample chapters

Dont know which one to get? Get them both – or download sample chapters to decide.

Sample Chapter: PowerPhrases!                       Sample Chapter: SpeakSTRONG

 

 

Here are the SpeakSTRONG Downloads you registered for

Beyond-Busy audio (Click to play now. To download right-click and save as; mac-users: control-click.)
Find out how to communicate to cut through the chaos of our beyond-busy world.  43 minutes.

PowerPhrases Quick Reference Guide (download pdf)
Phrases you’ll use every day.

PowerPhrases Generator (download pdf)
A simple graph to help you include head, heart and will in your communication 

Six Secrets of PowerPhrases (download pdf)
Tips to create your own PowerPhrases to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. 

SpeakSTRONG Newsletter: Click on the link in the email you received. Contact me if you have any questions. (I do answer my own phone.) 

What-how-do-you-do really means – It’s a Wonderful World

I’m listening to a line in the song “It’s a Wonderful World” and this line stands out for me.

  • webbyI see friends shaking hands saying “How do you do”. But what they’re really saying is “I love you”. 

I used to be too literal to hear the real meaning of those words. I missed a lot. And I’ve opened up to: 

  • Have a nice day 

in the same way. 

Legislating against transparency

Years ago I was delighted by a picture simliar to this one in the Fairfield Ledger paper. Pigs had escaped from a factory farm and were enjoying a swim in the resevoir. I
swimming-pigs-smtook pleasure in the picture of their frolic, knowing that they had escaped from far less pleasurable circumstance. 

Now there are laws in place that prohibit sharing or even owning pictures that could harm commercial interests of a factory farm. Seth Godin writes about it, and he notes,

– Can you imagine being arrested for possession of a photo of a pig?

We can be defensive. We can hide our operations. Or we can be creative, stand behind our choices, and if we can’t be proud of our choices, we can make different ones we can be proud of. We can let the antiseptic of transparency create informed choices and trust, as Seth notes,

  • When consumers get used to transparency, they’re also more interested in the quality of what you sell, and are more likely to willingly pay extra. They’ll certainly cross the street to buy from an ethical provider.

We really are at a crossroads, deciding whether we’ll race to the bottom or to the top. 

Secrecy is one of the biggest barriers to effective communication. It hides a plethera of evils. Transparency can be risky when you’ve been in hiding. You’ll probably have a lot of dreams where you can’t find your clothes for a while. But in the end, coming out of hiding and Speaking Strong authentically opens possiblities you could never find in hiding.