April 2012

Words of wisdom overheard at the Colorado Springs Airport

Everyone in my seating area at the Colorado Springs Airport looked up and caught each other’s eyes when we overheard these words:

  • Any time you inspire a young person, you inspire the future.

We smiled and nodded at each other. The sage is still on the phone—I don’t know if he has any clue how much we enjoyed overhearing his words.

I said, "That’s inspriring!"

The woman with the steel toed boots who had been listening to music on her iPhone said, "It is. Because it’s true."

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Boring is a clue that interesting is not far behind

inspectI can tell when I’ve outgrown a conversational dynamic when I start to distract myself. If I’m on the phone at my computer when it happens, I’ll unconsciously start browsing the net or cleaning out my inbox. When I notice that, I refocus on the conversation. I take a step back and ask myself—why is what this person saying putting me to sleep?

It happened this week when a relative started parenting me in old ways we’ve both outgrown. When he started nudging me to be innovative and creative, the switch flipped, and I found myself searching shawls from India on eBay. Here’s what I ask myself.

  • Okay, me, there’s the clue. What’s going on right here and now, self, that is old and tired? And how can we elevate this conversation to one that interests us again?

This man has always taught me to strive to new, higher levels in my work. I’ve got that, and I do, and I don’t need him to do it any more. I also don’t need him to evaluate whether I’m doing it right or not.

But what I do need, is to let him know that I have internalized that quality of his. I live it. So while I’ve outgrown the dynamic that my eBay search alerted me to, I haven’t outgrown the desire to share how grateful I am for the lessons I embody thanks to him.

And to think, all this came from an eBay search for shawls from India. It’s a magical world when your eyes are open. 

What clues are right in front of your eyes that you’re overlooking?

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Ego Alert: Share, don’t steal, the joy of discovery

magic_eyeWhen I coach people over time, they often will communicate an observation or insight that I’ve made many times as if they just discovered it. It can be tempting for me to say, 

  • That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you all along!

Even if I’ve been pointing at something for months or even years, the fact is, they just discovered it.

For example, when someone sees the embedded images in a magic eye illustration for the first time, it’s a new discovery for them. It doesn’t matter if others have seen them for a long time. 

Discovery can be very exciting, so when someone makes a discovery, don’t let your ego usurp the delight by pointing out that they are only now seeing something you’ve known all along. Share the joy of the discovery without concerning yourself about where it came from.

Here’s another twist. If they don’t recognize your role in a discovery, it could be a sign of your skill. Great communication plants seeds that lead others to draw their own conclusions. Remember that, so when your ego wants to say, "well duh," you can tell it, 

  • We guided that process with grace and skill. We made it about them and not us. Let’s give ourselves a secret pat on the back for that, while we share their delight. 

Do you see the heart embedded in the rose illustration above? It’s there. If you’ve developed your magic eye, you know that joy of discovery already. If you haven’t, you’ve got a treat in store for  you. Have a delightful time with it!

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Dress for Success means many different things

Single_van_no_text_CLEANHis name is Karl Wedensten and he knows how to get attention. When I spent a week at his company in Rhode Island, we drove around in the Vibco Vibrator van, and people stopped us to take pictures of it. 


Well, here’s Karl in national news, asking Mitt Romney questions. Scroll down if you’re still wondering what the big deal is.

It’s gone viral.

Karl started dressing this way after he read Dress for Success. I read Dress for Success, too, but I got a different message from it. Perhaps I should take inspiration from Karl. Actually, I do. 


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SpeakStrong Newsletter April 2012

  #406, April, 2012 www.speakstrong.com  


Yay! We got married!

Newsletter morphing

Two new books were born

Executive Admin Training

Enjoy the blog


SpeakStrong Newsletter

Please comment on the blog posts or email me via contacts

Yay! We got married

Wedding cake

It’s true. After 16 years, Bob Rose and I formally tied the knot. And I now have a new name – one with a Rose in it. I haven’t decided what my legal name will be yet. Have you been through this? What worked, didn’t work? I have one friend who changed her whole name when she married.

Please share your experience.

It was wonderful. It is wonderful. And getting married eloquently is one of the things that kept me busy.

Creating this glorious event was a real testament to how much easier collaborative communication skills make planning anything, and how much more satisfying the outcome can be. Bob and I have been going from me’s to we’s for 16 years, but making it formal was hugely engaging, rewarding and delightful.



My marital status isn’t the only thing that morphed

My marital status isn’t the only thing that morphed As some of you know, I’ve been writing this newsletter for 12 years now. We’re at #406. I started a blog some six years ago. Newsletters take quite a bit of time to prepare. That’s why I dropped off in my broadcasts. They also take quite a bit of time to read. So it just makes sense to me to shift the focus of the newsletter to announcements and news, and use the blog for the tips and teachings.

The good news is you can subscribe to my blog and receive the posts via feed or email. The posts tend to be short and easy to read. So visit my blog and fill in your email in the right column where it says to subscribe via email.

I’d love to keep the conversation going, and I post far more often than I send out newsletters.

Visit my blog


Two new SpeakStrong babies – Phrase books

I have two new books out.

One is Perfect Phrases for Icebreakers with Diane Windingland. The other is Perfect Phrases for Virtual Teamwork with Lynda McDermott. They are very different and you’ll love them both! Icebreaker Phrase Book

The icebreaker book has conversation starters for new acquaintances as well as openers for meetings, tough conversations and events.

The virtual teamwork book really will help you get and stay aligned and collaborate with people you work with through technology. It’s a great guide for any kind of team formation, with the added benefit of how to handle the kinds of things that happen when you work remotely.

So take advantage of all my hard writing work and get the phrases for your job and lfe.

visit my store

check me out on Amazon


Executive Admin Training

Executive Admin TrainingI’m preparing for Executive Admin training in Dallas next week. If any of you are really flexible, there’s still room to attend. It will be a very dynamic group of professionals.

Don’t worry – we’re in the process of scheduling another one for the fall, either in Boston or Vegas – or – who knows – perhaps both! But if you have an inkling to come, here’s your info.

check it out


Lots of posts – tips and questions and answers and even some details about my wedding on my blog

Focus can be hard! I’m so tempted to summarize my favorite blog posts here. But it makes more sense to stay on point here. I will leave you with an invitation to dialog with me on my blog.

Until next time – keep on speaking strong!

visit my blog..


SpeakStrong and collaborate without compromise

Got a communication question? Ask me!

Want to use any of the articles on your site? You are welcome to with this bio:
Meryl Runion is the creator of the SpeakStrong Method. You can find her at www.speakstrong.com

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Communication question from a cat whisperer who needs to speak strong



Reader Question:

I work at the animal shelter here as a supervisor over the cats.

One problem has been irking me at work. This is allowing people to be right in situations that really matter. For example we will have a cat that is exhibiting a behavior that I am very familiar with and I want to point out what it is, a workable solution to solving it, and the end result. I even have tons of literature and videos over it. Instead of explaining and highlighting what needs to be done, I allow myself to become satisfied with the other workers’ opinions whom have no experience with cat behavioral issues and they end up making it worse.

This is the one I am having the most trouble with. Right now we have a hissy-spitty cat, and I am in the process of training him not to bite. I do this by positive reinforcement which includes petting him a little more each day until he becomes comfortable with longer periods of petting and socialization. The other worker believes that smacking them on the head works when they bite, but all the research I have done backs up the theory that cats do not learn from physical punishment. How do I go about effectively tell them when they smack the cat not to do that and explain my method and technique of training the cat?

Meryl Responds

I’d love to learn from you! We watched the “My Cat From Hell” series where the coach transforms cats regularly by honoring their nature, and it can be amazing! Our cat is a sweetheart, but we did teach her to stay off the table by yelling at her. That was years ago, and some day we might have a new cat—I’d like kinder and gentler ways.

It seems to me there are two things that upset you—that you don’t stand up for your own wisdom, and you don’t stand up for the cats. Do you know why? When I defer to others who know less, (which still happens, although not so often), it can be self-doubt, not wanting to upset other people, not wanting to offend, not knowing what to say. It can be fear of retaliation. Something in my upbringing developed those qualities in me, and the only way I could grow out of it was just to hold my nose and dive in. Cut yourself some slack—there’s a reason why you balk. There is no need to be hard on yourself. But there is also reason to extend yourself a bit more each time.

It will help if you discover why you back off. But even if you know why, there will be risk in speaking your truth. It’s unfamiliar, and not a skill you’ve developed in this kind of scenario. When you practice a new skill, you fumble at first. That’s not fun. But it is how you grow.

When I fail to SpeakStrong, I practice what I might have said out loud. It really helps. I talk to the trees when I hike, and tell them what I wish I had said to the other person. It comes out raw at first, but then gets more from the heart. The trees don’t mind. 😉

You are the expert in cat care. You are also the supervisor. You have both positional and knowledge power. What do you, in your comfortable authority sound like? For starters, a man who cares about cats and cares about people.

Your earned authority comes across loud and clear in your email to me. So look at what you wrote to me, and use that to help you figure out what to say to the offenders. If it were me, I’d say something like, “The cat is scared and defending itself. We might be able to get her to stop by smacking her, but we won’t teach her love that way. My experience and my research have shown me that there really is a better way. I’m working with this cat and I see improvement, but if we worked together by teaching her to trust, she’ll lose her reason to bite.”

You can also say, “Yesterday, I wanted to speak up about cat care, but was afraid I’d offend you. I decided to take the risk today.”

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Magical Mystery Weddings create life bonds with the help of lots of partners

cakeI’m not easy to work with. Well, those who like to collaborate enjoy working with me a lot. But working for me isn’t for everyone.

I don’t hire people, I partner with them. Basically, I use their expertise to help me make the decisions I would make if I had their knowledge and skills. So I didn’t want a caterer/planner to give me bland choices, like one of three menus or what my colors would be. I wanted a caterer to stimulate my imagination to pick a theme, a menu and everything else that was involved in planning a major event—like a wedding.

The first caterer I met with had some great ideas. But she clearly had her own agenda—her own ideas, wedding imperatives. The way she dismissed my desire for finger food and insisted on a sit-down dinner was a warning sign. When, five weeks later and two weeks before the wedding, she sent me yet another menu that didn’t reflect our conversations, it became clear it wasn’t a match.

Enter Whole Foods. Sure, they could do chicken kabobs, but curried chicken satays would be easier to eat. Sounded good to me–and it was! Brad took my ideas and raised them up one. Where with my first caterer, I had a hard time visualizing what she was talking about, Brad’s enthusiastic descriptions of possible dishes painted clear pictures that were aligned with my vision. And then, we came for a tasting. That closed the deal. 

We heard it a lot—the wedding was delightful and was as unique as we are. And the food was part of the delight. That’s because I found partners who were willing to understand what I wanted and advise me based on that understanding. They were willing for it to me my wedding, aided by their expertise. 

And that’s what good consultants do. They help people unfold their own genius. I was starting to wonder if there was a caterer who could do that. I went through a few, and found there was.

I’m not easy to work with if it isn’t a match. None of us are. And even two weeks before the big event, it can still be a lot quicker and more effective to gracefully settle with those who aren’t a match and find someone who is. Thanks to Brad and Sharon and Sherry and all those wonderful people who showed up in surprising, supportive and unassuming ways to help us have a magical mystery wedding. (In fact, a few people found both the preparing and the event so powerful they felt as if we all got married.)

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PowerPhrase: It would be impossible to offend me

powerphrase_icon2"It was different from any wedding I’ve ever been to."

That was one of the more common comments people shared after Bob and I married last week. The wedding was uniquely ours. It probably helped that we haven’t been to a lot of weddings. We didn’t have much experience to tell us what weddings "should" be like. We just knew what we wanted one to be. Delightful. 

The ceremony was my creation with Bob’s and Evan’s (the minister) collaborative input. Evan sent me a summarized and updated copy of the ceremony, and when we spoke, he noted,

  • It would be impossible to offend me.

"That’s a PowerPhrase!" I replied. And it was. It gave me permission to be completely honest, which I would have been anyway, but not with the same confidence. He then—jokingly—protested when I told him we wanted to adjust the part of the blessing that said we would never settle for the snotty privilege of always being right. We replaced snotty with easy. 

Being impossible to offend is a gift

Last week I misinterpreted my friend’s grief as feeling victimized. She called me to clarify that she didn’t feel victimized at all—she just missed her lost love. I appreciated that she clarified without taking umbrage at what might have been an implied diminishment of her purity of heart. Instead of regretting my error due to hurt feelings, I was happy that I had communicated what I saw, because it allowed her to share the depth of her heart. 

Being impossible to offend is not the same as taking crap or betraying your expertise. It’s essential for true collaboration that people be able to call it as they see it. They might be missing something, but that doesn’t matter. By speaking honestly and inviting honest responses, conversations become dynamic, real and transformative.

Umbage-free zones

You might not be planning a wedding, but even if you’re just planning a lunch with a friend, create an umbrage-free zone. Being impossible to offend will help the collaborative planning process.

So try it next time you submit anything for review. Let them know,

  • It would be impossible to offend me.

You might be surprised at how much smarter both or all of you are than any one of you, in umbrage-free zones.

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Coming up Roses… or Runions…

I got married April 1st. Yay!

My husband’s last name is Rose, and I plan to use it, but am not sure just how to proceed, since Runion is how I’m known. What do you think? Who has gone through a name change, and how did you do it? I’d love your thoughts, suggestions, warnings and tales.

Am I Meryl Rose now? (Surprisingy, the domain name was available.) Or Meryl Runion Rose? Or do I use Meryl Runion professionally and Meryl Rose personally?

I’m happy to be a Rose. Just wondering how Rosey to be. I got some great input from my facebook post, but could use some more as I ponder the next step. 

Coming up Roses… or Runions… Read More »