effective communication skill

If you have to say this, it probably ain’t so

I received the following letter:

Dear Meryl

communication questionsI came across your website, and I want to share an experience I had at a leadership conference.

The speaker had been teaching and coaching about leadership for over 20 years to small and large groups.

He comes on stage, and says, "Hi, I’m John, and I am your friend." Then he repeats this several times throughout his talk. When he says these remarks, he is sitting down in front of the audience with a glass of water at the table. In other words, he wants to look relaxed and comfortable.

I instantly recognize this as non-authentic communication and manipulation. Accordingly, he has broken your rules for effective communication.

Then he goes on to say that he forgot to bring the books that he sells which he would autograph if he had them available. But he reminds the audience that anyone can purchase these books on Amazon, and, of course, he says again, "I’m John, and I am your friend."

Maybe he should take your course.

Hi Steve,

I got a kick out of your email. The shift in leadership communication trends can be challenging for many! Trying to be authentic is like trying to relax. Announcing you’re a friend is a lot like saying, "I’ll be honest with you." Suddenly you doubt it. And I’m reading a book that observes that if you want to win at tennis, ask your opponent how she manages her great serves. Get her thinking about it, and her naturalness disappears. The call for authenticity can be like that, too. We become self-conscious and find it impossible to drop the act – although our act might be of not having an act.

Now, wouldn’t it be ironic if someone had attended a presentation I gave and emailed John to tell him I needed to attend his seminar? Who knows – perhaps I do!

Anyway, thanks for passing this on,

Meryl

Tebow isn’t a one-trick pony anymore – nor should you be

Who knew?

I screamed out loud as I watched the Broncos score the winning touchdown in playoff overtime Sunday. denver_broncos_tackle-14200I’m not that much of a football fan, but it was such a surprising play – and game – that I was happily engaged. Tim Tebow surprised a lot of people – they thought he was a one-trick pony. And he had been!

He initially threw his opponents off-guard by his ability to run the ball, but “everyone knew” he couldn’t pass. So all they had to do was guard close in. That left them open for the throws, but since Tebow couldn’t pass, it didn’t matter.

The game changer

Except suddenly it did. When Tebow went from being a one-trick pony to having more options, he became significantly harder to beat. Suddenly the opposition had to focus their defensive efforts over the entire playing field.

Exponentially more effective

The SpeakStrong Method knows the limits of being a one-trick pony. Effective communication skill is often about dissolving defenses. When you have more than one approach to slip past resistance toward the heart of the issue, it becomes more difficult to manipulate, block and defend. If a direct approach creates blocks, instead of pushing harder, often backing off and trying some surprise moves can break the communication habit pattern that is causing so much trouble.

For example, two managers who lock horns in meetings might find their common ground and form an alliance sharing a ride to a conference. I recently heard one manager say he didn’t have much use for another manager until they did just that and found their goals converged. If pushing forward in a discussion of a contentious issue creates animosity, it might be time to try a new communication approach and talk about the conversation itself, and how you talk with each other. 

Playing a different game – a bigger game

One important distinction between football and The SpeakStrong Method of communication is that in communication, we don’t dissolve defenses to win over someone. We do it to create clarity and a foundation for effective collaboration. That distinction makes communication a bigger game than football. The Steelers were right to fortify their defenses with every play. In conversation, while there are times when we do need to “play defensively,” more often we get more done with collaborative communication skill. 

Who knows how Tebow will show up in the next round of playoffs. One thing we haven’t seen from Tebow yet that makes for excellence is consistency. Tebow erraticness has made for exciting games, but not predictable ones.  But what Sunday’s performance clearly demonstrated is, while you can overcome resistance with a single approach for a while, real skill requires being more than a one-trick pony. That is true for communication skill as well. 

Personal Benefits of the SpeakStrong Method

What can the SpeakStrong Method do for you personally?

meryl-blue-180Just imagine the difference exceptionally effective communication skill could make in your life. 

Visualize…

  • trusting your own personal process so completely that you communicate with complete authenticity without fear, embarrassment or shame.
  • being able to stand openly in you own successes and mistakes as a realistic foundation to move forward to who you want to be next.
  • having personal confidence in your own essential expression to be able to be completely present in all your relationships.

Now imagine…

  • the fulfillment of building a personal community where others are completely present for and with you.
  • being able to speak your mind and your heart effectively – building clarity, trust and connection with each conversation.
  • collaborating without compromise – where communication results in the kind of synergy where everybody wins and no one loses. Ever.

 

A communication makeover can transform every aspect of how you relate, influence and succeed. 

 

Next, ask yourself…

  • What would it be like to be able to communicate tenderness without drama or recycling old wounds?
  • How would it feel to be able to give feedback without damaging trust?
  • Where would you like to be able to relate from a platform of dynamic expectancy instead of static and rigid demands?
  • What if there was nothing between your heart and someone else’s – including anyone’s ego?

Can you envision how dynamic your life and your personal development would become? Your development personal professional and interpersonal depends on authentic communication.

All the difference in the world…

Here are just a few of the personal benefits people have shared with us.

  • For Kim it meant the difference between feeling like a doormat and following her own dreams with the support of her community of friends and associates.
  • For Melanie it meant the difference between a pleasant (yawn) marriage based on compliance and cooperation and a dynamic marriage based on synergy and collaboration.
  • For Cole it meant the difference between frustration from confusing instructions at work, and clarity.

What difference would it make in your life? How could you benefit from The SpeakStrong Method?

Click “next” to discover the SpeakStrong principles.

Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making

Organized Audrey says it well. “Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making.”

thinking.smBecome a decision-maker. Practice by looking around your desk – your home – your closets. Chances are you’ll see evidence of delayed decisions all around you. 

Then, consider your inbox. How many delayed decisions are in there? In lean terms, consider your cluttered emails as excess inventory – one of the seven wastes of lean. Then, consider the sum-total of conversations you’ve delayed. How much energy are they zapping?

Here’s what you don’t want to do. Don’t delete all your emails just to get rid of the clutter. Note, you don’t need to get your inbox down to zero by the end of the day. You don’t need to go out and have every delayed conversation by 5 PM on Friday. Just stop delaying decisions you can make now, stop postponing conversations you can have now, and live your life with more dynamic immediacy. Then, take heart that while you may still have clutter, you’re moving in the right direction. 

Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making. Organization is the result of systems and processes that make decision-making easy. But that’s the subject of another post. 

The power of “I’d love to”

When I ask my assistant Angela to do things for me, she almost always responds with the words,

  • I’d be happy to do that for you.powerphrase_icon2

Sometimes, instead she says,

  • I’d love to do that for you.

There are times when she lets me know something isn’t a great fit or she doesn’t have time for a particular project – which I’d much rather she do than agree to something she can’t do. Still, her words always support a statement she once made,

I am 100% committed to your success.

How different that is from someone who once told me the job beat flipping burgers!

The “Yes” fast Communication Kata Replay

Boundaries define us. The term “no” helps us set boundaries. If you have a problem with saying no, one practice or kata you can apply, is a “yes fast.”

I talked about that yesterday in the Communication Kata webinar. You can download the slides and view the replay. You can also view the slides on SlideShare here

kataA kata is a practice or form that develops new skill. It’s also a way of aligning, or synchronizing different elements. Like who you are and what you can and want to do, with what’s being asked of you, as one example. 

A “yes fast” is a practice that overcomes one of the biggest barriers to effective communication – the inability to say no. I went on a yes fast many years ago when I realized I needed better boundaries. I went for six months without responding with a yes on the spot. Even if I knew for sure I wanted to say yes, in that six month period I would reply with something like,

  • Let me think about it.

Then I would come back with a yes. That practice broke the yes habit, and allowed me to say yes out of choice, not habit.

By saying no, I don’t do business that way, I developed the ability to say, yes, that is how I do business.

By saying, no, I won’t bend on that principle, I was able to know when it did make sense to bend.

By saying, no, I’m not willing to compromise, I learned to collaborate without compromise.

By saying, no, I’m not going to respond with a yes just because someone wants me to, I developed the skill to say yes when I wanted to. And to keep going until I and we knew just what that was.

A yes fast is one of many kata or practices to develop communication excellence. The webinar provided a framework for using the kata in a focused way. Can you use the kata without the steps that lead to their application? Let me think about it. Yes, BUT, you’ll only get a partial result. Or, in other words, yes, AND, if you use them in context, you’ll have a strong foundation and get better results. More importantly, you’ll get the results you want, not just random experiences. 

Luna Lovegood and the Top Ten Admin Phrases Webinar

Luna Lovegood, the dreamy Hogwarts student in the Harry Potter series, had a SpeakStrong moment that changed the course of events in the final episode of the Harry Potter series. It’s a SpeakStrong moment that illustrates well that sometimes support staff needs to be outspoken with the people Lunathey support.

Harry was in search of an item with little idea of where it might be. When Luna tried to get his attention, Harry dismissed her by saying he didn’t have time to listen to her. Luna replied,

  • Harry Potter, you WILL listen to me.

That got his attention. From there, she explained her thinking about who might know the best place to look for the item. Harry heeded her advice and got the clue he needed. And the rest is Hogwarts history.

Luna didn’t assume to be the leader in the quest. She knew this was Harry’s mission, and she also knew that she needed to SpeakStrong to get him to listen to her. Like that, people in support roles need to get their exec, manager or director’s attention to consider their ideas clearly. That’s best done simply, but at times needs to be done with more assertiveness. 

That was one of the points of discussion in the webinar Admin PowerPhrases. You can watch the replay and download the slides to get the rest. 

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!

How to write delete-proof subject lines in your emails

Your subject line can make the difference between getting your email read and having it deleted unnoticed. This article gives you do’s, don’t’s, PowerPhrases and Poison Phrases for email subject lines. Learn how to write the best email subject lines to get great results.