Is this Method Right for Me?

communcation planHello Everyone! Cassia here,

Meryl and I have been going through the eLearning and practicing what we preach, so to speak.  Week One of the eLearning asks you to reflect on you communication past and I wanted to share some of the things I have learned in my communication journey.

When I first came to work for Meryl three months ago, I felt fairly confident in my abilities as a communicator. I had pride in my ability to resolve confrontations and felt my communication with those around me was clear and kind.

It wasn’t until I spent some time helping Meryl refine her descriptions of the four communication styles, that I began to reflect on my own style and voice. It was like wiping the mirror clean of all of that debris that had blurred my image before; like lifting a veil; like walking into a brick wall. I realized how I would change my style with different individuals but mainly identified with the Achiever style.

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Getting a Word in Edgewise – Still a Challenge for Women

meetingThe gender research is in. After all these years, women still speak drastically less when outnumbered by guys. And that’s bad. Or is it?

I don’t care how MUCH I talk. I care that the perspective I offer contributes. Of course, the two are related. The researcher reported:

“When women participated more, they brought unique and helpful perspectives to the issue under discussion. We’re not just losing the voice of someone who would say the same things as everybody else in the conversation.”

(Of course, it’s not strictly a gender thing. Some women are naturally masculine in their participation and some men are naturally feminine in their participation – and that’s not a criticism of either.)

The exception

There was one exception to the finding. When the resulting decision needed to be unanimous, women spoke more, and the decision reflected more community values. In other words, when every opinion matters by design, every voice is heard.

I’ve spent 25 years learning to SpeakStrong, and be direct when my inherently more feminine perspective is ignored. I’ve also spent much of that time learning to change the game so I don’t have to compete in a style that is unnatural to me, and less refined than I’m capable of. 

The alternatives

It would be inefficient to require that every decision be reached unanimously. There are other ways to structure discussion so every voice matters. Many of my communication formulas do just that. Often, just pointing out how unbalanced a conversation is makes the difference. Phrases like this can change the dynamic.

  • I notice that I have to power-up to be heard in this conversation. How can we shift from competing with each other to listening to each other?

It’s a meta-message that addresses context. Some say content is king. I say context is. If the context won’t let you get a word in edgewise, create one that does. 

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SpeakStrong Method Quick Start Intensive

A nine-step, five-week partnership approach to starting your SpeakStrong Method practice

StartThis five-week skill and knowledge development program walks you through the 9-step process of The SpeakStrong Method in partnership with me, Meryl Runion. Together we’ll define your communication aspirations, assess your current skills and practice communication kata to build your communication strengths and moderate your communication challenges in the workplace.


Step1: Free introductory presentation: get a picture of the possibilities and the benefits of the practice

Step 2: Free preparatory presentation: an understanding of the mechanics of the practice

Step 3: Personal interview: A conversation with me, Meryl, to see if The SpeakStrong Method is for you.

Step 4: Practice immersion: A deep experience of the foundational SpeakStrong Method practice

Steps 5-9: Follow-up sessions with Meryl

The intensive includes:

  • private phone collaborations with me
  • email support
  • communication style and leadership assessments
  • a mutually generated report of findings
  • mutually generated and revised communication action plans 
  • The Quick Start Communication Transformation Book Package.

The follow-up phone collaborations will integrate a learning agenda with addressing your specific challenges of business communication. In addition, they will offer opportunities for real-time communication feedback, checking in on our communication with each other to optimize our dynamic for maximum learning and results.

The SpeakStrong Method Quick Start Intensive will empower your essential expression. Cost: $500


Option #2:

Same as above, with the added benefit of a weekly webinar with up to six other intensive practitioners. These webinars will facilitate group learning and group practice. Total cost: $600

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SpeakStrong Method Private Intensive

Seven private sessions in The SpeakStrong Method practice


I don’t do crisis communication coaching. Instead, I teach a communication improvement method. In this seven session intensive, you’ll learn principles and practices of The SpeakStrong Method, and I’ll support you as you practice what you learn with me in real time and in your own life.


Part 1: Free introductory interview. We’ll get to know each other and set our aspirations. We will start the practice from the first minute of our conversation.

Part 2: Practice immersion: six sessions of a half hour each with assignments and unlimited email support.

Part 3: Follow-up sessions with me are available.

Our phone collaborations will integrate a learning agenda with addressing your specific communication challenges. In addition, they will offer opportunities for 360 real-time communication feedback.

To schedule your introduction, email me:

  • MerylRunion@SpeakStrong.com

Or call:

  • 719-684-2633

 You can now save $300 on this $500 deal by using the coupon code ISpeakStrong.

buy now

If you like what you experience in our introductory session but aren’t ready to commit to a series,
individual sessions with me are available for only $40 per half hour.

buy now

Learn more about The SpeakStrong Method in this SlideShare.

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Inspiring SpeakStrong Keynotes

Powerful Keynotes For Every Educational Level 
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SpeakStrong keynote presentations can run anywhere from 20 to 90 minutes. They are entertaining, inspiring and informational.

Speak Strong with Grace and Savvy:
How to Use the Three Sources of Power to Master Tough Conversations 
Today more than ever before, professionals need to be strong, savvy, and saintly. Sound impossible? It’s not. Learn how the most effective professionals get people to respect their authority with little or no disagreement. Learn how to cut to the core of every conversation to get the information and understanding you need – fast. Discover the words to use to take charge without sounding like you’re trying to take over. Find out how savvy individuals refer to their jobs and their responsibilities in ways that win them respect and cooperation. Get six “secret weapons” you can use immediately to master those tough exchanges you need to have every day. Finally, learn the Ultimate Communication Formula that will guide every word you speak from the moment you start work until you head back home at the end of the day.


Conflict Management Alchemy:
Finding the opportunity in Contention, Confrontation and Conflict
Skilled conflict managers know how to look at conflict through eyes that lead to resolution. They know the difference between being resolute and stubborn. They know the difference between being assertive and aggressive. They know what words and behaviors incite the very resistance we want to overcome. They know how to use power rather than force. This remarkable keynote tells you how to look at conflict through a lens that will transform conflict to resolution. 

Communication Style Alchemy: 
Embracing Different Communication Styles 
If someone’s words seem like Greek to you, chances are you have different communication styles. This entertaining keynote takes an amusing look at the four different styles of communication and how to communicate with someone whose style is significantly different from your own. It includes hilarious anecdotes that tell tales not only of how people have miscommunicated, but how they learned to overcome their communication barriers. 

Brand Aid: 
How to Prepare and Package Your Potently Personal Message 
The world is full of writers, trainers and speakers, but is painfully devoid of true original thinkers. The Stephen Coveys and the Tom Peters in the world stand out because they do something that other educators do not; they create new paradigms that not only get people looking at things differently, but get them looking at different things. This keynote tells you how to take your ideas and develop them into transformative concepts that become embedded deeply into the psyche of your audiences. This concrete presentation provides eight guiding principles that are essential to convert ordinary ideas into original systems of thought that others embrace. 

Wake Up and Smell the Power: 

How Candor Is Your Key to Outrageous Success 

Too often your success is limited by the things you don’t say. The ideas you don’t share, the injustices you silently tolerate and the questions you don’t ask hide your key to propelling you to your next level of outrageous success. This dynamic and entertaining keynote opens your eyes to what you are not saying, and unlocks the doors that keep you from saying it.

Communication Standards: 
Codes and Commitments for Clarity, Candor and Civility 
Once upon a time, society hid behind communication norms that valued politeness at the cost of clarity. Recent years have seen those norms dissolve into the chaos of a verbal free-for-all. While there is much to be said for the abandonment of rigid communication norms that prohibited the mere mention of sensitive issues, there is more to be said for new standards of communication that promote clarity, candor and civility. This fun and highly practical keynote explains the need to establish standards of communication to get your company, community and colleagues communicating by the same game plan. 

Some Boats Need to Be Rocked:
Meryl sm hipsCommunication Skills to Challenge the Status Quo and Catalyze Excellence

There’s nothing safe about playing it safe. What worked yesterday can hold you back today. The name of today’s game is continuous improvement, and continuous improvement means questioning everything. Questioning everything requires well-honed communication skills. Find out how to use “PowerPhrases” to say what you mean and mean what you say, without being mean when you say it – and to rock boats constructively. Learn how to probe into limited thinking, bad habits and failed systems in ways that inspire creative thinking and action. Learn to develop compelling visions that inspire people to work together toward shared aspirations. Get the five questions essential to any improvement effort. Discover transformational phrases that Lean Organizations use to rock the boats that need rocking and promote everyday excellence.


Specialized topics include:

The Lean Leadership Challenge: Communicate to lead excellence
≈Recommended for lean leaders and those who want to manage lean 

The Collaborative Advantage: Creating a dynamic continuous improvement communication culture
≈ Recommended for lean leaders and those who want to manage to learn 

The Proficiency Memo: Communicating competence to win respect and get results when you’re not in charge
≈ Recommended for Administrative Assistants, Executive Assistants, office professionals and support staff 

Meryl Runion Speaking at Athena Woman's Conference

Some Boats Need to be Rocked: Productive conversations about things that matter
≈ Recommended for any audience

Kata Talk: The Chutes and Ladders of Continuous Improvement
≈ Recommended for the quality industry

Conference Communication Sandwich: Phrases and tips to get the most out of your convention or event experience
≈ Recommended for any audience or gathering

To order the DVD, CD, or MP3 of this presentation, Click Here.

See descriptions by using the menu or clicking “next”.

See training options here.

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Training: The SpeakStrong Method for Continuous Improvement with Lean

Phrases, formulas and kata for continuous improvement

continuous improvement

Are your effective communication skills as strong as your challenges are difficult? 

Do they continuously improve along with your processes? 

Communication is culture. As your improvement journey evolves, are your best practice communication skills keeping up?

Leadership and management communication are challenging enough in the simplest circumstances. The challenge increases multi-fold in the dynamic environment of a continuous improvement culture where leaders, managers, operators, educators, deep researchers and others strive to make improvements happen every day.

You can’t coerce continuous improvement. Your words need to inspire pull and prime the pump of collaborative excellence. It takes new language to communicate new ideas. Precise wording can inspire people to accept challenges and create new ideas and guide them through their challenges without triggering defensiveness and resistance. The SpeakStrong Method can support your lean journey.

The SpeakStrong Method is lean-aligned and kata-based

The SpeakStrong Method is founded on kaizen principles very similiar to the principles that underlie Lean, or Toyota Production System. The lean and quality industry were among my best clients before I recognized the alignment of my methods and their communication challenges. Fortunately, they figured it out before I did, and eventually I became a student of lean thinking, Toyota and employee empowerment, and a researcher of Lean communication. 

The Lean community is going through a process of evolution to the incorporation of kata – or practices. Researcher Mike Rother was the first to detail the mechanics of the kata behind Toyota and employee empowerment.

The SpeakStrong Method also recommends kata to promote continuous communication improvement.

It systematically develops communication skill at every level by providing phrases, formulas and practical kata to develop your ability to practice lean. Communication standards provide concrete, shared targets to guide each step of communication PDCA cycles. A series of formulas, phrases and practices helps you eliminate communication waste, overload and inconsistency as your communication develops flow, effectiveness and efficiency.

The SpeakStrong Method provides a communication foundation for your lean and continuous improvement efforts

This program begins by describing and applying The SpeakStrong Method. We’ll practice a shared vision exercise to inspire a shared vision of what communication perfection is in a lean/continuous improvement culture. We’ll contrast that to our current communication reality, and create action steps toward target communication states. 

Then we’ll look at the specific communication challenges of continuous improvement cultures, as well as how to talk effectively about lean and continuous improvement.

Some specific take-aways will be: 

  • The vital role of humility, what it looks like and how to turn “teacher syndrome” and other forms of rankism into reciprocal learning relationships
  • The fine distinctions in word choice that make the difference between tired old ideas and expressions of a dynamic new reality
  • How to apply a PDCA cycle to your communication development
  • How to identify power-based language that blocks the open sharing of ideas – in yourself and others – and to replace it with collaborative, peer-based language that creates flow
  • Why getting simple is difficult and what to do about it
  • Phrases to talk about and practice lean and continuous improvement at every stage of the lean journey including how to…
    • share the depth and significance of your own lean journey
    • get people to stay open long enough to identify the root cause before prematurely jumping to solutions
    • defuse defensiveness
    • inspire creativity that is grounded in reality and aligned with mission
    • create standards of communication and affirm commitment to them
    • elevate “either/or,” false choice objections into new options

Discover ways to add impact, clarity and effectiveness to your message to bring lean principles to life. 

The SpeakStrong Method for Continuous Improvement with Lean will give you all the tools to stay on the high side of every conversation and to keep your communication developing as dynamically as your processes are.

Contact Meryl  to bring your lean practices to life with continuous improvement communication.

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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. 

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We need people like you

Melissa sent out an association newsletter that got rave reviews from everyone but Jade. Jade emailed back a series of criticisms and corrections. Melissa replied,


  • Thanks, Jade. We need people like you to help with the newsletter. Would you like to join the team?

Jade did, and her input was both helpful, and more balanced now that she was a part of the project. Melissa was tempted to resist the input, and was glad she embraced it instead. 

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Collaborate without compromise

Do you collaborate without compromise? Do you transcend the limits of your egocentric perception and existing knowledge, pool your ideas with other thinkers and strive together toward a shared objective or outcome?

collabnocompSome things should never be compromised. Compromise is a waste when a much better collaborative outcome is available – IF you’re willing to stay open long enough to discover it. Speaking Strong is collaborating without compromise. Here’s a phrase that captures the spirit.

  • Is that the best solution we can come up with? I don’t want either one of us to compromise – I want us to find an option that is better than what either one of us could come up with on our own.

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