"Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say Without Being Mean When You Say It" ~ Meryl Runion Rose                                ShoppingCart Plum NB 50

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Once you know who you are as an individual and you know what your unique contribution is to the team, family and group, you have the foundation to SpeakStrong from The Synergy Center. 

PowerPhrase: Next Time I'll

PowerPhrase 300

  • Next time I'll

These are favored words of mine. They take the failings and foibles of today and flip them forward into a promise of tomorrow that is richer and fuller because I learned from today.

  • Next time we'll

I love these words too. They turn the injurer and the injuried into partners moving forward. Instead of needing to set boundries - oh - I'll never invite her to this kind of event again - "next time we'll" sparks a conversation that lets us stay traveling companions. I love (respect, value) her and don't want to cut her out. I want to find our perfect place in each other's lives. I want to take the shared failings and foibles of today and flip them forward into a promise of tomorrow that is richer and fuller because we learned from today.

We shared from the heart and decided next time we would. And after we did, she called me a true friend. It does take one to know one. 

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PowerPhrase: So, That's a No?

powerphrase icon2"You said you were going to make hard-boiled eggs. Did you?"

I replied that he had told me he didn't like hard-boiled eggs. So, when I decided to have eggs for breakfast, I didn't see any reason to hard-boil any.

  • So, that's a no?

...he asked. His response taught me a lot about how I communicate.

I had immediately gone into an explanation of why I hadn't made hard-boiled eggs. It was a slightly defensive reaction. I realized later that he simply wanted to know if all the eggs in the carton were raw before he cracked some open to make his omelet. 

I did everything but answer his question. Of course, had he asked if the eggs were all still raw or if there were some hard-boiled ones mixed in, I might have answered more directly.

I like the way he clarified my answer. It made me conscious of how indirect my response was. I caught myself doing something I often note other people doing. I often find that people go into long explanations instead answering my questions. For example, if I ask if someone is available to work, I often get an in-depth run-down of everything that person is doing. I feel like I've been taken down rabbit holes and am not sure what the point was.

  • So, that's a no?

Pretty simple, really.

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"Mr. Rogers' Birthday Song" Needs to SpeakStronger

We promised my friend Susan that we would sing her a happy birthday song, but not the traditional one. I chose Mr. Rogers' birthday song; however, I was struck by its passive tone and felt a need to revise it. Here are the words:

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Dear Friend. We sing to you. 
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to you.

We thought we’d try to tell you how we love you on your birthday.
We thought we’d try to sing and dance and play today.

We wanted to surprise you on your birthday and say,
We love you every day. Not just today. 

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Dear Friend. We sing to you. 
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday to you.

How many limiting words do you detect in the lyrics? What are they?

"We thought" and "try" and "we wanted" stand out to me. We didn't just think it, we did it. We didn't try to tell her we loved her, we told her. And we did more than try to dance, sing and play. 

It's a lovely and sweet song. We just needed to remove the "respect-robbing poison phrases."

Susan loved it.

After you've digested that one, check out the "Happy Birthday Song" by Casey Jones. It was my favorite as a child, but even then I was uncomfortable with part of the message and wanted to change some words. See if they hit you as a bit off. 

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PowerPhrase: How Do You Like to Receive Feedback?

powerphrase icon2"What if you say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it, and the person you're speaking to still gets their feelings hurt?"

That was a question for me at the end of my keynote.

You could be the perfect communicator, using the perfect phrases, with the perfect body language and still find your words sting. The "Ultimate Communication Formula" doesn't guarantee roses and lolipops. What it does do, is give you confidence that if someone reacts to your words, you gave it your best. 

The speaker before me had given tips for offering feedback. I added a few comments. 

  1. Ask people how they like to receive feedback moving forward. Sometimes I'll say, "That didn't go as well as I had hoped. How could I have said that better? How can I give feedback in a way that works for you?"
  2. Cultivate a continuous improvement culture where feedback doesn't imply you did something wrong. If we're all improving each step of the way, feedback is a welcome gift that helps us reach the next level.
  3. Share your own mistakes when you talk about theirs. Then, move on to discussing how to avoid making similar errors in the future. For example, when someone missed an appointment with me because they got their days confused, I mentioned that the last time I had gotten my days mixed up, I showed up a day early. Then we went on to discuss using TimeBridge to track our appointments.

Of all these tips, what is key for me, and often not even considered, is to ask:

  • How do you like to receive feedback?

(P.S. On an unrelated note: I made it home from Long Beach just fine. The pass had opened three hours before my flight landed. Yay for that!)

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PowerPhrase: I Won't Get in the Middle

powerphrase icon2I knew better than to get in the middle of that arguement. If her husband thought it wasn't safe for her to go to her favorite restaurant this early in her recovery, I wasn't going to take her. I told them:

  • I can't be in the middle of this. You two need to decide on this together. I suggest we find a restaurant with easy access that you both feel good about.

Her husband immediately got on board with that. He said "I suppose Bob Evan's isn't special enough." He wasn't trying to deny her a night out. He was trying to keep her safe. Bob Evan's wouldn't do it for her but we found an easily accessible restaurant that did.

Ironically, right after I made my stand, I received an email from a relative who had taken her to the less accessible restaurant even earlier in her recovery. The email contained a description of the near disaster of that night. In the email, the relative told me, despite everyone's misgivings, "there was no talking her out of it." 

I didn't talk her out of it. I just declined to take her.

Do you waste energy trying to convince people of things when what you really need to do is state (and honor) your terms? This experience helped me see other places in my life where I'd been trying to get people to understand my position, when I really just needed to say what I would do and then do what I said.

Dinner at the alternative restaurant was excellent. And everyone involved learned that there are alternatives to ignoring someone's concerns. 

Good boundaries sure make life simpler. For everyone.

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Nixing the multi-tasking

  • This might be one of the most important report-of-findings you ever receive, and I won't share it with you when you're driving. We can have this phone meeting when you get back.

That's a PowerPhrase I don't need to explain.


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Phrase: This is a conversation I want to continue

My father brought up a touchy conversation about something that happened many, many - over 25 years - ago. It was too explosive to talk about then, but now conversations are much easier than they were. It was an opportunity for intimacy. I wanted to take it. And I kept my vendor waiting several minutes as we explored it. Then I told him,

  • This is a conversation I want to continue, and I have someone waiting for me right now.

It was, of course, the truth. It also gave me the opportunity to shift my perspective from the one that was frozen in time so many years ago. It's a quick process now - but it's still a process. I went from defensiveness to offense to forgiveness to embracing the opportunity to clear up old conflicts and get to know each other better now. In the past, any one of those stages could have taken me days, weeks, months or even years to move through. 

Last night we picked up where we had left off. It was sweet, sweet, sweet.

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Great response to "How's your day going?"

"How's your day going?" I asked. He answered,

  • Fast.

I loved it. Who can't relate to that? It was a considered response to a general question. 

So... how's your day going? Can you answer with a single word that says it all?

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She Betrayed Me! Well, Kind Of

I Spoke Strong. I said what I meant. Well, to the best of my ability in that moment. I knew what I didn't want, I knew what I did want, and I knew why. I just didn't understand why I felt so strongly about "Amy's" behavior. Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury of waiting until I knew.

It was a rough couple of days for the whole team as the chips fell and were sorted. I knew my words stung, and I don't like hurting people.

In addition to the team, I reached out to friends for support. The first person I spoke with is overcoming a victim habit. She has become incredibly articulate. She is woman, hear her roar! She made statements like, "Amy betrayed me, she wasn't at my level, I pushed her shame button because she knew I was on target. She stuck it to me in the way she apologized." When I got off the phone with my friend, my husband asked me what she had said. I told him, "She said I'm great and everyone else sucks."

Of course my friend didn't actually say that at all. Still, her words built me up at Amy's expense. I indulged, just for a while, in the power of that. In fact, that kind of power can be very seductive. I allowed myself to experience it just long enough to anchor my confidence in my own perceptions. 

But the truth is, I value my relationship with Amy. I respect her. And in light of our years of working together, this transgression is a small thing. I had to address it BECAUSE I value the relationship. I couldn't rest in a perception that excluded that. Plus, any time I feel puffed up and better than others, I know a fall is around the corner.

I found balance, and then visited another friend who both clearly understood why I needed to speak, and also affirmed Amy's likely innocent intention.That set the groundwork for the next step.

I figured out why it mattered so much. I reconnected with the vision that had inspired me to hire Amy in the first place. I was able to articulate the vision and the role I hired her for in a way that the whole team could understand and commit to.

What it came down to was, I had felt betrayed because Amy had undermined a vision she had never agreed to uphold. Now, she and the rest of the team share my vision with me.

The remarkable thing is, while we fumbled to understand what happened, we never lost our sense of valuing each other or our confidence that we would get to the higher side of things. It was that bond that allowed us the freedom to not paper over it before we had learned its lessons and uncovered its gifts.

If Speaking Strong were easy, everyone would do it. It can be very challenging - and equally rewarding.

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The woman who honored me by applying my phrasing

chair"Are you at your computer?" I asked.

"No", she said. "I'm curled up in a comfortable chair. My candle's lit." 

Her phrase referred to a blog post from two days ago, where I wrote about a candle being lit as a metaphor for being completely focused on the other person.

The fact that her "candle was lit" for me was an honor in itself. But this phrase showed how attentive she is. She doesn't just read my words. She lets them influence her. (I let her words inspire me, too. We're both better for it.)

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The man whose candle was lit and was completely there

candleRecently a friend called me for a conversation while waiting for a doctor's appointment. That wouldn't have been a problem if the call was to relay information. But the purpose of the call was to discuss how we could understand each other better. Some defensiveness had crept into our conversations, and we had planned to talk about how we could change that. 

I wasn't sure whether to attempt to have this delicate discussion under these circumstances, but after a few preliminaries, I dove in to what I had been struggling to say to her. About 45 seconds after I started, she interrupted me to tell me she needed to go because the doctor was ready.

This is not the way to have an intimate conversation. Fortunatley, we spoke later in the week under better circumstances, and it went well.

More recently yet, a group of my friends and I planned a New Year's visioning discussion. One of the members scheduled a handy man at the same time. She was texting, couldn't get where she could receive a strong signal, and clearly was distracted. This is not the way to have an intimate conversation either. 

I once had a mentor who multi-tasked when we spoke. I asked him what the noise I heard was, and he explained he was sortng poetry.

When I spoke with my current mentor about conversations in uncondusive situations, he remarked:

  • When you call me, my candle is lit and I'm all yours.

I like the metaphor. Lighting a candle invokes a tone—a mood—that is condusive to tender feeling, safety, and a lack of defensiveness. It sends a signal that you are giving yourself to whatever activity or conversation you are embarking on.

So next time you have a valued conversation, you may not need to light an actual candle, but light a metaphorical one. Create a situation where if you said,

  • My candle is lit and I'm all yours

they would feel it. 

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Article Use

Please copy, quote, distribute, share and publish these articles with the following credits.

©2015 Meryl Runion Rose. Meryl is a Certified Speaking Professional and the Creator of the SpeakStrong Method of Dynamically Effective Communication. Find her at www.SpeakStrong.com

Let me know how you use them. Thanks!  

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