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

Be Strong. Be Clear. Be Kind. Be Free. Be YOU!!!


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. 

Have you shopped your own closet?

shop-closet-smallI enjoy shopping and have too much stuff. So when I am tempted to shop more, I ask myself,

  • Have you shopped your own closet?

It's a wonderful reminder to tap into my existing resources.

If I were a decorator, I'd be a RE-decorator. I'd be one of those people who help others repurpose what they already have to create beauty in their homes. Of course, I'd miss out on those wonderful commissions on new furniture and decor items, but the satisfaction would be great. I feel it when I transform my own home without spending a dime.

Shopping your own closet can be a metaphor for any approach to using existing resources. I asked Angela to help me get started on a proposal. She shopped my closet - things I wrote before - and reminded me of what I already have.

Here's another kind of personal closet shopping. My eye doctor told me I had dry eyes, so I shopped my own closet of ways to address dryness - not just in my eyes, but system-wide. Not only are my eyes moist again, but my moods, which had been volatile, are steady and sweet, too. I had everything I needed to find balance.

Before you go out, go in and see what resources you have. Ask yourself:

  • Have you shopped your own closet?

Of course, it helps if your closet is in order. Some of us are too busy shopping the stores to take the time to organize our own closets (metaphorical and otherwise) to be shopable.  

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Bumps on the teamwork road

bumpy_roadWe've been working together for many years, but that doesn't mean we never collide. It does mean that the collisions are much less frustrating, inflaming and painful than they used to be. In fact, they usually lead to a stronger partnership.

Today he declined a meeting time request for an important project and suggested an alternative that was too far out to be practical. My reaction was to want to blast him about the need to make our project a higher priority. My response was to suggest an alternative date that was closer in. He agreed.

After this exchange, our interaction felt clunky. So I got to the heart of my issue and said,

  • We've been working as a team with increasing effectiveness, and the fact that we could take on a project like this and have it be so smooth is a testament to our teamwork. Right now, in this project I need you more on board. I respect your time demands and also I need to know you're willing to commit the time to make this project ours.

He confessed that as soon as he recommended the later date, he knew it came across as dismissive. 

There was a time when this kind of bump in the road would have been drawn out and hurtful. What's different now? The accusations and defenses are all but gone. We're both committed to the effectiveness of the partnership and to bringing out the best in each other.

I trust there will be a day when almost all the bumps will be readily absorbed by our partnership shock absorbers. I say almost, not all. If we never feel any bumps, we'll know we're relating on familiar ground and not stretching. So while I like a smooth ride, I respect the inevitable bumps that come with any dynamic relationship. And so do the people I have successful partnerships and associations with.

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PowerPhrase: I relate because...

powerphrase_icon2"Joe" was eager to tell me all the details of a recent luncheon fiasco. It took a long time before they started serving food, the chairs were hard and the lines were long.

I didn't have to imagine why that was so tedious. I attended a wedding reception last week where the bride and groom arrived an hour after the guests, and then they invited people to get thier food by table numbers. We were table 22 out of 22 tables. We were right by the serving lines, and yet it took another hour before we could serve ourselves. So I told Joe about my experience.

"Yes, but you're much younger than I am, so it's not so difficult," Joe replied.

Wait - is this a competition? I don't know if Joe thought I was trying to steal his thunder, or if he intended to come across competitively, but his words did plant competitive seeds.

I replied,

  • I'm saying that I feel your pain because you're describing a situation similar to one I've had recently.

Joe was satisfied with that. 

Have you ever found yourself in an argument and wondered how or why it happened? I sure have. Related experiences like we had can be the source of bonding - or the source of dueling. I know which choice I prefer. You?

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Coaxing us out of our minds

powerphrase_icon2My dance group closes with single word summaries of our individual experiences. It's a lovely way to end. A single word summary generally comes from the heart and experience, rather than the mind, and thinking. You can tell someone didn't get deeply into the dance if they intellectualize the simple sharing, use several words, and express ideas and thoughts instead of an experience. That doesn't happen often.

This week I created the playlist for my dance group. The single words people shared after our dance were closely aligned to the experience I had intended to elicit. Hearing their words deepened my own experience and appreciation.

My work involves coaxing people out of their minds to get to the heart of their message. People often think they don't know what to say because their minds hijacked their perceptions. In a way, I trick people into expressing authentically by setting up situations that get their minds out of the way. A single word summary is a great tool for that. It can coax us out of our minds.

So try it. If someone is having trouble describing something, ask them,

  • If you had to sum it up in a single word, what would it be?

Be prepared to be surprised by what you hear. And be prepared for them to be surprised by what comes out of their mouths. It's a powerful tool. When I coax people out of their minds, I'm usually in awe of what they have to say. And so are they. 

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PowerPhrase: Target vs. Actual We don't fail. We learn.

powerphrase_icon2One big creativity buster is having to get things "right" the first time. Last month, my assistant Angela and I created a new target structure for our work together. We created it as an experiment rather than a do-or-die goal. Then life happened. Our target vs. actual were so different that an outside observer to what actually happened wouldn't have a clue what we were striving toward.

When it came time to debrief our attempts, it wasn't about blame. We compared target vs. actual and acknowledged how different they were. But we work from a philosophy that we affirm this way:

  • We don't fail, we learn.

In this case, we discovered that our target had been overly ambitious. Both of us felt strain trying to be available to the other within the new structure. It was a flawed system, with two people in it trying, but unable, to fit our activities into the system. Sound familiar?

I speak only for myself here. In the course of the trial, I found myself tempted to blame Angela for the fact that we were so far off target. I felt irritation from straining to meet the target, and really had to watch myself to keep from projecting that as some flaw of hers. I know better, but was tempted anyway. I can say this: Angela acknowledged that striving to meet the structure we had set had been a strain for her as well.

The really cool thing is, we didn't fail, we learned. We replaced our old structure with a more realistic one, and the very first day we tried it, we both felt at home with it. Every management trainer will tell you SMART goals are realistic, and setting unattainable goals is a set-up for failure. Unrealistic goals demoralize staff.

Well, you don't always know what's realistic until you try, and that's why being kata-based - or practice based - and running experiments to see what targets are stretches and what targets are strains - is a very useful thing. As long as you remember: When you earnestly strive toward a stretch goal, you don't fail as long as you learn. 

Will we stick exactly to the times and agreements we structured? Probably not. Even though we're currently in a place that seems good so far, with each step we learn more. That means we will continue to refine and adjust, but one thing you can count on, we won't fail.

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Do this before you open your mouth


If you do this before you open your mouth, it can save you a world of grief.

Make sure you're looking at things from the high side.

The high side is the unobstructed view without the burden of your ego, agenda or a need to prove anything. The high side is loyal to the truth, the team and genuine understanding with no need to score points.

Okay, here's a news flash for you. I don't naturally live on the high side all the time. I have an ego that can be sticky at times. Most of the time I know when my ego wants to do the talking. When that happens, I don't fight with my ego, but I don't lead with it either. I do things to elevate my perceptions and get me seeing the high side of life. THEN I have the conversation.

It's tough to get enough serotonin (feel-good neurotransmitters) to stay up in the winter. Doing things to improve health and well-being is particularly important in months like February when we're all pulled below the cloud cover at times. Exercise, fresh air, reading things that inspire you, reflection, all can help you see that the sun is still shining, even when you don't see it. And it's a good idea to bank a little extra, like take a hike before your attitude signals that you need it. 

You can't solve a problem at the same level it was created. You need to bump your perception up a notch. So take care of you, and then open your mouth. In fact, I think I'll take a bit of my own medicine right now and take care of me.

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Are you "too enthusiastic"? Here's your PowerPhrase.

powerphrase_icon2Have you ever been "accused" of being "too enthusiastic"? I have. 

In excess, our very best traits can also be our worst flaws. But what do you do when you naturally are enthusiastic and people say it's too much?

If you're Wanda, you ask,

  •          What would a more appropriate level of enthusiasm look like?

That question got her a useful response. Her client told her the concern was that her enthusiasm would cause her to make light of genuine issues and challenges. People simply needed to know she has critical thinking skills and is capable of having the challenging conversations that the job she was interviewing for requires.

She knew she could, and she demonstrated that quality in subsequent interviews. 

More importantly, by asking for specific information, she was able to clear up something that had confused her for a very long time. She had wondered - how could anyone be too enthusiastic? Now she understood what the deeper concern was. Now she won't let her enthusiasm make her appear to lack critical thinking skills. (In fact, her skills were sharp enough to tell her that wasn't the job for her.)

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PowerPhrase: Show me

powerphrase_icon2My friend Paul (who owns a manufacturing company) declared, "I hate theory!" He avoids abstraction and very much favors concrete examples and direct experience.

Now I don't hate theory, but I like to have enough concreteness to be able to understand how theories play out in on-the-ground reality. That's one reason why my phrase books are so useful - they bring theory down to earth and back to life.

So, like Paul, I use this PowerPhrase a lot.

  • Show me.

My cue for that phrase is when I start to get an ungrounded feeling in my stomach. Do you know that one? Now, if I have a lot of experience in an area, I can hear theory without getting that sense. But if I have nothing to tie theory to, my reptillian brainlet starts to revolt and request grounding with an example.

Try it yourself. The next time someone is talking in ways that don't make sense to you, simply ask them this:

  • Can you show me?
  • What does that look like?
  • How would I know when that happens?

Shall I show you? Would you like to "see" how that works in the workplace? Check out yesterday's blog post. 

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Can you guess this PowerPhrase?

There's a PowerPhrase that most business people have the opportunity to use every day, and many neglect to. Can you guess what it is?

powerphrase_icon2Many professionals consider it unprofessional to omit this PowerPhrase, and say you can tell someone is a professional who uses it deliberately. While the PowerPhrase is universal, everyone has their own version of it. Do you know what it is yet?

Some people think that not using this PowerPhrase is disrespectful, because it it causes more work for others. Neglecting it certainly can cause lost opportunity. Any idea yet?

A vendor sent me a message the other day and didn't include this PowerPhrase. That caused a problem.

Okay... if you haven't guessed yet (or if you have), here's the deal. Your phone number is a PowerPhrase. Your contact info is a PowerPhrase. Make it easy for people to get back to you by stating it clearly and slowly enough for them to be able to understand it and write it down. This applies, even if you think they have it, but especially if you're not certain that they do. 

It's common courtesy - which tends to be pretty powerful. So consider getting in the habit of being one of those professionals who uses it. 





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Every good conversation deserves a proper good-bye

When McGraw Hill asked me if I was interested in writing Perfect Phrases for Icebreakers, I accepted, partly because I had come to realize how much the way you open a conversation matters. Openings set the stage for good interaction. 

powerphrase_icon2Closings matter, too. You know this if you've ever been on the phone with someone who ended abruptly or clearly left you (in terms of attention) before the conversation had been mutually concluded. It feels odd.

Sometimes I'll be ending a conversation when someone else will call, show up or otherwise invite my attention. Since the conversation is all but complete, it's tempting to rush off to take the next call or tend to the visitor. What I prefer is to ask,

  • Can you hang on just a sec? I want to ask this person to wait a moment so we can say a proper good-bye. 

Most people appreciate the effort to close the conversation with the grace it deserves. I've yet to have anyone object to the short wait.

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Read more: Every good conversation deserves a proper good-bye

PowerPhrases take a magic eye

East and west meet in the Movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. One of the characters loves India and the other does not. At one point the dissenting character asks the perfect question.

Power Phrase

  •  What are you seeing that I'm not?

Most conflict happens between people who see the upside of one polarity and the downside of another. It's easy to dismiss people who see the upside of the perspective you don't embrace, and the downside of the one you do.

It's more effective to ask about what they're seeing that you're missing.

Have you ever looked at a "Magic Eye" illustration? At first it looks like a bunch of odd images. Once you develop the "magic eye" you can see embedded three dimensional images. Before I developed my ability to see them, I was tempted to conclude that those who said they saw them were playing tricks on me.

Which brings us to the second PowerPhrase.

  • How are you looking at it to see it that way?

My husband couldn't see magic eye images either - until he received instructions about how.

face vase illusion

A question of style

My husband and I have very different styles. For years, we were baffled by each other's perspectives. Once we developed the habit of inquiring into embracing the other's view, we started learning a lot about each other - and about what perspectives we were missing. Now, the same qualities that once seemed so baffling are the qualities we value most in each other. 

In fact, as many people do, we went through stages of conflict to compromise. But once we became able to more readily see what the other saw, we also became able to more readily collaborate without compromise.

Style differences are often the result of favoring the upside of one style and dismissing the upside of another. Likeables and Visionaries see the beauty of being people-oriented and can miss the value of being task-oriented that Directives and Reflectives embrace. And visa versa. Visionaries and Directives see the value of speed and can miss the value of a more considered pace that Likeables and Reflectives embrace. You can explore your style here

One perspective can complement another

It's like the standard images where you can see one thing or another. Is the image on the right a face, or a vase? The answer, of course, is yes! And the most interesting thing about it, is the two images are interdependent. Take the faces away and there is no vase. Take the vase away and there are no faces. So if you see one aspect and someone else sees another, their view does not negate yours, it augments it. 

When you find yourself on the opposite side of a polarity from someone, you can learn the most by shifting your perspective to see what they see. Only then will they be likely to be able to hear your concerns about the downside of the side they represent and the upside, or value of your perspective. 

We can cling to one view or another, but the reality is much bigger than any of us see by ourselves. That's why it takes all of us talking with each other to move forward. 

But wait, there's more. There comes a point where you cannot just see the face and the vase alternatively. You can see them simultaneously. Communication gets even more dynamic when you do. 

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Do you want to process what happened some more?

It's such a blessing to have people who are able to be completely present when we need to verbally process an experience or emotion. Penny listened with her full attention for over an hour when Mary needed to sort through powerphrase_icon2an experience that took her down (but not out) for a while. They went with their day, but when they reconnected later on Skype, Penny asked,

  • Do you want to process some more?

Mary was sensitive about imposing on Penny, but did want to talk some more. She was very grateful to not have to ask.

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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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