Communication skills are great in theory, but how are they in practice? This Effective Communication Skill Blogshows you how to walk the SpeakStrong talk. I'm Meryl Runion Rose. Join our conversation about Communication Alchemy, and saying what you mean and meaning what you say... without being mean when you say it.
The Communication Alchemist is IN. Are you IN too?
Jacob brought his young daughter, Journey, to Communidance with him yesterday. He was in the band. Journey danced a little and later sat across from her father during the closing circle.
When the circle ended, Journey got up and walked across the room toward her father with the most loving look imaginable in her eyes. Jacob lit up in response, and Journey collapsed into her father's lap for a beautiful hug.
I felt privileged to witness it. (I also marveled over what it might be like to not fear your father as a child, but that's another story.)
Recently, when I returned from Cincinnati, my flight was late out, so I missed my connection. I was upgraded to first class for the later flight, and I looked forward to some good rest.
But the lady who sat next to me was an extroverted flight attendant, and one of the attendants on duty was her best friend. They lit up to see each other, and spent close to half the flight in lively and dynamic conversation. I might have asked them to keep it down, but I felt privileged to witness their excitement about being together.
I remember a speaker once telling audiences to raise their eyebrows and look excited to see people. It was a how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people kind of recommendation. But there is no faking the kind of caring I witnessed in these two events.
If you do want to win friends and influence people, I say, don't fake it. Commit to removing any and all obstacles to genuinely loving them. Cultivate tenderness, gratitude and appreciation. Some things won't be faked. There ain't nothing like the real thing.
I 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.
***Note: if you received this post via email and it has old posts with it, I ask your forgiveness. I think we've got the blog fixed at last and that will be the last time that happens.
"It was a fantastic visit," my father told me as I called from my flight home. I hadn't asked permission to pack up their house so the realtor could list it. But I had told them what I was up to, and neither one had told me not to do it. I cried with both of them over the end of a life they knew and loved.
The realtor will stage the house, but I staged the garage so they would know I handled the artifacts of their lives with care. The labels were color-coordinated and lovingly affixed. And when mom wanted to know where her knives were, I was able to tell her how to find them easily.
Now they can settle in to their new home in assisted living more easily. I hadn't asked permission and they both did get angry with me for a moment or two. But I clearly was forgiven. It was a fantastic visit.
I figured out a long time ago that there are two essentials for flying. Credit card and ID. There are lots of important things, but only those two are truly essential. Today, as I left the house for the airport, I checked - as I always do - to make sure I had those two items.
Yes, underwear is really nice to have. And I am happy about the 15 DVDs I'm bringing with me so mom and I will have lots to choose from. I consider those things important.
But when I leave for the airport, I don't let the important get in the way of the essential. I also don't sweat the important. But the essential I do. I have my credit cards and ID. I"m posting this from the airport, where I know I have everything I REALLY need.
What are your essentials for different things that you do?
My hubby is a metaphorical catastrophizer. He doesn't just angst over the worst that could happen, he creates multiple metaphors to describe the depth of dispair that comes waiting with "a sword hanging over his head" for "the other shoe to drop."
He ordered a new computer as soon as he got the clue that his current one was about to blow its hard drive. But in the meantime, the clicks and sluggishness and every indication of it's waning health sends terror into his heart like "being in a war zone and hearing bombs drop and not knowing how far away they are." And like "being half way out in the ocean and wondering if your boat will spring a leak." Or like "driving a car you never know will start or not." Of course it could stall in the intersection.
This AM the first thing he told me was about how his mind had been racing with ideas at 3 AM. I wanted to go back to bed, because I assumed he had all manner of new metaphors for me. But he didn't. He shifted into a proactive way of looking at things. He made a list of what he could do to ensure that he could still operate his business should his computer die before its replacement was ready to rock and roll.
And suddenly it became enjoyable for me to support him in his wet war zone car. The sword over his head didn't seem nearly as threatening and if the other shoe dropped, he, and we, had plans that would make it easier for him, and therefore us, to deal with it.
PS. He just came up the stairs after opening his computer and informed me, "It's like skating on a lake of ice and you don't know how solid it it." Well, the metaphors continue, but the tone is very different now. Empowered.
Wednesday June 18th was the day we were waiting for. The move to the assisted living-apartment would be complete. The two-bedroom apartment would be beautiful and ready for mom and dad's joyful reunion. But it didn't quite happen that way. Dad moved in, but it would almost be another two weeks before mom was released from skilled nursing to join him. At least dad was closer to where mom was, plus he had care available. Were we there yet? Not quite... still getting there.
Monday, June 29th became the day we were waiting for. Mom was released and she and dad shared thier beautiful new home. But the landing wasn't smooth, and mom didn't have what she needed. Every day was wrought with problems. Were we there yet? Not quite... still getting there.
They've settled in, but now need to get the old house ready to sell. Are we there yet?
I say YES!!!
We made it. Sure, much remains to be done. I say, celebrate before we tackle the next hurdle - if just for a day. I'm headed to Cincinnati to visit them in their new home and to play with them. To enjoy them. Not just to help prepare the house for sale.
It wasn't the big transformational moment we had imagined, where we would savor the rewards for all our hard work on a single day. But I am going to back Cincinnati to declare us there.
Yesterday may have been the day I've been waiting for. I've been tackling viruses and lost images and blog feed issues for months now. Yesterday, I believe we may have cleared a big hurdle. My email blog subscribers were treated (subjected?) to a feed that sent older post out as if they were new. Not what I had hoped would happen, but if this post goes out on schedule, I will breathe a sigh of relief. It will indicate to me that the fix really was a fix.
Sure, much remains to be done. We will still spend days in cleanup work, before moving into a more creative focus. But I believe we just might have the major issues solved and have a foundation to move forward from. Kind of like my parents in their new home.
His voice danced with delight. "I've got to tell you, since we got the overflow fridge, I'm realizing how inhibited I was by the lack of space. Now I feel free to get more food because now we have room for it." Bob is one of those strange birds who likes grocery shopping. Now that he doesn't have to be so concerned about crowding the fridge, he likes it even more.
Interesting...he hadn't realized how he had held himself back until he didn't have to anymore.
Well, I had to wait to get the new fridge until I had made room for it, and that meant I had to move the shelves that were in the laundry room next to the kitchen where we were going to put it, and that meant I had to clear a space in my closet, and that had to wait until I sold some suitcases on eBay and that had to wait until... you get the point.
Who knew the suitcases were depriving my dear hubby of so much shopping pleasure? Not to mention the delight I find in the newly liberated closet. Our quest to create space for grace includes one discovery after another.
This happens with communication, too. There are conversations we can't have. We find ways to have them (sometimes with turbulence, but they happen) and we discover all the other things we hadn't thought to say until we removed our old "baggage."
So the moral of the story is, the secret to changing your life is to sell your suitcases on eBay. Or something like that.
This is a follow-up to yesterday's blog post. First, every time I turn around, I discover another thing that needs fixing. Today provided another example. Yesterday's blog post went out over the feed like it should have - but included some random past posts. I don't need to tell you how involved my site has been and continues to be. The feed is showing you the kind of head-shaking things that keep happening.
Second: I know my writing is much better if I let my work rest, and later revisit and revise. So as I sat to edit yesterday's post, I heard the email notification. Lo and behold, my post arrived in my inbox. So I was just a tad too late for the feed to pick up my changes. I need to hone my system to make certain my edits make it into the feed.
Third: I decided to post a photo of the book. I had two minutes on my tomato timer and I had already sized and uploaded the pic. Well, the timer went off and the picture didn't post. It looks perfect in my window, but doesn't show up on the blog. I thought we had fixed that problem. Who knew!
Practicing a promising new workflow method isn't the same as instantly having all problems solved! One step at a time, Meryl. One step at a time. This is what the process looks like.
And if there is a picture with this post, you'll know the situation is fixed. For now anyway.
Also, there is opportunity in kerfuffles. One of my readers noted that receiving the previously read posts with the recent one served her well. Thanks, Becky!
I've centered my personal Lean2Life quest around my own experiments and discoveries. I confess: my efforts to create a solid foundation for the next phase of my life overwhelm me at times. Every time I turn around there's one other thing that isn't right, another piece of equipment that isn't functioning properly, another tool I haven't quite learned how to use.
I've been creating my own map because, like yours, my journey is unique. My main method has been to follow my nose, and add structure cautiously. Even establishing a target breakfast time seemed like a lot of structure for me. (That was a great move.) I work from the inside out. I decide on my methods from observation and direct experience, and give casual reference to how others do things.
But today, I experimented with an external structure that I think will serve me very well. I read Pomodoro Technique and tried working in 25 minute increments on very focused activities. And I'm liking it.
One of the things I discovered, is when I don't have a set focus, I feel pulled in different directions. Today, I've noticed a powerful effect from not entertaining distractions and being single focused. Yay! Although the process of creating a foundation that flows seems daunting when considered as a whole, I've gotten quite a bit done from working this way. Plus, I'm feeling wonderfully adequate and grounded - which contributes to productivity.
My timer is about to run out, so I'll wrap this post up by saying I'm liking what's happening. But then, it's common for people to get high on new organization and work-flow systems for a while, only to abandon them when the first blush wears off. I suspect this system is here to stay, with a few adaptations. But time will tell. And the timer just went off, so I will forgo adding a picture, and post.
I hope your holiday weekend is filled with discovery and delights like mine has been.
"The list keeps getting longer and you still haven't learned how to say no," Ron lamented.
Ron is one of Karen's managers. "At least he gets it that I'm overloaded," Karen told me. "Now, if only my other manager, Steve, would get it too," she added.
"You're the one who needs to get it," I told her. "It's up to you to manage your workload. You're not Steve's victim. You're his volunteer, by not setting boundaries."
Karen had hit a wall from too much to do. She actually got sick. But her 101 degree fever didn't stop her from fulfilling requests from Steve. It just postponed a few.
She likes to say yes. Many admins do. But without the ability to say no, yeses are a setup for failure and resentment.
As a recovering yes-sayer, I know. I also know that my "nos" put fences around my yeses. They protect what matters most. The ability to say no is a true success skill. If you can say it gracefully, you've really got something. The chapter in my PowerPhrases book on how to say no gives a lot of tips on how to make that happen.
I popped in to say goodbye to Bob before I headed in to town. I was dressed in white. "You look like a street sweeper", he said.
His comment didn't bother me, but I had planned to tell him how much I love, respect and admire him, and my intended words didn't seem right in that moment. I hugged him goodbye and left.
Authorities have been warning us about a possible flash flood ever since the fire last year. We've had a serious drought, so we haven't experienced that yet. However, last night we had all of a half inch of rain, and that generated a flash flood that closed the highway. Bob called to warn me not to try to make it back until it was cleared. We didn't know how long that might take.
I was delayed by three hours. When I walked in the door, Bob greeted me by telling me I looked angelic in white. He later explained that the flood made him wonder - "what if I never saw her again, and those were the last words I ever spoke to her?"
His street sweeper words weren't mean - but they weren't sweet, either. We explored why he had said what he did. I told him what I had planned to say that I didn't.
More and more, Bob and I let each other in on how our words affect each other. I like hearing that I look like an angel in white. But I love the easy way we explore our motivations, foibles, issues, clunkers, and so on. That's the freshest bread in town, and we bond when we break that bread together.