"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!!!

Effective Communication Skill Blog

Alchemist in Meryl.150Communication skills are great in theory, but how are they in practice? This Effective Communication Skill Blog shows 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?

Book Release: Icebreaker Phrase Book gets great reviews

How to start a tough conversation at work

Phrases for icebreakersWhen your new baby is born (or, in this case, your book is released) it's gratifying when others see its beauty. Sharlyn Lauby posted a very well-written review of Diane Windingland and my Perfect Phrases for Icebreakers

What I particularly liked was the objections she overcame as she read the phrases, and how she went to skeptical - "Really?! A book of phrases?! Is this necessary?!" - to supportive. Here is a passage from her review. 

"If you know someone who is looking for suggestions in the best way to start a conversation, this book could be valuable. Using my example of the manager trying to start a tough conversation, the book offers a few tips:

1. I'd like to ask your permission to raise a sensitive subject.

2. I have some things to say that I imagine will be hard to hear. I think it's important you know, and that's why I want to have this conversation.

3. I wish I had better news to share. I'll tell you straight out, answer your questions, and explore next steps with you.

Each of us has moments when we're looking for a better way to say something. This book can help."

Thanks, Sharlyn!

I resisted the idea of a book of icebreakers at first myself. But eventually I realized how important they are. If you want to talk about things that matter, what foot you get off on initially makes all the difference.

By the way, the book isn't just about starting difficult conversations. It also has ways to strike up conversatons with people you just met, how to get meeings off on the right foot, and a plethora of fun icebreaker games for groups. They're fun - and purposeful. 

It's available here (with great discounts for bulk) and at Amazon. You never know when how you start a conversation will really matter. 

Add a comment

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. 

Add a comment

NY Times article highlights the unrecognized trend toward collaborative business models

Sometimes we can miss change that happens right before our eyes. That might be what's going on in our country now, as cooperatively owned businesses are finding footholds in the US and creating a new model of how businesses can run effectively. Gar Alpervotiz wrote an inspiring article about Gar-Alpervotizthe growth of cooperative workplaces that may be paving the way toward dynamic democratization of business in America. You can read his article, Worker-Owners of America, Unite, in the New York Times online. 

He emphasizes that it might be easy to over-estimate the possibilities of a new system. However, when you see the trend toward collaborative alliances popping up in many different forms and many different places, it does seem to signal that something new and good is happening. Just as the importance of lean manufacturing is far greater than the improved bottom line from the companies that practice lean, the importance of cooperative workplaces is greater than the incidences. They show that the alternative to the kind of capitalism that has developed isn't just a socialistic model. We're seeing living examples of how business systems that collaborate without compromise are truly viable alternatives.

Change happens when: the pain gets bad enough, the vision of possibilities is inspiring enough, and the steps are clear. We're feeling the pain in the US, and both lean companies, and worker-owned companies, are showing us visions of new models. Their experience can help us see the steps to the change, with added benefit from forward thinkers like Rod Collins, author of Leadership in a Wiki World, Mike Rother, author of Toyota Kata, and Tom Wujik, champion of The Marshmallow Challlenge, who teach the iterative approach to change, learning with each step. As Alpervotiz notes, the pain of our broken system just might be bad enough that we're ready for the options. 

Add a comment

Tim Tebow is a real game changer - and I'm not talking about football

The Broncos got interesting again, thanks to quarterback Tim Tebow. He's starting a lot of conversations, and the conversation that interests me most is about how he models humble leadership. It's a breath of fresh air in a world of narcissistic celebrities to Tebowhear the voice of one who doesn't let success go to his head. It's quotes like these that are the real game changers. 

  • I know I had a lot of help. Offensive line did a great job and receivers stepped up and made me look a lot better than I really am.

The more Tebow talks, the more inspiring he is. He seems to continually say the "right" things in ways that can only happen when they're sincere.

Is this guy for real? It sure seems like it. And that pleases and encourages me. We get to see what humility looks like in someone whose star is rising. 

Add a comment

Lean PowerPhrase; What is preventing the operator from running this way?

Last newsletter featured the PowerPhrase:

  • powerphrase_icon2How do you want the process to operate?

This week I have the follow-up to that phrase.

  • What is preventing the operator from running this way?

In our offices, we might adapt the question to things like,

  • What is preventing the sales force from recording their sales the way we instruct them?
  • What is preventing my assistant from getting my project to me on time?
  • What is preventing my manager from updating his calendar when his schedule changes?

The point is, we know how we want the process to work and if it's not working that way, instead of going into blame, we go into problem-solving. This phrase assumes - as leam managers do- that people want to do good work and need support in overcoming obstacles, not criticism, when their work falls short.

Add a comment

Luann comic models creating your own job opportunities

I was in Phoenix last week, leading The Ultimate Admin, where we talked about how important it is to create your own job opportunities by seeing the needs in the workplace and filling them. The comic Luann illustrated this well. When TJ's new boss hands him a list of tasks, he responds by defining his job for himself.


Okay, if you take this too literally, it could get you fired. You might not want to start out with what you won't do. But TJ does illustrate the concept of upshifting your job by adding value. And once you're doing work that uses your very best skills, you have a strong case for moving away from the work that doesn't. 

What an awesome group of professionals we had in Phoenix! Several had done just that - seen a need and filled it, making their jobs more interesting, productive and fun. 

Add a comment

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.

Add a comment

What are you courting?

Rhonda posted an interesting article about her speed-dating experience. In ten "dates," not one man asked her about herself. She has since married a wonderful man, but he triggered her ire when she called home each day while travelling to have Courtship, proposal with flowershim tell her about his day, but never inquire about hers. On day five, Rhonda asked, "Don't you even want to hear about my day?" He noticed his omission, apologized, inquired about her day, and has been more attentive ever since. A success story? Yes... and...

In my way of thinking, if ten men and her wonderful hubby all talk about themselves and don't think to inquire about her, it might be a trait, not a flaw. If the same men were speed-networking with each other instead of speed-dating with the ladies, chances are the conversation would be balanced even if neither party invited the other to talk about themselves. To get irritated and point out the omission paints it as a flaw, and can set up a dynamic where the men in your life ask you about your day, not because they care, but because they don't want to tick you off. Personally, I'd rather have a man who rarely asks, than one who asks because he's afraid of angering me. 

Everything we do courts some kind of relationship dynamic. Getting irritated and confronting someone for not behaving the way we think they should courts rebellion or compliance. Is that what you want? CONTINUED

Add a comment

Read more: What are you courting?

Parents stuffing their kid's ballot boxes

I received a few emails from a business associate asking me to vote early and often for his son to win a prize for his entry in a contest. His email said nothing about whether or not we thought his entry merited the prize or not. 

This kind of ballot-stuffing turns competitions from the purpose of the projects to a competition between their parent's willingness and ability to mobilize support. I checked out the entry and it was very good. But I knew that if I were to vote for the entry, I'd really be voting for the father.

The plea asked for a big favor. The favor asked me to be dishonest, and while I appreciate the love and support that motivated the father, i declined. 

Add a comment

Lean PowerPhrase: How do you want the process to operate?

PowerPhrase IconIf you manage the means instead of the result, a powerful phrase for you is:
  • How do you want the process to operate?


Managing by results asks about outcome. What are you trying to accomplish? Managing by means asks about the process that acheives the outcome, and is one of the secrets of Toyota's competative edge.

You can read more about managing the process here.

Add a comment

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. 

Add a comment

Manage the Process

Wendy Mack's fall newsletter asks: which of the following tools is the most powerful for motivating employees?
  • Support for making progress
  • Recognition for good work
  • Incentives
  • Interpersonal supportwendy_mack
  • Clear goals

If you're like ninety-five percent of managers, you believe recognition for good work has the most impact on employee motivation. But Harvard University has proven that support for making progress is the greatest motivator, particularly for scientists, engineers, programmers, marketers, and other knowledge workers. Managing by objectives, which puts the focus on outcome, misses the opportunities of managing by means (Profit Beyond Measure, Thomas Johnson). Focusing on progress motivates – but requires skill and comes with a warning... continued

Add a comment

Read more: Manage the Process

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!  

Follow My Blog

I blog daily when I have a lot to say. When I don't have much to say, I stay silent. Kind of how it outta be, don't you think? Lots of great communication tips.

Subscribe Via Email:
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe in a reader

Quick Start Book Package

quick start communication transformation1

A great way to jump-start your communication skill.

Twitter icon