"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?

The Trap of Models like the Drama Triangle

Spider web 400A Community Member (CM) told me about a situation where she had been blindsided and lost a contract without any previous clues, discussion or signals. I mentioned that the client obviously had not communicated well. CM replied that contract workers don't get to point fingers. CM is wise indeed to take responsibility for the breakdown. 

That said, it's also important to notice when someone else doesn't communicate clearly and in earnest. It's part of seeing the reality of any situation. We learn from everything, and one possible lesson in this experience is that things are not always as they appear on the surface. The next step is to explore ways to apply that learning.


Yesterday, I posted about the villain/victim/hero Drama Triangle. I got to experience that dynamic first hand, both from my own slippage and from communication that was heavily laden with villain and victim language. Identifying those triggers helped me separate myself from the dynamic.

There is a trap in the Drama Triangle model as there is in applying any model. What's that?

Models take you into your mind. They are discernment tools, and the shadow side of discernment is judgment. Also, labels create a focus that can obscure seeing things that aren't a part of that label. The person might be reduced to a label.

I am in the midst of a communication challenge with a Service Provider (SP) I prepaid for services. Like a marriage, where there is too much invested to dismiss the other when they trigger us, the prepayment of services is something of a blessing in that not having an easy out inspires us to go more deeply into the issues.

By seeing where SP gets heavy-handed, (invokes the Villain Archetype) and where SP plays helpless (invokes the Victim Archetype), I understand the situation better and can stay conscious of where I might react to those dynamics. I just need to avoid using the model to objectify someone I am in relationship with. Analysis and discernment are a part of the process, but not a center to communicate in difficult conversations. 

I balance the clarity from analysis with grace of prayer, visualization and affirmation. I needed to wait to respond until my head was supporting my heart, not running the show. Sp is human, and I need to be centered in my own humanity before taking the next step. 

Prayer, visioning, affirmations - there are many ways to balance critical thinking for effective communication. You know what takes the edge off cold analysis for you. Go there before you open your mouth. 

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Beyond the Drama Triangle

villain.victim.heroBetty uses wonderful imagery when she gets emotionally triggered. She pictures herself as being on a journey to a mountain top, and having fallen into a hole for a while. 

I love that image. I added that most of us see this kind of slippage as deviation from the path, and we want to get out of the hole as quickly as possible. It's no fun to feel like a victim. We want the direct path to empowerment. However, slippage is a part of the direct path - even for advanced practitioners. The SpeakStrong Method (and book***) provide tools to learn and benefit from every experience, even ones where we regress into a five-year old. 


I had my own slippage yesterday. I am having a communication challenge with a service provider whom I prepaid. I told my friend that the situation was "nibbling on me."

I let myself be in my "nibbled on" (aka victim) hole. I looked around and learned from it... but I didn't stay there. After deep reflection and processing, the situation stopped nibbling on me. I started to nibble on it

What's the difference? While I am vulnerable to the machinations of the long-suffering and the hoops and deflections of the perpetrators, in my center, I refuse to be a player in anyone's drama triangle. I stand as an observer of it. I still explore every power play and poor-me message the dramatist send: without feeling subservient to any of them. Specifically, I do not allow her victim declaration to polarize me into the role or into the self-characterization of persecutor, nor do I feel the need to be the hero to caretake for a woman I paid to care for me and my needs. I can honor the success that keeps her so busy and I can empathize with her life struggles that make it difficult to honor all her commitments... and I still expect to be treated as a valued client. 

And, oh, my, my, is she ever giving me juicy illustrations of the villain/victim/hero triangle. This isn't my first choice of a good time. It is quite a learning opportunity to practice staying in my center, and being clear, kind and direct. In other words, to practice Speaking Strong. 

***The offer of a SpeakStrong or PowerPhrases book at no cost with any order ends tonight. See yesterday's post. 

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Today and Tomorrow: SpeakStrong or PowerPhrases for F R E E with ANY Book Order

My shopping cart and email service are up for renewal so it was decision time. I hadn't sent out a newsletter in over two years, and my orders weren't covering my costs. I hesitated to close it out because I kept thinking I'd be shifting focus back to my business any day now, and I'd want the resource. 

I weighed the options and possibilities and decided to close my bookstore and newsletter down. I have 8,000 newsletter subscribers, and only about 400 blog subscribers, so I composed a parting email to my newsletter list, encouraging them to subscribe to my blog.

As I ran my test emails, I remembered that one of the reasons I had waited to close things down was because I wanted to make some special offers before I give up the store. I hadn't run any specials or even emailed a hello because my attention was consumed by my health and Lean2Life clearing, and filling orders seemed like a distraction. Yesterday I decided I was ready.

I got a flood of orders and some wonderful notes of appreciation from old SpeakStrong friends who hadn't found the blog yet.

So here's the offer. My cart will close on Friday the 14th. Today and tomorrow, as long as my store is up, I am giving away a free copy of SpeakStrong or PowerPhrases for ANY book order.

Go to my bookstore and place an order for any book that suits your fancy. Then, scroll down to the comments/special instructions and tell me which book you prefer.


Then, picture me going into the shed where I keep my inventory in the 5 degree weather we are enjoying today. ;-) 

Happy to do it! This really is a great offer. 

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When We Serve Systems that Were Meant to Serve Us

The Calculus of Clothing 550


I loved all the comments I received on yesterday's post. I want to mention one in particular. Carolyn wrote about how she feels free from having to take care of so many clothes.

My comment to her was: 

"Carolyn, I love the reference to being free from having to take care of so many clothes. I totally get that - even though on one level it doesn't make sense in that it's not like kids who need to be fed everyday whether you engage with them or not. For me, the clothes stopped serving me and I found myself serving them. That's changing."

Somewhere in between Jeremy and his girlfriend Sara in the above cartoon is the perfect balance where clothes serve us instead of us serving them. That balance is different for each of us. 

And just like everything in life, a functional closet does require care and maintenance. It becomes dysfunctional when we find ourselves serving it at the expense of balance. 

Clothes are a tool. So are planning systems, appliances, food, jobs... you name it. When you stop dressing for life and start living to dress, when you stop working to live, and start living to work, when you stop eating to live and start living to eat, you've got an addiction going on. 

It's possible to abstain completely from alcohol and recreational drugs. There are other forms of "substance abuse" that we need in life - in balance. That takes attentiveness.

The phrase: 

  • Does this still serve me, or am I serving it?

Can help restore balance. 

It's a freeing phrase. 

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The Eyes of Grace Leave Room for Good Grief

consignmentclothingI took about 60 clothing items to Kristin at my local consignment store yesterday. I was stunned and pleased when she took everything I offered her. In an instant, I was much closer to my goal of having a manageable wardrobe, which is part of my Lean2Life goal of having a manageable life. It felt like an act of grace.

I got what I wanted. My closet has "Space for Grace." It flows, and it is a delight to use now. So why would I get sad? 

Even when we get what we want, it's natural to grieve what we don't have anymore. I had each clothing item for a reason, and I had a relationship with each one. It's legitimate to feel some pinch at giving up anything, even if you decided it doesn't work for you anymore. Conscious grieving is not a problem.

What is a problem is when you think you shouldn't be sad, and you block your need to grieve a bit. Repressed, or unconscious emotions are the ones that get you. 

I felt the grace of Kristin's taking everything, along side my healthy "Good Grief" about parting with my clothing "friends." 

I got what I wanted, yet I needed to grieve a little. Grieving is also natural when we don't get what we want - even if we see the perfection of the situation through the Eyes of Grace. Say you didn't get the job you wanted (or you did get it, but it didn't pan out as you had hoped.) Or you got outbid on your dream house right before your offer was to be accepted. Most of my community members handle those disappointments well. They see life through the Eyes of Grace and embrace the opportunity for something better to show up. 

But it's still okay to grieve. In fact, Good Grief can clear the way to moving on. Sometimes positive people struggle and think there is something wrong with them if they feel sad for a bit. There's not.

In related news, my shopping cart is up for renewal this week. I'm not getting the orders I used to and I decided to close my bookstore down. It's the end of an era. I'm okay with letting go of that part of my life. I'm embracing this new reality; but I still run into pockets of sadness. I see this transition through the Eyes if Grace, and that grace leaves room for some very Good Grief. 


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A PowerPhrase to Set Boundaries for Business Friendships

PowerPhrase 300It's tricky to mix business and pleasure - but it can be done. Joe developed a friendship with his clients Carl and Deb and was delighted when they called to sing "Happy Birthday."

It did take a little away when they followed the song by asking for some free advice.

Joe felt the genuineness in the birthday greeting and didn't mind too much, but he decided to set a boundary. He's going to their home Sunday to watch football, and intends to notify them:

  • If you have any clinical questions for me, please ask them now, because once the game starts, Joe the Clinician is leaving the building so Joe the Guy can enjoy the game.

Good call, don't you think?


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Shifting a Negative Dynamic at a Paint Counter

Stained-Deck300"Maybe next time I stop by, you won't be painting the deck," Donna joked. 

"Don't count on it," I replied. Deck staining has been quite the drama. I might post the whole tale sometime. It had gone on so long that it seemed endless to me. That said, with cold weather coming in, I anticipated that I would only have through the weekend to call it complete, whether it actually was complete or not. 

I was out of paint. I ran to the store to get some more so I could continue to work in the glorious weather. I was behind a woman who agonized over the color of her paint. Her husband teased and joked about her inability to decide. His words had some levity to them, yet to my ear, they were on the edge of belittling. He used words like "anal retentive" and "crazy." I looked for an opening to shift the dynamic, and found one.

I forget what he said that I responded to, but whatever it was, I put my hands on my hips in mock affront and said, "I resemble that remark, even though it wasn't directed at me. Be nice, will you?" 

Everyone laughed, including the woman in distress. I continued.

"Every night I find myself in despair over my painting ordeal. Then I wake up the next morning ready to try again." 

"So she's not the only one?" the husband asked. 

I turned to the woman at the counter and said, "Alice, what do you think. Is she the only one who stresses over paint?"

"I could tell you some stories!" Alice exclaimed. The tone changed completely.

When we parted ways, I said, "I wish you luck! Wish me luck, too!" Alice and all the customers sent me off with a plethora of well-wishes.

Not that the well wishes helped. When I got home, I discovered that Alice had given me oil stain, and I'm using latex. By the time I exchanged it, the glorious sunshine would be gone and the deck would be too cold to work on. 

So I made myself a cup of chicory tea and curled up with my book. I would get paint after dinner. Then, I would wake up the next morning ready to hit the deck again.

And I did. It's complete now, and it's gorgeous. Good thing - a cold front came in this morning, as predicted. 

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Codependents Don't Have Relationships, They...

ball and chain 300There's a saying in the twelve steps programs: "Codependents don't have relationships, they take hostages." 

When someone I care about acts like a victim or a hostage when they can simply say no to a controlling dynamic or walk out the door, it makes me a little crazy. When they talk as if they need permission to be themselves, take care of themselves and so on, I want to shake them awake into positive action.  I want to scream - "It's YOUR life, not theirs!"

That's when I remember the other saying from the 12 steps program: "Codependents don't have relationships, they have caseloads." I check my rescuer impulse. 

There are times to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. I do that. Then I let people use my observations as they choose. After all, when I want to scream, "It's your life, not theirs," I need to remember... It's their life, not mine. 

Of course there are times to intervene, and there are times when helping isn't codependent. That said, don't let yourself be taken hostage by trying to change someone who just isn't ready to set themselves free, and find a controlling other to be a convenient excuse. Also, don't turn your friendships into caseloads. There are professionals for that. 

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What Are We Going to Do When We Hit the Land Mines?

You prepare for the bad times in the good times. That means when you're making good money, you save some for when you aren't. Among a lot of other things.

In SpeakStrong terms, it means you talk about how you're going to handle land mines before you hit them. Not IF you hit land mines, but WHEN. Any relationship that is dynamic and alive will hit land mines. Will you overlook them? Will you ignore them? Will you put on a happy face? Or do you agree that at times, the best way out is through? What might that look like? 

If someone refuses to have that discussion upfront, you might reconsider letting them deeply into your life. When things are smooth, it's hard to imagine they won't always be. When they aren't, it helps to know that you have agreements that you are all in - that you won't play games, retaliate, go silent, etc. and that you will... what?... you tell me.

How do YOU handle it when you hit the land mines in the relationships that matter?

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Confronting the Witch with... Witch Hazel

Witch-Hazel 200I recently attended a meeting where everyone was required to use pencils because someone in the group is allergic to a chemical that pens emit. That woman is able to come to these meetings because the group is sensitive to her sensitivities.

Yesterday was a different experience. At the end of my Pilates session, the instructor handed me a wipe. She explained that no one wanted to exercise in other people's germs, and she wanted me to wipe down the equipment I had used. I took the wipe reflexively, commenting that I am more concerned about chemicals than germs. The trainer laughed and told me about a student who held the wipe up with disdain, displaying her acrylic nails. The trainer wasn't having it. 

We need to be sensitive to others' sensitivities. My reactions are more food-based than chemical, and I don't think the congestion I woke up with this morning was from handling Lysol. But some people suffer greatly from just a little chemical contact. 

No, handling a chemical wipe doesn't send me to bed for a week, but I still don't like it. So how do I handle the trainer's policy and insensitivty with... sensitivity?

I shared the tale with Bob. He replied, "That's why I use witch hazel. Most of my clients are fine with commercial antiseptics, but for the few that aren't, the witch hazel works well."

I was delighted. I use witch hazel on my face as an astringent. I will show up to my next session with a tub of witch hazel wipes. No need to get teachy-preachy. Instead of going confrontational into the problem, I will show up with my own solution.

I will leave the tub with her for my future use, and as a gift for others who share my concerns about chemicals. 

Thanks, Bob! 

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Honesty and Purity of Heart

Pure Heart 300When "Abby's" interview ended badly and she declined my offer because I had made her uncomfortable, I wanted to speak with the gal who had referred her right away. Why? Well, I am human and I was feeling a bit wounded. However, I can honestly say that my major motivation was that I wanted her to be able to communicate some positive things about my impressions of Abby when they spoke. Our conversation was in no way an "Abby-bashing" session. It included quite a bit of sincere praise. I hoped some appreciation would slip in to her conversation with Abby. 

While I don't claim to do any of it perfectly, when I search my heart I can say that I honestly have good intentions most of the time. The people in my inner circle trust that. I trust that in them. Yes, we collide at times, fumble in confusion and wound each other in some way or another. That basic trust is what makes it so doable. Without trust, everything needs explanation. Without trust, Speaking Strong becomes a tedious chore that doesn't make great relationships possible; it makes them impossible until the trust is built. 

Honesty simplifies life. Purity of heart is what makes honesty workable. One of my friends often affirms this. When I or we struggle she will say, "I know your heart." I don't claim to have attained complete purity and I don't suggest that my inner circle has perfected it either. But we have enough purity that we can share the secrets of our souls with a sense of ease.

That is precious. I am grateful to everyone who honors me with that kind of trust. I am grateful to those who don't slam the door because they discover I'm human too and/or I triggered them somehow. 

Some people say life is short, but I say life is long. I am also grateful to those who have slammed the door and then walked back through it for a do-over - a do-over that resulted in us being in each other's inner circles. Perhaps some day, Abby and I will find our ways into each other's inner circles, too.

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That Girl Can Talk, But Can She Listen?

I've had a lot of conversations in the past months with people about their tendency to dominate conversations.  Most have gone well - but the latest one didn't quite work out as I had hoped.

I get frustrated when people finish my sentences for me, interrupt and/or talk over me, often assuming they know what I am trying to say. (Trying is the operative word here since they don't let me finish.) Addressing it hasn't always been easy or fun, but, to the credit of the would-be-dominators, I am now able to enjoy the company of several people instead of being frustrated in their company or distancing myself. Occasionally I hear of someone else who experiences the dynamic that I have worked through with them.

Saturday was a different story.

"Abby" was interested and excited about doing work for me. She had everything I needed - the skills, the enthusiasm, the interest. Except there was one problem. When we spoke on the phone, she interrupted me several times, took the conversation in directions and details that didn't serve the point, and basically dominated the conversation.

There was no space for grace.

There were several things I intended to say that I didn't because Abby was doing a lot more talking than listening. I considered saying something about it on the phone, but decided to wait until we met. 

When I got off the phone, I told my husband, "I will not have one more tangential person in my life." If it was going to work, Abby and I needed to find a better communication balance.

I mentioned the issue to the gal who referred Abby. Yes, she noted, sometimes when Abby called she would put the phone down and do other things and Abby didn't notice. In fact, she had just done that for an hour.

That wasn't going to work for me.

So I told Abby that we needed to work that out if we were going to be able to work together. Abby launched into a long and detailed explanation of what had happened the day we spoke that made her nervous and chatty. I felt that sinking feeling I get when I sense I'm being led down a rabbit hole. I told Abby those were the kind of details that I found distracting and off point. Abby seemed to understand, and after that, she only interrupted me once. Abby left all smiles and reportedly eager to start. 

Two hours later I discovered a message on my answering machine. Abby wasn't going to be able to work for me after all. She was very reluctant to speak with me when I returned her call. She said I put out "uncomfortable energy" and she needed to be herself at work. 

On reflection, I can think of ways I could have said it better. That's always true.

Am I disappointed? Yes - and I'm also relieved. If someone being herself means talking and not listening, this isn't the place for her. I'm sure she has people who love her. I also know pretending to listen like the woman who referred Abby just doesn't work for me. Abby had everything I was looking for on a skill level. Just not on a communication level. 

Man, that girl can talk. But I discovered she isn't willing to listen. 

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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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