"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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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?

PowerPhrase: We have good alchemy

Lauren and I collaborate on writing projects. We share ideas at various stages of refinement. We respect each other's thinking enough that we're not embarrassed to share raw ideas. Our bad ideas form a foundation for some really good ones. 

collabnocompIn personal relationships, people talk about having good chemistry. In business relationships, I will sometimes say,

  • We have good alchemy.

Our collaborations don't involve compromise. They create something new that neither one of us could have created on our own. That's alchemy, synergy, and collaboration at its best. 

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The Answer is a Question - and Walking in Each Other's Shoes

After visiting FastCap manufacturing, a visitor emailed back with the observation that everybody presented consisely and effectively at the company-wide morning meeting. He wanted to know - what's the secret?

Paul explains that they teach and train their people to be pithy and consise. As soon as someone starts to give a ramblng response, they stop and ask someone else for their input. Another factor is that everyone leads the morning meeting at one point or another, so they all know what it's like to have the responsibility of keeping the group on track.

Watch Paul explain it here. 

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An opportunity for your relationship to mature

Sandy's new sweetheart was threatened by the fact that her work involves relating intimately with her clients - some of which are men. She actually considered eclipsing her practice for this new relationship, despite the powerphrase_icon2financial hardship it would cause her. That kind of control didn't serve her relationships in the past, and wouldn't serve her new one any better. She shifted her consideration when someone observed,

This is an opportunity for your relationship to mature.

Too often we change for someone else, and end up resenting it. Sandy was ready to stop doing that. 

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Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making

Organized Audrey says it well. "Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making."

thinking.smBecome a decision-maker. Practice by looking around your desk - your home - your closets. Chances are you'll see evidence of delayed decisions all around you. 

Then, consider your inbox. How many delayed decisions are in there? In lean terms, consider your cluttered emails as excess inventory - one of the seven wastes of lean. Then, consider the sum-total of conversations you've delayed. How much energy are they zapping?

Here's what you don't want to do. Don't delete all your emails just to get rid of the clutter. Note, you don't need to get your inbox down to zero by the end of the day. You don't need to go out and have every delayed conversation by 5 PM on Friday. Just stop delaying decisions you can make now, stop postponing conversations you can have now, and live your life with more dynamic immediacy. Then, take heart that while you may still have clutter, you're moving in the right direction. 

Clutter is the result of delayed decision-making. Organization is the result of systems and processes that make decision-making easy. But that's the subject of another post. 

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The power of "I'd love to"

When I ask my assistant Angela to do things for me, she almost always responds with the words,

  • I'd be happy to do that for you.powerphrase_icon2

Sometimes, instead she says,

  • I'd love to do that for you.

There are times when she lets me know something isn't a great fit or she doesn't have time for a particular project - which I'd much rather she do than agree to something she can't do. Still, her words always support a statement she once made,

I am 100% committed to your success.

How different that is from someone who once told me the job beat flipping burgers!

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Job security from empowering others

Dale keeps Rob's books and does other administrative work for him. Recently she mentioned to him how easily he could enter most of the information himself. She noted,

  • If you did that, you wouldn't need me.powerphrase_icon2

Rob was very impressed that this woman, who needed the work, willingly shared an idea that could cost her work. That simple observation won Rob's trust. The fact is, the more Dale empowers Rob, the more he can expand what he does, and the more ways he'll be able to use her services. 

You can be sure, when Rob needs help, Dale is the first person he thinks of. 

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The "Yes" fast Communication Kata Replay

Boundaries define us. The term "no" helps us set boundaries. If you have a problem with saying no, one practice or kata you can apply, is a "yes fast."

I talked about that yesterday in the Communication Kata webinar. You can download the slides and view the replay. You can also view the slides on SlideShare here

kataA kata is a practice or form that develops new skill. It's also a way of aligning, or synchronizing different elements. Like who you are and what you can and want to do, with what's being asked of you, as one example. 

A "yes fast" is a practice that overcomes one of the biggest barriers to effective communication - the inability to say no. I went on a yes fast many years ago when I realized I needed better boundaries. I went for six months without responding with a yes on the spot. Even if I knew for sure I wanted to say yes, in that six month period I would reply with something like,

  • Let me think about it.

Then I would come back with a yes. That practice broke the yes habit, and allowed me to say yes out of choice, not habit.

By saying no, I don't do business that way, I developed the ability to say, yes, that is how I do business.

By saying, no, I won't bend on that principle, I was able to know when it did make sense to bend.

By saying, no, I'm not willing to compromise, I learned to collaborate without compromise.

By saying, no, I'm not going to respond with a yes just because someone wants me to, I developed the skill to say yes when I wanted to. And to keep going until I and we knew just what that was.

A yes fast is one of many kata or practices to develop communication excellence. The webinar provided a framework for using the kata in a focused way. Can you use the kata without the steps that lead to their application? Let me think about it. Yes, BUT, you'll only get a partial result. Or, in other words, yes, AND, if you use them in context, you'll have a strong foundation and get better results. More importantly, you'll get the results you want, not just random experiences. 

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Luna Lovegood and the Top Ten Admin Phrases Webinar

Luna Lovegood, the dreamy Hogwarts student in the Harry Potter series, had a SpeakStrong moment that changed the course of events in the final episode of the Harry Potter series. It's a SpeakStrong moment that illustrates well that sometimes support staff needs to be outspoken with the people Lunathey support.

Harry was in search of an item with little idea of where it might be. When Luna tried to get his attention, Harry dismissed her by saying he didn't have time to listen to her. Luna replied,

  • Harry Potter, you WILL listen to me.

That got his attention. From there, she explained her thinking about who might know the best place to look for the item. Harry heeded her advice and got the clue he needed. And the rest is Hogwarts history.

Luna didn't assume to be the leader in the quest. She knew this was Harry's mission, and she also knew that she needed to SpeakStrong to get him to listen to her. Like that, people in support roles need to get their exec, manager or director's attention to consider their ideas clearly. That's best done simply, but at times needs to be done with more assertiveness. 

That was one of the points of discussion in the webinar Admin PowerPhrases. You can watch the replay and download the slides to get the rest. 

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This is what happens when we rush

I'd been trying to find a time to meet with "Darla," and emailed a possible time. My email said,

  • How about Friday at 12:30?

Darla replied, "Friday would be great. What time?"

 It didn't surprise me a bit to note that her reply came from a mobile device. They're harder to read, and people are often on the go when they use them. And that is what happens when we rush. We miss things that are right in front of us.

I learned a lot about Darla in that quick response. If I didn't understand the dynamics, I might think she's not so bright. But she holds down a very responsible job. I can't conclude she lacks intelligence, but I can conclude that I need to be aware of the fact that she can reply without understanding. I will communicate with her differently than someone who considers every word. I'll check her facts and reconfirm our agreements and take more responsibility for the effectiveness of our communication. 

It's amazing how much we can learn about someone from a six-word email. Or a short blog post - which is why I'll run spell-check on this before I hit save. 

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Please, will you adopt me too?

I just received an email requesting auction items for a fundraiser for a couple to adopt an 11-year-old boy.

powerphrase_icon2The tale they tell is that the couple was in the Philippine orphanage to adopt their daughter when the boy came up to them and said,

  • Please, will you take me home with you, too? I love America.

He was the oldest child at the orphanage and had watched numerous friends be adopted, leaving him behind. With that ability to make direct requests, I think that young man will do very well in business. 

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Let's not waste a great crisis

In the world of lean management and manufacturing, problems are considered opportunities to grow. FastCap, a company I toured, clearly has that principle engrained in the minds of their people.

powerphrase_icon2The day before my visit, the plant had a power outage. While they were able to operate normally in general, they did find some holes in their back-up systems. They discussed the issues in their company-wide employee meeting. One of the operators blurted out,

Let's not waste a great crisis.

Everyone chuckled and nodded in agreement. Crisis shows us where we're strong and where we're weak. Once the crisis passes - for FastCap that meant the power was back on - and we're not fighting fires anymore - it's time to let the crisis teach us where we have room to improve.

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SpeakStrong update

To catch you up: Perfect Phrases for Office Professionals phrase book is now available (with Susan Fenner). It’s packed with phrases anyone in a support position can use every day.


I wrote two new books over the summer that are in production now. Perfect Phrases for Icebreakers with Diane Windingland is due out in January, and Perfect Phrases for Virtual Teamwork is due to be released in March. (Now you know why I've been so quiet.)

exec-adminI’m also leading a two-day training camp for administrative professionals in Phoenix next month. I hope to see you there. There is still space available.

I created some really great programs for the continuous improvement and lean community, and am moving more deeply into how to use kata – or practices – to communicate in ways that develop problem-solving abilities. You can check out the slides for Kata Talk, the very popular session I presented in a delightful and successful collaboration with Toyota Kata author Mike Rother.


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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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