Communication 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?
Created: Monday, 29 August 2011 20:02
The quality leader W. Edwards Deming is quoted as saying, "If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." I feel the same way about phrasing. If you can't put your process, teaching or ideas into phrases, you don't know what they are. And if a phrase author reads your work and can't figure out how to translate your words into phrases, your information isn't clear.
Not everyone spends their days writing phrases, so I don't assume others have the skill developed in the way that I have - or care to. However, my efforts to translate information into phrases often reveal the fuzzy areas. If I can't hone from someone's writing how to put their recommendations into action via language, those who don't have the experience with phrasing that I do are likely to be at a total loss. That's where the conversation with some of the experts I work with gets really interesting. They may have no desire to ever write phrases, but helping me write them often clarifies what they know.
So don't just think about phrase scripting as a communication tool. Think of it as a way to get really clear about what you know.
Created: Tuesday, 19 July 2011 02:36
"The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing,
and therefore should be treated with great caution."
SpeakingSTRONG requires skill and deliberate choices. There is a fine art to truthing. Brutal honesty is a cop-out. Elegant honesty enhances the beauty and reduces the terribleness of truth.
Created: Tuesday, 19 July 2011 17:02
Does that person whose communication drives you crazy have poor communication skills, or character flaws? The best phrases in the world won't help people who use power plays or manipulation to build collaborative communication. Yes, they'll win a few battles, but at what price? Even those who give in know on some level they've been played.
I'm not just talking about the bullies here. I'm talking about the victims, too. The ones who act powerless to get what they want. It doesn't feel any better to recognize that you can't have an authentic conversation because the person on the other end collapsed into helplessness than to recognize that you can't have an authentic conversation because the person on the other end rallied into power plays.
If you're having trouble getting to clarity for either reason, ask - is it a communication issue? Or a character issue?
You don't need to put them on the couch and analyze them. Don't play therapist or clergy. Just examine your own character and decide that you won't let manipulation and power plays determine outcome. Reaffirm your commitment to authentic communication and keep refocusing the conversation to the essence. Show that your commitment to being fact-based and truthful is stronger than theirs to manipulate. Some will go away - but others will show up. A phrase I like because it's genuine and powerful is,
- I'm having this conversation because I want to be able to relate to you on an authentic level. It would be easier for me to ignore it when your words don't ring true - but that would keep us on the surface. I'm not willing to do that.
Created: Tuesday, 19 July 2011 02:04
When Nancy did not show up on time for the meeting, her associates started without her, even though Nancy was supposed to present. Nancy arrived fifteen minutes late and listened as someone else explained the plan that Nancy had been scheduled to present.
After the meeting, one of Nancy's team members asked why she was so late. Nancy's reason was more of a lame excuse, so the team member explained,
- Some of the busiest people here made time to be available at the time you agreed to. By coming late you made a statement that you don't value their time. That's not a message you want to send.
Later in the conversation Nancy asked a few questions explaining that she wanted to be sure not to disappoint again. Clearly the message was received.
Created: Wednesday, 13 July 2011 18:05
"Losing the rule of law is too great to call it a mere excess.
It is a catastrophe.
It is the heart, mind and soul between the people and their government."
~ Tom Ball
The same is true for losing the commitment to truth. I'm sometimes shocked at people's willingness to overlook obvious distortions and manipulations. I'm not just talking about governance here.
Created: Wednesday, 13 July 2011 18:02
"You can avoid reality,
but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."
~ Ayn Rand
There's a saying that any group or unit is as healthy as the things it can talk about. Don't wait until the post mortem to talk about problems.
Created: Saturday, 18 June 2011 20:48
Emotions can be an important part of a conversation and can add power to communication. They also can be a distraction. Recently a team member dropped the ball again. This had happened several times. I understood the demands on her time, and I also needed to know what I could count on. So when her main message was:
- "I feel awful about this."
it didn't give me what I needed to hear. I didn't want her to feel bad. I wanted to know she would come through for me so I wouldn't be left doing what she had committed to.
I'm a fan of psychology and emotional intelligence and knowing what we feel. In it's place. We are emotional beings. If we exclude emotions from our business conversations and pretend they don't exist, we can miss an important communication element.
But when you try to convince someone they should keep you on the team after you've dropped the ball several times, it's good to acknowledge your chagrin and essential to provide concrete reasons to let the other person know they can count on you in the future, even when they couldn't in the past.
I would have loved to have been able to keep this lady on the team, but I needed someone I could count on. We faced the facts and parted amicably. I was sad about the decision myself - but also happy because I knew she didn't have time and we made the right decision. It took some genuine emotional intelligence to look at the facts and move on.
Created: Friday, 17 June 2011 13:44
I have a lot of experience writing phrases and phrase books. But that doesn't mean people who haven't written phrase books can't help me. However, in coauthoring, one challenge has been getting people to put their own wisdom and experience into their contributions instead of unquestioningly following my lead .
That's why when Diane used these words to preface her input on a phrase book she's helping me with, I was very heartened. She said,
- I reviewed it as if it were my own. So some of my comments may be intrusive.
Her preface reflects a perfect blend of ownership and respect for the fact that it is my project. She was willing to think beyond what I had already written without negating what I had. Her comments were very useful.
Kudos to Diane and to Sharon whose input also reflects a great blend of my ideas and her own. It's key to great collaboration.
Created: Friday, 17 June 2011 01:56
My friend and coauthor Susan Fenner sent me an email with the subject line "You're amazing!"
We exchanged many emails after that, and each time she replied, I received yet another email with the subject line "Re: You're amazing!" It was quite a pleasant experience.
Then it occured to me that Susan was receiving emails with the same subject line. It seems I had discovered another application of "You reap what you sow." What goes around comes around. In this case, it's a good thing.
I'm more conscious of subject lines now.
Created: Friday, 17 June 2011 01:43
It's common wisdom that you don't use email for touchy conversations, isn't it?
I've been rethinking that one. Every situation is different, but more recently I've decided if I have something to tell an associate that might be difficult to hear, email is actually a good way to communicate - IF - I make it clear I plan to follow-up verbally and invite them to call if they prefer.
Too often people use email to hit-and-run. They chose it to avoid dealing with someone's reaction and to have the last word.
But I think email explanations with an invitation to talk about a situation actually allows the other person the time to collect themselves and respond gracefully and thoughtfully. It can give them the chance to consider alternatives and even uncover possible flaws in my logic.
I've used it this way recently, and it worked the way I intended. Both times the recipient thanked me for my thoughtful email and was ready to have an open conversation about the situation I raised. Both times they actually agreed and were glad to have the opportunity to respond by saying basically the same thing from their perspective.
So don't rule out email for INITIATING touchy conversations. But don't hide behind it either.