"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?

Listening to understand - a hubby gets a do-over

success story iconA reader wrote:

We had a win this morning. My wife was trying to understand how to buy a gift certificate and pay using a credit card, but debiting our checking account. I thought it was easy and kept trying to tell her the solution. Eventually she said “Don’t worry about it, you’re not understanding what I’m saying,” and the conversation ended.

This left her agitated and frustrated and me feeling bad and confused.

After a few minutes I went back and said “Could we try that again? This time I’ll try to listen and understand what you are saying.” We went through it again but this time I focused on making sure that she knew that I understood what she was describing and asking. At the end she said, “Is that right?” and I said, “That’s right”. Problem solved and we were both happy.

This is a pattern; my wife trying to ask something and me jumping in with the solution. This time I successfully listened and she felt understood.

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Take your communication off steroids and empower your voice in 2011

exclamation_point_iconIs your communication on steroids? Much of our communication is these days. Our language is inflated, hyped and accelerated.

We have lofty titles, embellished bios and evaluation systems that are so aggrandized that to give someone four out of five points is considered being critical.

My friend Wanda faced this issue when someone asked her to give his book a five-star review on Amazon.. She liked the premise, but found it a bit difficult to read. She would gladly give it a four star review. And to put that into context, she told me she would only give her own book three stars if she were to review it. But no - only five stars would do. 

Then there's the frenetic, give it to me yesterday aspect of our language. We have an artificial urgency that keeps us racing around at "breakneck speed" until - guess what - we break.

Let's pull the plug. Let 2011 be the year we take our communication off steroids. Let's find our true voices behind the noise. It's a communication makeover that is really about uncovering the natural empowerment that comes from sincere communication. 

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More Jokes, no digs

success_storiesFrom a reader:

All the very best to you for this festive season.

It is a few years back that I came across your "Power Phrases". With that in hand I started a journey which, so far, has included more books and courses, etc. Self-confidence, skills at handling situations, happiness, contentment, better relationships and a level of control of my life that I have not experienced previously, are the byproducts of this journey.

A daughter and her family are visiting. She was making a few digs and negative comments which I noticed. I had done something and she said, "Don't worry family, that's a Dad thing". So I considered if I would handle it, decided to do so and said, "Help me understand what just happened, were you cracking a joke or having a dig at me?" She said, "A bit of both". I replied OK, thanks I thought it was a dig and a joke. Since then there are more jokes and no digs.

I appreciate your decision to share your skills and knowledge. You have made a wonderful difference in the lives of thousands of people and made, in that way, the world a better place.

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Speak_Strong _news _Icon

It's time to make the change official. For years, the SpeakSTRONG Method has been guided by the principles of communicating clearly, kindly and directly. That has felt a bit restrictive for some time now. That's why, in  2011, the guiding principles are changing to speak: clearly, sincerely and effectively.

Clarity communicates discernment -  thoughts, facts and opinion. It gives voice to the mind. Clarity stays.

Kindness and sincerity are both communications of the heart. However, you can be kind without having your heart really in it. You can't be sincere without having your heart really in it. "Kind" is transforming into "sincere" in the SpeakSTRONG motto.

Direct and effective communication both are communications of will. Directness is a quality I and many of my readers have needed to develop.  However, sometimes a less direct approach is more effective than direct one. We need to know how and when to be direct, and how and when to be indirect. We balance both approaches to be effective - and even transformative.

Would you like to develop the ability to speak clearly, sincerely and effectively in 2011? Join us for my New Year New You webinars. They're free! How cool is that?

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Barrier #3: Communication cultural diversity blinders. (And how mine were showing)

check markExcuse me - my cultural diversity blinders were showing. 

When I wrote my holiday message, I referred to what I thought was a universal experience of this season. The days are getting longer again.

I'm surprised none of my readers from down-under caught my omission. No one noted that their days are getting longer now. Malcolm?

Cultural diversity in global business can be tricky. I had thought I was being inclusive. I later realized that there was yet another step back for me to take. Fortunately, my readers are very gracious when it comes to pointing out the limits of my thinking, speaking and writing.That's the way we all need to be when diversity blinders show. That way our over-sights can be openings in understanding cultural differences. Read about that in my article Educate. Don't Excoriate.             

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PowerPhrase: What will I still need once you've done your part?

powerphrase_icon2It's often a challenge to picture what you're getting with a product, job or service from the initial description. My friend Wendy mentioned that in one of her interviews, she asked,

  • Picture six months from now. I'm sitting in your office saying 'why didn't you tell me..." How might I complete the sentence?

I was talking about how difficult it was for me to picture what my website redesign would include. There are so many elements, and I take some for a given that others might not. In retrospect, here's a question I could have asked.

  • When you turn the site over to me, what will it still need.

That would be a great question for a builder, too!

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Holiday PowerPhrase: Let's give gifts out of choice, not obligation.

powerphrase_icon2I hear a lot of obligation mixed with the holiday celebration. My community and I are clear that we don't believe in obligational reciprocity. We give gifts and accept invitations out of choice, not obligation.  It's very freeing.

I read a blog post yesterday abut regifting. It talked about strategies to regift without risking the original giver finding out. I figure, once I give a gift, it's not mine anymore. I'm delighted if the receiver gets pleasure from passing something I gave them on.

So the PowerPhrase? 

  • It gives me joy to give this to you. There are no strings on it at all. 
  • Let's give gifts (or not) out of choice, not obligation. 

A gift with strings and obligation can become a burden, In fact, it's not really a gift at all. 

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Holiday Highlights - what makes the holidays special for you?

specialHooray! The days are getting longer again! No matter how any of us celebrate the holidays, we share that experience. Even so, we each have our own relationship to the season. For example, I just received an invitation to a potluck dinner celebrating the longest night of the year. I thought it was the shortest day! I love to ask people:

  • What makes the holidays special for you?
Eyes light up when people tell me.

So how about it? What makes the holidays special for you? What makes your eyes light up and your heart soar? What traditions add sweetness, what memories bring joy, sorrow or deepenings?

One of my friends and her husband don't give each other big gifts but leave little things stashed - like a duckie for the hot tub, hidden in the freezer. Little surprises - little love tokens. Life is good, isn't it?

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PowerPhrase: You're right

PowerPhrase IconI love using the phrase:

  • You're right

for three reasons. 1) People love to hear it. 2) It defuses conflict quickly. 3) It forces me to figure out what IS right about what they're saying.

There is almost always some important message for me, and often more than I realize at first. Discovering that is very good for communication.

I'm not saying they're right about everything. I'm not saying I'm wrong about everything. I'm just letting them know that I can see some value in their point. If I can't say you're right sincerely, then I modify it by saying,

  • You may be right.

Read my responses to communication questions below (link here and here) to see how I recommend using it. 

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question_smREADER COMMUNICATION QUESTION: Meryl, my manager and I exchanged several emails about budgets for an event. Then he asked me to research hotel prices in the area, which I did. I cc'd a contractor on the hotel information, forgetting that the budget discussion was in the email. My manager replied saying "We don't send budget information to our contractors." I fired back, "Oops. I missed that. Sorry!" He emailed back, "'Oops' is not an appropriate response."

I responded by noting that I had apologized, and that I had forgotten about the email trail, and if there was a better reply, please inform me. How else could I have replied?

MERYL RESPONDS: His response sounds scolding and parental, and the natural reaction to accusation is to get defensive. What if you started by telling him he was right instead? What could you have sincerely followed that up with? ..

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Read more: COMMUNICATION QUESTION: An "inappropriate" OOPS!


questionREADER COMMUNICATION QUESTION: Meryl, would you recommend an appropriate response for me regarding "misconstruing" a tone of voice?  After coming come from my job one evening, I asked my husband if he had a moment so I could show him something.  He'd been watching TV and I was interrupting.  He replied in a nasty tone: "What is it?"

I said in what I am sure was a neutral tone", "I don't appreciate your tone of voice.  Let's talk when you can spare a moment". He said: "Don't start with me." I said:  "I'm not starting anything.  You started being rude".

He said:  "Your the one with the problem.  You misconstrued my tone".

BUT, he immediately jumped up from the sofa and came to see what I had to show him.

As you may have guessed, our communication history does not follow your positive guidelines.  His constant retort when I assertively say, without blame, "I feel ____ when you ____" is:  "That's your problem!".

MERYL RESPONDS:  Did his tone express irritation? I don't know. But what if instead of insisting he started it by being rude, you said,

  • You're right. I did take your tone to be nasty. 

What if, when he said "don't start with me," you said,

  • You're right - I don't want us to fight.

What if, when he told you you're the one with the problem, you said,

  • You're right, and I'm asking for your support in dealing with it. Here's what I'd like... Could you do that for me?

What if you refused to get adversarial with this man whom you chose to spend your life with? If you got over any sense of needing to respond in kind when you don't like his tone, and to win - unless it's to win by being the first to get to the heart. If you did that, I think you'd bring out the best in him, and that would be a real win for you. 


Send your communication questions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Video About Speak STRONG Books

You asked and I answered. What books should you get to enhance your communication skills? I explain in a new video about the books in the SpeakSTRONG Library. Add a comment

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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