"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?

Ron Johnson's Rousing Speech About the Killing of Michael Brown

Have you heard Captain Ron Johnson's powerful speech to the Ferguson Missouri community? I've been concerned about the militarization of our police force for a long time. It really hit me with Katrina when people who were seeking help in crisis were treated as criminals and suppressed with weapons of war.

There was darkness and overreach in Ferguson. There is also great beauty there. Captain Ron Johnson humbly gives voice to that beauty - and draws out the gorgeous humanity of the citizens there.

Watch it here.


The simple truth is incredibly powerful. Personal expression moves mountains. We are human - so human - and embracing that humanity is what will get us through our challenges intact. 

What moved me the most was Johnson's affirmation that the tragedy of Michael Brown's death would transform them all and make them better people. I know the biggest tragedies in my life have been my greatest teachers. It's an incredible gift to be reminded of that while you are walking through your fire instead of figuring it out years later. 

Watch the video - he is a master of Speaking Strong.


Ouch!!! Yikes!!! I read this morning's headline.

Ron Johnson DOES have his work cut out for him. At least I trust the wisdom of his captainship.


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True to What You Do

Tea Pot 200







Tony put down the sheet of paper he was holding and leaned in toward his client. He said:

  • I don't know why you come to me. You know I treat the root cause of illness, and that means you probably will feel worse before you feel better while I take you through the die-off process. Yet, every time you start to feel bad you do something that stops the process. You say you want to learn from me, but you seem too intent on proving how much you know to listen. You don't ask questions, you argue. You finish my sentences for me, and most of the time, your completion isn't where I was going with my point. Yet, you tell me I'm helping you and you want to work with me. It seems to me that what you really want is a practitioner who will relieve all your symptoms and let you get on with your life without dealing with the root cause. It's like the restaurant owners who get on Kitchen Nightmares because their businesses are failing, but try to teach Chef Ramsey how to run a restaurant.

Let that settle in for a minute.

There is a Japanese tale that illustrates the frustration of trying to work with someone who isn't open to receive. It goes like this:

"The Japanese master Nan-in gave audience to a professor of philosophy. Serving tea, Nan-in filled his visitor's cup, and kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer: 'Stop! The cup is over full, no more will go in.'
Nan-in said: 'Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.'"

Sometimes when Tony confronts clients like this, it results in a conversation that gets them on the same page. Other times the client talks like he or she is ready to get on board and changes just enough to stay a client, much like the employee who only does good work before the performance review. There are times when the client argues that they really are on board and Tony needs to pull the plug unilaterally.

Then there are times when Tony and his clients jointly decide they aren't a match. They dissolve the working relationship.

Do you have anyone in your world who says they want what you do? Someone who says they agree to your terms, but in practice they are redefining the relationship on their own terms?

Maybe it's time to have a conversation like Tony does. For Tony, it's the difference between loving his work and hating it. What difference might it make for you?


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Only Human

Rose was in the middle of watching the second season of The Good Wife. Now, resting on her bed, something struck her. The hero of the show, Alicia Florrick, was going through heart-wrenching devastation, but they never showed her cry. She was admirable, strong, succinct, tough - but she never collapsed into an emotional release. 

Rose remembered a movie she had seen years before where the hero, a television anchor, collapsed on her bed and cried every time she found herself alone. Then she pulled herself back together and focused.

Rose could keep it together if she needed to. But now she let down. She had felt blocked and lethargic. Now she sensed emotion and invited it to talk to her. It spoke, not in words, but in wails. She let it fly.

Her husband Tony heard her and came in to rub Rose's feet as her emotions erupted. When did he stop feeling threatened by the power of her releases? Rose adored him for that. 

The tide turned, the storm subsided and Rose felt whole. She turned on Pandora radio: Christine Perri's song Human came on. Unlike Alicia, but like Christine, Rose could be a good machine, but let herself be human.

These are the lyrics. 


I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
If that's what you want
Be your number one

I can fake a smile
I can force a laugh
I can dance and play the part
If that's what you ask
Give you all I am

I can do it
I can do it
I can do it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

I can turn it on
Be a good machine
I can hold the weight of worlds
If that's what you need
Be your everything

I can do it
I can do it
I'll get through it

But I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

I'm only human
I'm only human
Just a little human

I can take so much
'Til I've had enough

'Cause I'm only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I'm only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
'Cause I'm only human

And the video: (Al - no vampires on this one.)


Maybe, by the time Rose got to season five of The Good Wife, Alicia would break down and have a good cry. If so, would Peter (or Will) be able to rub her feet and be there with her when she did? In the meantime, Rose would live her humanity now. 

You're invited to this party. Speaking Strong and authenticity isn't just about being tough all the time. It's also about honoring your right to be human. Rose's emotional alchemy moved by it's own path, not a linear one, but this is a good tool should you want one. Emotional Alchemy Through the "Love Letter"


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Yes, But Does He Whistle?

Whistle 400When I like what a teacher teaches, I yearn to see how the teacher walks. I learn more from experiencing how someone lives than from hearing them talk about life principles. Some people talk a great, line but don't walk the talk.

That's why many of my best teachers aren't officially teachers at all. Like Fred, our mail carrier. As he drives from mailbox to mailbox, I hear him whistle.

No intense driving rock and roll blasting from his radio. Just a whistle.

When people recommend teachers to me, I want to know - does he (she) whistle? 


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Addicted to Teaching

teach listen group 400"You should teach what you're learning with your sabbatical to others," my friend told me.

My friend is a respected leader. She teaches all the time. It's a habit for her. I replied: 

  • I might end up doing that, but for now, I'm doing this for me. I am very careful about keeping the process pure. If I make it what I'm doing for others, it could taint the discovery process for me. I need to see my own world through my own eyes and drop my habit of turning everything into a teaching point.

It's tough for me to explain how transformational backing away from the teacherly role has been. And how seductive the desire to teach can be.

It's tough for me to not get caught in wanting to teach my friend what a difference it makes to break the habit of always being the teacher. 

I shared my observations and sat back and let her teach me. I'm learning a lot these days.



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Silence Can Say More Than a Thousand

A reader sent me this graphic:



I love it.

I have a new friend like that. When we hike, sometimes we speak and sometimes we are silent. But we are always communicating. 

These friends are a blessing.

People who require explanations are a blessing, too. They force us to get clear. They force us to be specific. There are times when I think my copy editor might understand me too well, because she knows what I mean without a lot of explanation. I can jump from A to D and she's right there with me. At times, that keeps us from recognizing that some of my readers need me to take them from A to B to C to D. It can be frustrating when I think my point is crystal clear and my reader doesn't get it - but it is clarifying, too. 

My husband is a linear thinker and asks to be walked through many of my Quantum Leaps. That's changing, though. He's making leaps of his own. I'm loving that, but will need to keep plenty of linear thinkers in my orbit for... not a reality check... but a linear reality check. 

The last Chapter in my PowerPhrases book says, "The purpose of words is to create silence."

The easy silence of everything that needed to be said having been said. The easy silence of communication without words. 


I just glanced at my answering machine and saw my new friend left a message. She just called to say, "Thank you for sharing your big heart." No other purpose. She was specific about what I had done that touched her. Her specifics augment her appreciation. Her few words augment our sweet silence. She and the reader who sent the graphic altered the trajectory of my day. 


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I Have No Idea What I Mean - Do You?

Recorder Digital NB"Email Kris about accounting."

What the heck does that mean? 

I'm referring to a memo from me to me on my digital recorder. Kris is my sister, and we have no accounting questions. 

Oh, wait. I have another Kris in my life. She does a thing called Stretch Therapy and I had asked her to send me an accounting of how many sessions we have had and how many remain. That was a week ago, and she hasn't sent it, so I want to remind her. THAT'S what my memo is talking about. 


Okay, if I have to struggle to figure out my OWN messages, what is it like for others to get a clue what the heck I'm referring to? 

It's good practice for me to leave memos to myself that I don't have to decipher. It's a start, anyway. Obviously, it's a bigger challenge for someone else who never knew what I intended when I left the memo. 


As an aside, soften your focus and look at the image on the left. Doesn't it look like a face - kind of a perplexed emoticon? The message at the top is the brain, the buttons below are eyes, the circle is a nose and the bottom buttons make a mouth. 

Did I explain that image clearly? Do you see it?


Now I'd better email Kris about accounting - or re-record my memo to self with more details. 



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The Power of Pull Beats the Pressure of Push

Inbox Update

Pull beats push any time. Attraction beats coercion. I'm experiencing that at continuously deeper levels as my Lean2Life Reorganizational Journey continues.

One of the best Lean moves I have made was setting Outlook to send emails to spam until I whitelist them. I check spam regularly, and set up rules for my subscriptions and newsletters to go to my "subscriptions" folder. I clear the rest of my non-spam to go to my Inbox.

How's that working for me? GREAT!!! Better than I imagined! Why did I wait so long to do this?! It is so much easier to move a few non-spams from my junk folder than to delete all the spam I was getting from my inbox. 

The Lean reason this works so well is that my inbox now only has what I have pulled into it. The emails that have been pushed on to me are in a separate folder for my review when I choose to look.  

I started this process with an empty inbox and only invite what I want in there. I am the master of my inbox now, not the other way around. 

Starting with Empty

My friend Wendy emptied out her bedroom for painting. She had a great time resetting her room from scratch - starting with an empty room. 

The Liberty of Having the House to Myself

So this weekend, I had the liberty of having the house to myself. That meant I could be as loud, messy, goofy - you name it - as I wanted. I stayed home and dedicated the weekend to sorting myself and a main closet.

I started the closet sorting item by item. I got a little traction, but quickly realized I needed to take everything out. When I made the decision to sort that way, I felt my energy and enthusiasm increase, despite the fact that it was a very big job.

Within an hour, half the house looked like a bomb had exploded - but the target closet was bare.

I did make one trip to the store to buy modular storage drawers. Enroute, I wondered if what I really needed was another closet rod for a new level of hanging items. Bob had often suggested that I could have one installed if I wanted, but I was concerned about investing in something I might not like.

An Experiment

As I drove to the store, I noticed the clothes bar in the back of the car and wondered if I could experiment with that. I hung it from the upper rod with twine. I hung a few things on it. Then I hung a few more. I liked it. A lot. As I got deeper into the process, I expanded the clothes bar. Later, I expanded it a little more. I found what seems to be the perfect width. 

The modular storage containers went back to the store, but the trip wasn't a waste. I found what I needed in my own backseat. 

Would I have added the bar if I hadn't made the trip? I don't know.

I do know that the power of pull beats the pressure of push any day. 

Bob and I both know that the more free we feel from external push, the more pull we find - and the less patience we have with push in our lives. It's a liberating thing - and it works. 

PS - You know the divider line I have at the bottom of my posts? That's in my images. I have to open three folders to get to it. Just now, I put a copy of it in the folder my web content manager opens to. A quick improvement to save myself a few steps. That's Lean!


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Being Alone: All One

Alone island treeHubby is travelling this weekend and I am alone.

The word alone actually means All One.

I am savoring my Aloneness, my Wholeness, my Oneness.


Hubby is with colleagues. His people. A community that catalyzes wholeness in each other. A community that he is at-one with.

At-one: AtOnement brings into unity, harmony and concord.

He is savoring his community, his comradeship, his connectedness.


I wish you the perfect weekend for renewing your body, mind, soul and spirit.

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Waldo Has a Plot Twist


"Plot twist. Waldo finds himself."

Few people do.

Have you ever tried to "find" someone who hasn't found themselves? It's like playing "Where's Waldo."

My childhood best friend found herself. Five strokes and years in assisted-living did that for her. Her life required her to be still. The experience made her wise. Probably one of the wisest and most contented people I know.

My life required me to become still in a different way. Keeping my focus mainly on excellence in concrete, daily, normal living has been, and is, transformational. 

I'm told I'm pretty easy to "find" these days. Not a lot of searching, guessing, interpreting, wondering required to find me. Little need to track me through distractions, diversions, excessive complexity and incomprehensible tangents. I don't hint when I need to be direct anymore. It's all right there. I'm right there. Or it's getting there, anyway. I'm still in the process.

That's my plot twist. What's yours?


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Two Paths to Peace: A Playful Exchange With a Reader

My reader passed this on with the following message:

Hi Meryl!

When I started reading this, I thought of you, but then things went south… Well, I’ll share it w/ you anyway, cuz it’s kind of funny! ;)

Diane Finish

My reply was: 

Two paths to Inner Peace:

1. Finish what you start.

 2. Use humor.

I don't care for the booze, but I'm often up for getting "drunk" on humor.

Thanks to my reader/friend for this.



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PowerPhrase: When Did You Quit De Facto?

It was the employee's final day. The manager saw it as her last chance to find out how such a good manager/(contract)employee relationship had gone so sour. She approached the young woman as she packed up her things and asked:

  • You gave notice two weeks ago. When did you quit de facto?

The employee froze. Her hands, holding pens she was packing, were suspended in mid-air. The manager wondered if her departing employee was searching her mind for some new defense or if she was searching her heart for the truth. The employee took a breath and replied, "I quit de facto the day you questioned my invoice."

"Thank you for telling me," the manager replied. She had suspected as much. The employee had acted like questioning her invoice was a criminal accusation. The manager had seen it as an opportunity to get clear about what was billable and what wasn't. The employee became so defensive that the conversation never reached a satisfying resolution. The questions were over minor amounts so the manager let it go, but communication felt strained and weird after that day. 

The manager was sad to see someone who had shown such promise leave, but she was also relieved. If the employee hadn't quit she would have let her go. It wasn't the first time she had questioned someone's accounting and it wouldn't be the last. It could have been an easy conversation. But it wasn't. And this manager knew she needed to work with people who were willing to address issues as they arose and move on. She found another person for the job who was willing to do that. 

She also found satisfaction in having her perceptions validated. 


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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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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.

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