"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?

A Fertile Pause: Let Me Think About That

PowerPhrase 300Yesterday was a noble experiment in food portions that led to a Blinding Flash of the Obvious. I am tempted to post about it now, but I'll let it percolate a bit more before I do that. The realization is so obvious that many of you will think (or know) that I can be clueless sometimes. I'll take a "fertile pause" before I disclose. 

Fertile pauses are useful in the middle of conversations as well as in blog postings. The simple words:

  • Let me think about that

...reset a conversation. Try it today. When you're tempted to be forthcoming, but suspect it might be better to wait or alter the conversational trajectory a bit, try that phrase. My fertile pause will be a day or more, but the phrase works well mid-conversation as well.


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A Bigger YES

devi pitchfork badI posted yesterday about how I ate more fat and protein than my system could handle, and I wanted to get at the root of why. I mentioned that cheap and easy answers won't change anything. 

Of course, it's important to be fair to myself about the circumstance. The same meal that sits well with me one day might not sit well at all on another. Hindsight is 20-20, and there can be plenty of days where I eat the same way with impunity. It won't occur to me that I had the same warning voice that day as I did the day I paid a price for my meal.

I want to be fair, but my goal isn't to let myself off the hook - nor is it to chastise myself unfairly. My goal is to figure out why I overload my system so I can remove the obstacles that prevent me from eating in ways that promote health and healing. That requires me to understand what happens and what I want to have happen. It requires that I help myself stay completely conscious at the decision points of eating. 

This principle applies to any way we overload our systems and for any decision that is less than optimal. 

Angela made an important point. She says she'll make a less nurturing choice when her "yes" isn't big enough. To make it easier to make the most optimal choice, she cultivates a bigger "YES."

Yesterday, when I tasted my lunch, I noticed it tasted like it had more fat than usual. I had the thought that I should probably just eat half of what was on my plate. That would have been a good time to put half in the fridge. 

Instead, I ate it all.

What did I trade off for the pleasure of eating the whole thing? I traded a Sunday of enjoyment for a Sunday of discomfort. Sounds like a devil's bargain to me.  

Seems obvious to me now. Why didn't it seem obvious at the choice point? How can I make it more obvious next time? How can I make my YES to eating without overloading my system big enough that it will be bigger than my desire to keep eating?

I'm still working with that one. I mentioned yesterday, cheap and easy answers won't change life-long patterns. I'm aiming at root cause here.

I invite you to work one of your own challenges through in a similar way. Bob and I just now explored his overloading his day yesterday, leading to restless sleep. Oh, and the extra handful of sunflower seeds didn't help. He has made remarkable strides thanks to his big YES to creating Space for Grace. He is one step closer to creating that reality. 

When will we ever learn? Now. It's just that it's a process to go deep into the root cause. 


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Why Do I Eat Too Much?

mistake 300Why do I eat too much? Not a question you would expect a 105-pound woman with a total of five pounds of body fat to be asking. But I do.

Why did I push the limits and eat more fat and protein than my system could handle yesterday? Why did I set myself up for the agony of The Gall Bladder Blues? I don't ask this question disparagingly. It's a real question. I don't assume the answers are all negative. We do what we do for a reason. 

Or for many reasons.

We learn more from mistakes than from our successes. When I keep making the same mistake over and over, I figure I'm setting myself up for a big learning.

But what?

Quick, cheap answers won't work with this kind of inner conversation. It takes deep listening, careful noticing and reflection to get anything likely to unravel a long-standing habit. 

Why do you do what you do?


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I'm Glad I Asked

Sansa ClipPurple Sansa Clip MP3 Players are $20 more than the black ones, but I wanted purple, so I bought one used. "Works perfectly," the ad said. $19 instead of $47. Seemed like a deal. Except it doesn't work perfectly. It only turns on when it is plugged in.

The vendor was happy to accept a return. I hesitated, but then said,

  • I can still use this plugged in. If you would consider a partial refund, that would work for me.

He refunded $13 and we both consider it a win. 

I'm glad I asked, and so is he!

What are you not asking for?


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How to Defend Your Joy AND Your Process

Arrows Road Sign Direction Choices 300Betty defended her joy. When her husband told her they couldn't afford massage right now, she told him with her new job,

  • We can't afford for me to not receive massage now, with all I'm doing.

He got right on board with her and has been supportive ever since.

Betty spoke with certainty. That probably played a strong role in winning her husband's support. But what if you're not certain? What if you're looking for support in coming to certainty? Often, people who are more results-oriented will tend to push a decision on people who are processing options and seeking input but not premature answers.

Being pretty much of a verbal processor myself, I find it helps to speak with certainty about my need to be in process until the path is clear enough for a decision. I will say:

  • I'm getting perspective and processing my options right now. I'd love your input into my decision (that process.)

Now that I write this, I realize my husband defended he process last night. He had a confusing exchange with a client. He asked for my input, but clearly told me he was aware that he would see it differently in the morning. 

He does see it differently this morning. He shared today's perspective, and told me he intends to let it settle over the weekend. He let me know he might ask my input again once he's had more time to process it. 

He intends to call the client Monday. If we discuss it Sunday, I expect the conversation to be more concrete and more focused on action. 

Defend your joy with as much certainty as you can authentically muster. If you're not certain, defend your right not to know for sure yet, and defend your right to process options. 


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The True Inside Story

read stories story 300"Why are your dreams so clear, but you are so fuzzy to talk with?"

I had an immediate and clear answer to that question, which was posed to me by a therapist thirty years ago. But I was fuzzy to talk to, so of course, I gave a fuzzy answer.

My quick answer was: dreams are unconscious. There's no need to justify my dreams. I just report them as experienced. Conversations are different. I need to jump through hoops to say the right thing.

I have other insights to that question now. Dreams speak a symbolic language. Back then, I didn't speak that language. My dreams were clear to a therapist who worked with imagery and symbols - but not to me.

The other insight is that my inner world and outer world were so many miles apart. In my experience, one only spoke of the externals. These days, when someone asks me what I'm up to, I'm likely to share insights, dreams and inner experiences. Those days, in conversations, only the externals mattered. It was as if the internals didn't exist.

I have residuals from those days. Recently, ladies in a new group asked me to tell them about myself. I spoke of my career. The fact is, for this group, the internals are much more relevant. How do I think, feel, and operate? What matters to me? Where is my heart?

It is becoming much easier to talk about the internals. It's also exciting to experience the connections and the sharing that the "inside story" inspires. Last night, a longtime family friend dropped by. I asked him questions about his life that got him sharing about his vision, his values and his interests. We discovered all kinds of things he had not shared before. Much of the detail was over our heads, but it didn't matter. We didn't need to understand the particulars to get a sense of the depth of his life quest. We learned a lot about how this dear friend thinks, feels and operates, what matters to him and where his heart is. 

I love exchanging true inside stories. 


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How Hard Can it Be? Spelling Woes

  • mistake 300How hard can it be to dial a phone number correctly the first time?
  • How hard can it be to put things back where they came from?
  • How hard can it be to get places on time?
  • How hard can it be to back out of a short, straight driveway?
  • How hard can it be to get the spelling right on a blog?


If you're me, the answer is:  pretty darn hard.

I do have redeeming qualities. 

Your "how hard can it be?" list won't be the same as mine, but I bet you do have one. And you do have a "redeeming qualities" list, too. 

We're working on it, one "how hard can it be" at a time. Many things have become easy.

Now that Angela is back in town, maybe the spelling errors won't be as blatant as they were when she was unavailable. Plus I am planning for us to work out a way to "mistake-proof" the blog moving forward. It needs to be a simple, user-friendly system that honors my nature and doesn't crush the joy of my writing. 

Now, how hard can it be for us to find the time to get such a system in place?


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The Tender Gift of Letting Yourself Be Coached

north starWhen someone does you the honor of letting you coach them - either formally or casually - resist the temptation to over-advise. Yesterday, my husband told me, "I should listen to you more often." I had told him his focus on troubleshooting the blinking modem light right before bed felt like an intrusion on our evening. He realized how much of an intrusion it was when he woke in the wee hours of the morning obsessing on what might have caused it.

His admission was music to my ears. I honor those words by resisting the temptation to go into detail about other things he "should" listen to me about. He's a grown man and very wise. He doesn't need me to tell him how to live his life. Honoring his sovereignty protects the power of my words. It helps him hear me when he invites my input or when I feel some input is needed.

This morning I considered nudging him in a direction I want him to go. I believe it will be good for him and he has agreed to do it - when the timing feels right to him.  I reflected on a dream and concluded his direction for himself is working just fine. He knows his own process better than I do. Plus, even if he would benefit now from doing what I would like him to, he would probably benefit far more when he makes the choice. 


I consult my dreams regularly for communication guidance. My dreams guided me to tell you how I consult my dreams. The timing feels right on that now.

Thanks to the readers who expressed interest in a dream group. I'm letting that idea incubate, and it helps to know of your interest.


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Dream Inspired, Relationship-Transforming PowerPhrases

Kitten 400"I learned two things last night." Bob told me. "That I should listen to you more, and that I shouldn't eat Kimchi and beans together."

Bob has a wonderful way of weaving humor with heartfelt sharing.

I had consulted two dream memories before I spoke last night. Just as Bob is learning to listen to me, I am learning to listen to my dreams. Here's what happened last night.

We returned from playing with our neighbor's kittens when Bob noticed a flashing light on the internet modem. He immediately went from kitten consciousness to problem-solving mode. He enlisted my support and I helped for a few minutes. Then I remembered a dream where I had been helping him with something after hours and decided it could wait. I told him in the dream,

  • This can wait. I don't want to focus on this now.

That's what I told him in the waking state last night. Everything was working and there was no emergency. I shifted my attention. Bob continued to research the issue. He joined me for some pre-bedtime bonding, but went back to trouble-shooting when I went to bed. I got up and told him,

  • This feels like an intrusion on our evening.

In speaking up, I was guided by the first dream, but also by a dream I had earlier this week. In that dream, I threw a workman out the window at 5:30 in the afternoon. It was a very decisive gesture that allowed Bob and me to settle in to our evening. The workman could finish in the morning. When the morning came (in the dream), I snuggled with Bob before I checked to see if the workman came back. 

It felt like the right thing to do in the dream. It feels like the right thing to do in life as well. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. Throw out the striving and the fixing and the focus on results when the day wanes and the evening begins. The image is very powerful for me.

I listened to my dreams. In reflection, Bob listened to me. He decided his quest had been an intrusion on the evening. He also decided he needs to listen to me more. Yay!

Tonight, we will play with the kittens again, and will enjoy kitten consciousness as we settle in to embrace the night - and as the night embraces us. 


I am considering starting a SpeakStrong dream group where we will explore how our dreams ask us to speak up, and what images they offer that can guide empowered self-expression. Let me know if this interests you. 


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A Passive-Aggressive Firing

key lock woman 300On one level it was no surprise. On another, it was stunning. Betty learned that her previous supervisor gave up on her on her second day. Betty's manager set her up for failure. 

How cruel!

The discovery matches the behavior. When Betty asked for help, the manager literally turned her back. Betty was thrown in with customers with little to no guidance. If the manager replied to a question at all, it was to say something like, "I told you that already."

Betty quit after two weeks.

Betty has a new job and a great attitude toward her previous manager. She's grateful for the opportunity to SpeakStrong. I admire Betty - and so do her new employers.

I know the feeling that comes with that kind of passive-aggressive behavior. I've been in situations where I tried to open a door while the person I struggled to engage with was covertly slamming it shut. Often they hold a key - like the awareness of their subterfuge - but they won't share it. I find myself wondering if I'm crazy. Just a little honesty - like - "I want out, so I'm trying to get you to end this" - would save a lot of misery. At least in Betty's case, the subterfuge was overt enough for Betty to be pretty sure what was going on. 

Don't you wish people would just say what they mean and mean what they say, without being mean when they say it? Don't you wish we could earnestly put everything on the table and work toward the best possible outcome together? I do. And I love it when I can. 

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The Need to Be Seen Can Make Us Invisible

cheerleadermaster 300Seth Godin wrote:

"A recent article outlines how NFL cheerleaders are paid less than minimum wage, disrespected and treated quite poorly. So why do they put up with this lousy behavior?"

His answer is, the need to be seen

The article makes it clear that the women are molded into a predetermined image. I think it's so much that they really aren't seen at all.   

I sometimes find that my visibility from my book PowerPhrases keeps me from being seen for who I am now. For example, people often see me as a Power Babe which I'm not in any usual sense. They speak to their image of me, and there is no room for them to see the actual me. 


This morning I shared something that excites me with Bob. He totally got it. It excited him, too. We both saw it, and we saw each other. There is no comparison of being seen for who we were or for a static image of ourselves, and being seen for real. 

Where do you feel really seen?


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What Are Your Graduating From and To This Spring?

mona lisa graduate 300Graduations are everywhere. Friends, neighbors and service providers have kids who are graduating or are graduating themselves.

I notice that those with graduating teens are experiencing a graduation themselves. It's a new stage of life for parents and children both. 

It feels like a new stage of life for me, too.

My illness has been my teacher. My dreams put my malaise on the same par as The Maharishi. Yesterday, I wondered if on some level I needed and chose to be unwell in order to remake my life on the deepest level. 

My first question is, what does my illness want me to learn? What have the teachings and gifts from it been?

That list is long. I came up with most of the items on my list by using the phrase:

  • Because I'm sick, I get to...

So just to name a few, I get to get new clothes that fit me physically and personally. I get to drop my superwoman personna that had me doing more and carrying loads that wore me out. I get to be human. I get to spend time cooking, learning about herbs, and developing my kitchen alchemy. I get to speak a deeper level of truth with Bob, even when it's hard for him to hear. I get to stop supporting Bob in ways that deplete me. The list goes on.

My second question is, can I live these teachings and receive these gifts without needing to be sick? 

One phrase for that question is:

  • I don't need to be sick to...

If I consciously choose to live the teachings of my illness, I think it would unravel anything I might be doing unconsciously that prolongs the illness.

Have I graduated? I don't know, but it sure feels like I have. But like all graduations, it's really just the beginning.

Happy graduation season to you and yours. May your transitions be liberating. 


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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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