Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Speak Easy Note # 44 - Communication Resolutions 2011

For my final post of 2010, I had planned to create a Top Ten Communication 2011 New Year's Resolution List.  It struck me that these could be selected from the Speak Easy Rules at the end of each chapter in SPEAK EASY, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success.  Then it struck me that an even better way to end the year would be to include all of the Rules from each of the thirteen chapters, so here they are:

Speak Easy Rules – Chapter Summaries

1 Keep It Level

> Experience a level playing field of communication.

> Be aware of how facial expressions say more than words.

> Monitor your voice tone to diminish dual messages.

> Express your reactions directly without apology.

> Focus on demonstrating respect in every communication.

2 Tell Them That You Really Heard

> Acknowledge what others are saying.

> Validate others’ positions before promoting your own.

> Concentrate on listening without jumping to your views.

> Realize you can validate others without agreeing with them.

> Separate high standards from disapproval and judgment.

3 There’s A Good Way To Say Everything

> Select direct ways to communicate.

> Realize that people appreciate hearing the truth.

> Recognize that there is no need to embellish or distort.

> Resolve to be comfortable talking about difficult topics.

> Use simpler descriptions and realize that less is more.

4 Replacing Deadly Habits

> Avoid passive or victimized language.

> Express yourself in the affirmative.

> Choose neutral rather than negatively-charged words.

> Recognize the pitfalls of giving people advice.

> Eliminate hackneyed ways of communicating.

5 Be Your Own Best Friend

> Get your sense of well-being from yourself.

> Disempower abusive communicators.

> Focus on what you have rather than on what is missing.

> Value the gains you receive from loss.

> Build strong systems of support. 

6 Every Style Can Be Successful

> Appreciate what distinguishes you from other people.

> Believe there are many good approaches to all situations.

> Leverage your preferred style.

> See value in expanding your communication repertoire.

> Broaden your horizons to include wider views.

7 Armor For Abuse

> Dissolve people’s power to hurt you with their words.

> Recognize when silence would be the best response.

> Thank people, without defensiveness, for being open.

> Take care of your internal emotional trigger points.

> Refrain from measuring yourself harshly against others.

8 Refusing The Right Way

> Remain at ease when people make difficult requests.

> Validate people’s right to ask for what they want.

> Match your responses with what you can really deliver.

> Be clear when your intention is to refuse completely.

> Think through your response before you say yes.

9 Expanding Your “Who You Know” Quotient

> See NETWORKING as research and relationship building.

> Include solutions when discussing your challenges.

> Believe you have or can access the right contacts.

> Share what you know when you ask important questions.

> View NETWORKING as more than spreading your name.

10 Working It At Work

> Recognize how important positive communication is.

> Give 100% to being well-prepared.

> Speak with focus and direction.

> Base your communication on affirmative premises.

> Describe your strengths and actions in consistent terms.

11 Getting What You Want

> Think of negotiating as reaching agreement.

> Offer various options to get the results you want.

> Target what you say to your advantage.

> Define your objectives before engaging in negotiations.

> Recognize the value of patience and staying power.

12 Facing An Audience

> Challenge your belief system about public speaking.

> Realize how easy it is to talk about what you know well.

> See that stage fright enhances performance.

> Use true stories to illustrate your presentation points.

> Recognize how enthusiasm engages an audience.

13 Summing It All Up – Communication, Key To The Good Life

> Know that excellence in communication enriches life.

> Value what it takes to change communication patterns.

> See how universal basic human communication is.

> Take responsibility for what you say and how you say it.

> Be patient and determined with your communication goals.

Happy New Year!

Until 2011,
The Wordsmith

Friday, December 3, 2010

Speak Easy Note #43 - On Being Present

From time to time, I receive a personal communication that feels significant and universal, and I decide to incorporate and fictionalize it into my blog posting:

A friend wrote:

“ ... It is the building up of things. It is that the dog is very ill and probably dying, and that my wife was so upset on the phone, and that I did not come home and kept working ... as I do when things are bad. By the time I got home tonight my wife was in bed asleep, as I knew she would be.

And the years flash by and will soon be gone altogether. And everything feels like a challenge. I spent most of the afternoon on something that I used to be able to accomplish in half an hour, and ended up with an unsatisfactory result.

My children do not have easy lives. There are no easy lives. The least I can do is to be there for them, to watch and to listen and to bear witness to their struggles with life. Which I know is important to them. But I am not there. And what I set out to do today and did not do at all was to reset my priorities. To see my oldest son who has opened a new business. And to see more of my other children.  I have wisdom for them but I am not there. And, instead, an unsatisfactory day wasted on an unsatisfactory task that would have been better not to bother about at all, let alone be there instead of being with my wife who really needed me. And to think I told a former colleague the other day that, yes, I would be happy to take on a new design project for a couple of days a week for a year or two. Why did I agree to this!  And there is no comfort anywhere.

At the very moment I was writing this last thought, I received an amusing email from my middle son and replied to it humorously. For some reason, he and I find humor where others don't.  Since he was a tiny boy, we stand there sometimes, tears streaming down our faces, helpless with laughter. And no-one else understands why we are laughing.

So comfort is there after all ...”

My response:

Being present. All too troubling to consider, as I leave my elderly mother in Virginia, to return to New York after a ten-day visit. The range of emotions is vast.  I can identify with you and feel how you are grappling with this. Chastising yourself though is hardly the point.  It is a struggle being there for everyone. It has to start with being there for you, yourself, first. And the rest will follow. After all, in the end, for each of us and for every single moment we live and breathe, there IS only you, alone. The best part of life is being truly present for each moment and being there to support and share with others. Each "engagement" with those we love - and often, even with total strangers - is what makes life full of wonder. And yet, we are always separate and apart and can only be fully present for ourselves. Those who sacrifice their own lives for others can often be seeking what they cannot find in themselves.

Remain wholly present in life and contribute as much to the world and to your children as you can. Laughter till the tears run is just one way of being present and connected. Those moments remain within us, keeping us present for others when we are far apart and, alas, ever SEPARATE.

"Presence is more than just being there."
Malcolm S. Forbes

Until the next time,
The Wordsmith
Author of
SPEAK EASY, The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success