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Effective Communication - WHAT is it?

13th Oct 2020

Isn’t communication a funny old thing? Just when you think you’ve got every situation covered, someone moves the goal posts. Just when you think you think you’ve got a common understanding someone doesn’t live up to what is was you expected them of. The key word in there? Expected. When we feel our ‘expectation’ markers haven’t been met (I’m talking work and  personal life here) our immediate reaction is usually anger. But actually what happens first is disappointment. But we are inclined to ignore that feeling and go straight to the anger, then we start blaming and criticising – ‘why haven’t you done this…’ or ‘we decided this was how it was going to go’ or ‘you know how I feel when you do/don’t do this/that and yet you still do it’. Do you throw in some contempt in there while you are at it? An eye roll? A lip sneer? What about in the tone of your voice? I bet you do. This can make the other person feel a bit attacked, perhaps. Under pressure, certainly, to perform or conform. Or they might go the opposite way and think, something along the lines of, stuff you. But no matter the reaction what the situation is a disagreement, an argument that can easily escalate into an ongoing issue that never gets fixed. What is standing in the way of getting communication issues resolved? The need to be right. I am right, you are wrong. This makes you the victim and the other person the villain. Neither ‘labels’ are that pleasant nor (I’m sure) no one wants to be either.

What to do about it? To stop the escalation in its tracks and so if it happens again you can deal with it in a much more effective way. Et Voila! Effective Communication!

It’s a simple 4 steps (Dr Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap, 2009). Simple but not that easy.

  1. Notice. When someone does something or says something that triggers an emotional response in you, just notice it. This is interesting. This has really triggered me.
  2. Wonder. Ask yourself, I wonder what is in behind the anger I’m feeling. Is it frustration? Disappointment? And, why? Why do you feel that way? What is this about? If you can, write it down. What triggered you and your reaction?
  3. Breathe. Using your diaphragm breathe at least 3 deep breaths, doing this properly should take around 12 seconds. How do you feel now?
  4. Choose. Let it be or let it go. Letting it go means the issue is no longer an issue. The trigger may have been something else entirely unrelated (like lack of sleep. Hunger.) Something that you can usually just let go but for whatever reason this time, it had really annoyed you but after giving yourself some space to reconcile it within yourself, you have let it go. But If it’s something you still feel the need to resolve, have a conversation with the other person about but it’s not the right time, then let it be until you can have that conversation.

Supposing you’ve decided this needs to be sorted. Of course, there are techniques around this and it all depends on exactly who and what. But in general, to sort an issues you, and I mean YOU, not the other person has to do, is remove these 4 (what is it with 4??) things from your dialogue. Blame, criticism, defensiveness, contempt. (Dr John Gottman’s 4 horses of the apocalypse). Then have the conversation. From professional and personal experience, this takes practice and time so good luck!!  

Seriously, for more personalised advice and training on effective communication click here to have a (no obligation, of course) conversation. Book a Time

Or send me an email with what you want to achieve and I can outline what would work best for you in terms of effective, excellent, open and honest communication.


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"Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems"

30th Sep 2020

“There’s no question that women are being hit harder by the Covid-19 slowdown”, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.

Whilst it is difficult to have  the exact percentage of redundancies for women due to Covid-19 the estimate is around 70% of women have lost their job due to the pandemic. There are many factors around the ‘why’ of this, but let’s focus on creating opportunities to support women in gaining further employment. In New Zealand there are resources and funding available for re-training, professional development and starting your own business. But if getting another job is the main focus, the big question is, how do you stand out in this crowded market? One report I heard was the same job advertised this time last year in a company in Queenstown attracted 4 applicants. This year it was 90. What to do? First of all, get your CV updated and checked over by an HR advisor. If your CV is not spot on you won’t even progress to the next step – getting an interview. If there is even a vague error in it, it won’t even get onto the ‘yes’ pile. Let’s say you have taken this critical step and your CV will most definitely get you into round two – the interview. You might have around 40 -45 minutes to articulate exactly WHY you should get the job. For some women this in itself is challenging but it is a must. If you don’t speak up for what you have done, what you can do and how you will add value to the company interviewing you, no one will, and that is your opportunity lost.  It’s nerve wracking but there are techniques, strategies and exercises to keep your nerves at bay and to confidently and eloquently present you at your best. Appearing confident is impressive to any prospective employer. Presenting yourself well will also be impressive because this will possibly mean you will present well for their business. Lastly, to learn how to do your best in an interview please do not turn to You Tube. You need to learn what works for you and You Tube videos are very generic and, at times, out and out wrong. If you want to be the best you have to learn from the best. That’s the bottom line. Because children’s speech is very close to my heart I am donating a child’s speech programme for every corporate re-training attendee for my coaching programmes. If you are looking for help and your company has a re-training package, get in touch. If you know of a child (or even a school) that would benefit from free speech lessons nominate them and we will go from there. “Victory comes from finding opportunities in problems.”Sun Tzu. Good luck out there!

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Help! I’ve lost my voice!

21st Sep 2020

Losing your voice is not funny when training others how to speak clearly, confidently and with authority is your actual business.

So, how did this happen? 5 reasons actually.

#1. I haven’t taken care of my vocal cords. I haven’t stayed hydrated enough primarily and I haven’t been projecting my voice in the correct way.

#2. I have been speaking for too long and too often – I haven’t rested enough. Sometimes by the end of the day I’m whispering. In my schedule I usually have chunks of time to do tasks that don’t include speaking but over the last month I've been cramming other things in. See #3.

#3. I have trying to do too much, take on too many projects that I can’t really fit into my day without something else being squeezed out or down AND not sticking to my knitting, taking on projects that are irrelevant to my business. But they sound fun!  And it is fun! Until someone gets injured. Ahem.

#4. I haven’t said no. Similar to #3 but different in that I haven’t been honest. Sure, I can do that. When you do want to start? Ummm, well, I don’t really do that anymore but why not? Just this once.

In other words, I haven’t been honest. I generally believe in psychosomatic symptoms (as in there are other underlying factors behind the injury or illness) and this lost voice is telling me to say “No, sorry that doesn’t fit into my schedule at the moment” or “My business doesn’t offer that service anymore, try this one”.

#5. Because of all the rush and stress going on, my breathing has become inverted. Breathing into my chest as opposed to my diaphragm. This is speaking 101 and I have gone way off on some tangent and this ‘lost voice’ is saying ‘come back, we need you here’.

Here’s to rest, water, diaphragmatic breathing and saying “No.” Clearly and confidently.

If you need help with your voice here are 3 ways I can help:

  1. Download the free ebook to get started on you, your voice and your speech.
  2. Purchase your own training manual to teach yourself how to use your voice effectively.
  3. Join my training group Find Your Voice, Find Your Words.


Here's to your successful week, Miriam.

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Get in touch with Miriam to discuss how she can help you.