How to Have REAL Conversations


How to Have REAL Conversations

by Marcia Reynolds

Image courtesy of Ambro at

How many conversations do you have that seem to go well but nothing happens as a result? How many other conversations do you have that don’t go well because no one wants to mention the truth about the situation – fearing negative feedback and emotional retaliation?

John R. Stoker, president of DialogueWORKS Inc. has written a book to help people deal with these frustrating conversations. The book is called, Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold REAL Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results.

The worst situation is when you think you had a normal conversation but end up mystified when performance remains the same, accountability never improves, problems aren’t solved, customers aren’t satisfied, and challenges go unaddressed. You think you’ve shared your message, but obviously something about the conversation didn’t work.

It’s true that people easily misinterpret what they hear because of internal filters based on past experiences. As a normal human, it’s easy to beat around the bush so people don’t really know what you want. So they shake their heads and move on, letting the conversation drift out of their memory as they face other important tasks.

You may not mean to engage in fake talk, but your emotions may sabotage your desire to be real.

Hold REAL Conversations

REAL is an acronym for four skills useful for all conversations.

Recognize and suspend judgments

Express thoughts, feelings, experience, or opinions without creating resistance

Ask questions to understand

Listen and attend to messages that others express verbally and non-verbally.

REAL conversations focus on establishing a respectful relationship while speaking. The intent is to ensure that you listen and respond while speaking so that others feel understood, valued and respected. Even if someone disagrees, they don’t feel as if you made them wrong or that you devalued their ideas. They feel acknowledged, even if they have to change their behavior.

Coaching Tip:

To assess the quality of your conversations, answer four questions:

  • Am I getting the results I want after one conversation?
  • Do people feel good about our relationship during and after our conversations?
  • Can I honestly say that I treat others as I would want them to treat me, no matter who they are or what they do?
  • Can I be wrong? Are there times when what I want isn’t possible?

The last item is the most significant when judging the quality of your conversations. The greatest opportunities for holding REAL Conversations come when no one agrees with your view, and you don’t get what you want. If you aren’t open to REAL conversations all the time, you put results, respect, and relationships in jeopardy.

To achieve the results you seek, stop engaging in fake talk. Instead, engage in conversations that express what you truly think, feel, or want—and listen and accept what others truly think, feel, and want as equal in value to your own input. Together, you can find a way to make and meet real expectations.

 About the Author:

marcia cropped orange small lightMarcia Reynolds, PsyD, works with clients worldwide focusing on emotional intelligence and change. She is a Master Certified Coach and a past president of the International Coach Federation. Her website is

Contact her at 602-954-9030,

Are Your Presentations Powerful? They Can Be!


Are Your Presentations Powerful? They Can Be! By Sylva Leduc, MEd, MPEC

Courtesy and Franky242

If you are like most people, you probably don’t like presenting. You might have read somewhere that public speaking is the #1 fear of most people… rated even higher than the fear of dying!

If the thought of public speaking makes you cringe, I have good news. You can deliver confident and powerful presentations!

All it takes is preparation, practice, and a winning mindset. How do I know? The first time I had to present in front of a large group, I thought I was going to faint. Through preparation, practice, and intentionally placing myself in front of opportunities to present, I grew to enjoy speaking in front of large groups. Now, it's one of my favorite ways to connect with people.

Keep in mind that some of the best, most well-known speakers and actors have confessed  they don't like presenting. So, when you look at your audience, know you’re in good company because they are probably admiring your courage and want you to be successful.

Also remember your words contribute only about 10% of what is communicated. That leaves 90% to nonverbals. If your body language, expression, and gestures communicate confidence, you will come across as confident.

Coaching Tip:

To be more confident as a public speaker, you must be prepared, practice, and identify (beforehand) instant solutions for distressing when you’re on the podium. With these simple tips and tactics, you’ll be ready in no time, feeling confident, and fully prepared to speak to a group of any size.

* Know your content —identify your key messages and bullet them in order so they tell a clear story.

* Practice delivery of your lines in the mirror until the words flow like water.

* Visualize yourself delivering your presentation. Then see your audience’s reaction. Visualize it over and over until you can see it so clearly you know what color of socks your boss is wearing!

* Identify ways to calm your nerves before you even begin: take deep breaths, or find whatever works for you (e.g., picture everyone in funny pajamas).

* When speaking, be sure to keep your pace s…l...o…w. Many of us tend to speedtalk when presenting. That means often what might feel slow to us sounds just right to the listener.

When you are well prepared you will make your points confidently, answer questions clearly, and start to look forward to your next opportunity to be on stage. If it worked for me, it will work for you!

85Sylva Leduc is a Leadership Strategist, executive coach, seasoned facilitator, speaker, published author, and past president of ICF Phoenix. She has twice received the ICF’s Prism Award for her Executive Coaching. Sylva’s coaching certification is from the College of Executive Coaching, where she is also a faculty member, teaches a variety of courses, and mentors new coaches.

Her company, Sage Leadership Strategies, focuses on executive coaching, 360 feedback, onboarding, developing emerging leaders, team programs, retreat facilitation and strategic planning.

Office: 480-515-5511 E-mail:





Childhood Obesity: Kids Need SPACE


Courtesy Arvind Balaraman and

Childhood Obesity: Kids Need SPACE

by Tammy Farrell

Eat nutritiously.  Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep.  Socialize...but not too much.

There's a lot of information available about how to create healthy lifestyles for our kids. Getting there remains the challenge.

Childhood obesity can set the pace of a child's life. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) reminds us, obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The statistics are scary, as are the potential short and long term health effects. And  let's not pretend  there aren't heart-wrenching effects that can play themselves out as low self-esteem, ineffective stress management, and social anxiety issues.

I was obese as a child, and I can absolutely say  it doesn't have to be this way!  There are ways to prevent and treat childhood obesity that can recover lost ground, restore energy and vitality, and pave the way for a healthy vibrant life.

Coaching Tip:

Give the children in your life SPACE to grow up in a way that reflects your love and pride in them.

Support:  Let them know that their feelings are valid and that you're there for them. Choose school, family, and work activities that involve movement, joy, and fun.

Plan ahead: Notice when kids fight over wonderful, nutritious food choices. Raspberries don't stand a chance in my house!  When it's time to choose an activity or snack, remind them how great those choices made them feel.

Activity:  Recognize those moments when kids are elated and feel good.  Jumping rope, bouncing on a trampoline, dancing to favorite tunes, and good old fashioned hide-and- seek all will get their blood stirring.

Celebrate:  Spread around high fives as kids beam with excitement when they race each other to the end of the field. Above all, notice their good choices. A "Good job!" compliment from you surely will make their day.

Encourage:  Make games and activities available that encourage kids to release energy and strengthen their bodies. Have lunch with your kids or show up unexpectedly at a team practice.

Take one of these actions today to make children’s health a priority.  What will you do?

© Copyright 2014: Believe In Action Coaching.


About the Author:

Tammy FarrellAs a former corporate executive, Tammy Farrell embodies the fact that success comes as a result of action. Her philosophy comes through in her coaching style with value-centered actions serving as the primary catalysts for change. Tammy founded Believe In Action Coaching, where she specializes in working with clients who are considering or who have had weight loss surgeries.

Tammy is the Vice President of Finance of the ICF Phoenix Chapter for 2014.

Office:  480.320.3722


The Key to Happiness Might be in a Toybox



Photo by Kalexanderson / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


The Key to Happiness Might be in a Toybox

by Paul Tracy,  CTACC

To some degree, society sees playfulness as frivolous. Why is being playful seen in such a negative light?

Psychologist Dr. Stuart Brown leads the National Institute for Play, which focuses on opening opportunities for play in relationships, health, education and corporate environments.  Dr. Brown observed that “Executives running organizations do not have the information to understand the true nature of play. Even those who have a natural appreciation and temperament for the benefits of play see play and work as separate. Some believe that play is the opposite of work. Yet science already provides data to show that playful ways of work lead to more creative, adaptable workers and teams.” Note the belief that work and play are opposites. Brown is often quoted as saying that the opposite of play isn’t work -- the opposite of play is depression.

In his excellent article about adult play, Joe Robinson explains that “Play brings you back to life — your life. Adults need to play because so much of our life is utilitarian. We need to reconnect with the things of our lives that ground us in who we really are and why we like our lives. When a 40-year-old goes headfirst down a water slide, that person is not 40 anymore. A few decades have been knocked off, because something inside has come alive again. It should be pretty obvious that the animating spark of play is the fast track to happiness.”


Coaching Tip:

How might you add a little more play into your life? Here's how you can get started:

  • Make a list of what brought you joy when you were young. Was it sports, puzzles, games, or being creative?
  • Map these to activities you can do right now. Maybe you could join an adult sport league, start a family game night, or get back to that creative writing you started in college.
  • Make a commitment to explore these activities over the next 30 to 60 days.
  • For the purpose of your own discovery, start a journal of what you’re doing to be more playful. Do some reflection and note the impact it has on other parts of your life.
  • Once you feel comfortable with your new, playful self, think of how you can introduce play into your professional life. Could you increase creativity or lower stress?
  • Finally, bring some playfulness into your relationships. (This part you might want to keep out of your journal!)

Play is a necessary part of being a whole and fulfilled person. It’s required for your wellbeing and happiness. What are you waiting for -- go out and play!

About the Author:

PaulTracyHawaiiPaul Tracy, CTACC, is President-Elect of the ICF Phoenix Chapter.  Paul came to coaching after many years as a leader of the customer experience areas of several software companies. Paul’s unique coaching niche is working with individuals who want to take control of their life and drive it further and faster than they ever imagined possible.  Contact him at, or (480) 788-7229.