When people ask me how long I've been a communication coach, I always answer, playfully, "Since I was three years old."

My sister was seven years older than I. She often antagonized people, especially our parents, by the way she communicated. She had endless curiosity which prompted many challenging questions and she wanted to have the last word in every conversation. "Why should I do that?", "Why are you doing that?", "Why can't I do that?", "Well, I think you're wrong!"

Instinctively, I set out to protect her from the aftermath of how she expressed herself, without any awareness of how young and inexperienced I was, "Don't say that."You're going to make them angry." "Please just listen and don't talk back!"

Imagine the resentment that grew between us. Who wanted a three-year-old sister telling her what to say?

In looking back, even when quite young, I possessed two key ingredients for good communication that my sister lacked. The first was self-assurance. My family members tell me that, as a little girl, I used to greet them affectionately, saying, "You love me, donchya?" ("don't you?"). Coupled with my confidence, I had an intuitive sense of what others wanted and of what they were feeling or experiencing. I somehow knew what to say that would have the right impact on them, would be mutually pleasing, and would resonate authentically for me and for them. I've always had a keen awareness of the impact words have on people.

Daniel Goleman, a renowned psychologist and visiting instructor at Harvard, identified that awareness of others as a critical component of Emotional Intelligence, the primary subject of his extensive writing.

Many years have passed since those days of the three-year-old coach. I've spent my life honing the skills that came naturally to me as a child. My roles in life have been varied: friend, family member, student, team member, leader, salesperson, actress, wife, teacher, mother, graduate student, counselor, writer, coworker, employer, public speaker, seminar facilitator, trainer, career advisor, executive coach, management consultant. The umbrella of communication has always been the controlling influence over every aspect of my life.

Clients often say, "You've captured exactly what I want to say; the words roll off your tongue so easily. Couldn't you just go say those words for me? Iíll never be able to say that as easily and well as you just did." I always laugh, supportively and appreciatively, and answer that of course the words come easily for me, that I've spent years focusing on better ways to communicate, and that I'm acutely attuned to all the layers that go into communication. As I continue to encourage them and review new ways to communicate with them, I watch as they take ownership of the words they actually want to say, conveying what they truly wish to express. I see the lights shining in their eyes and I see the genuineness and strength they gain as they enhance their communication and get in touch with all of the elements that contribute to how they're expressing themselves and how they're being perceived.

Bella, a Marketing Director who had abruptly and unexpectedly lost her senior position in a technology company at age forty-five, described to me the value she'd gained from learning how to reposition what she wanted to convey to people. She described how much easier it had become for her to initiate difficult communications and how differently she felt about herself as a result of these enhanced techniques:

"It's not whether my mood is up or down, it's the fact that my choice of language or vocabulary greatly influences how the person I'm speaking to perceives me, hears my message, and understands the events I am describing. It's about selecting appropriate language for that forward-moving spirit that I want to convey. This is not to ignore the fact that there's something that is painful or difficult, but to have a set of language to use for the outside world that works for me. It's how we all survive!"

My work has enriched my life profoundly and now it's time to give back for all that I've gained. My gift of a lifetime's work and dedication is Speak Easy - The Communication Guide for Career and Life Success. My goal is that you will find, understand, and be able to use all that you seek from this book so that you can easily say what you want and say it well, and mean what you say and say it directly.

And so, I'm inviting you to come on a journey with me. We will start our voyage with The Basics, the core mechanisms of effective communication. We will identify the four main underpinnings for every good communication. We will look at the most troublesome habits that deter successful communication and how to change them. We will pull together the key elements to provide you with a solid structural foundation for all of your communications.

Secondly, we will go to The Human Side of communication, to the interplay between our emotional make-up and our internal dialogues, and their effect on how and what we communicate. We will see the communication benefits gained from new perspectives and from defining, appreciating and leveraging our unique styles.

Lastly on this journey, we will look at The Situations where enhanced communication will set us apart and bring tremendous benefit. In my work as a Career Advisor and Communication Coach, I've primarily focused on work environments and work situations. Consequently, it's a natural outcome that the situations in this third section of Speak Easy will demonstrate a heavy emphasis on work-related circumstances and illustrations.

Certainly the five selected situations will bring you great benefit as critical competencies for good career management and significant platforms for exceptional communication: 
     - Refusing appropriately
     - Networking effectively
     - Workplace professionalism
     - Negotiating/reaching agreement
     - Public speaking/presentation

I've chosen these specific categories because of the
     - Relevance of good communication to success in each of them
     - Solid experience and expertise I can bring to you concerning them
     - Frequency that people want help to master them

What I've always seen is that the person each of us is at work and the one we are outside of work is a single individual with similar communication characteristics and tendencies in both professional and non-professional environments. Consequently, it's extremely important to keep this book geared toward helping you become a better communicator in every aspect of your life.

Here are the critical Speak Easy objectives:
     - To ensure the communication focus is solid, clear and consistent
     - To speak to a wide audience with diverse roles and varied lifestyles
     - To use the world of work as the primary framework for examining communication

Additionally and significantly, Speak Easy is built on the tried and true. It encompasses much that has been laid out in varying communication, assertiveness, career, leadership, self-help, and business guides.


> What makes it innovative and original is its new presentation and distinct combination of information.
> What makes it accessible is its clear-cut simplification and creative illustration in friendly, straightforward and lasting ways.
> What makes it valuable is how it goes beyond what has previously been written to provide you with sharp insights and awareness for authentic, advantageous and comfortable communication.
> What makes it engaging and appealing is how it brings together the emotional and the practical so you can acquire new communication skills and simultaneously understand the underlying feelings that significantly influence your communication.

Let's begin our communication voyage. Let's look at the words we say and the frame we each bring to our communication through our own experiences and perspectives. Let's listen to our inner voices that accompany our viewpoints and our interactions with others. Let's look at how we express ourselves at home, at play and at work. Let's examine the threads of communication that weave into all parts of our lives and how we can create the communication tapestry that represents us well and authentically in all settings. Come join me on this wonderful trip of self-awareness, self-expression, and enhanced communication.

Ultimately, it's how we interact, connect and communicate with each other on this planet that will control our destiny. This is true from the smallest plane of our individual lives to the largest world platform. When those who do battle with each other, individually or on a grand scale, can sit down together and talk it out, the earth will be a better place.