Hi, I’m Erin Donley, Communication Expert based in Portland, Oregon. I teach influential people how to choose their words wisely, so they gain respect, build rapport, and get the results they desire in business.

As a regular contributor for the Huffington Post, my articles tend to challenge the status quo and bring human-heartedness back into the way we speak and write.

It all began in 1st grade on school picture day. While standing in line, I listened to the photographer call each girl “princess” to entice bigger smiles.

When I stepped up in my gray wool blazer, power-red turtleneck and argyle socks, the photographer said, “Well hello, Nancy Reagan. Let me see you smile.

This validated my suspicion that I wasn’t like other kids. In fact, princess fantasyland was appalling to me.

I preferred speaking to adults who would tell me about their lives. Some of them would confess to unhappy marriages, failures at work and arguments with friends. The more details they’d provide, the more satisfied I’d be.

I jumped at the chance to go to funerals because I longed to witness adults who could show their true feelings.

Even as a kid, I could see: the things we do not say eventually get in the way. Our unspoken thoughts and neglected dreams cost us time, money, health, relationships, and most of all… emotional energy.

This led me to one of the top communication schools in the country, Ohio University. After completing my degree, I landed in Portland, Oregon and got a job selling radio commercials.

For the next decade, this put me in front of thousands of business owners to learn about their marketing and get included in their plans. After making great money and winning sales awards, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was lying to myself and to others all day long.

Not that I was telling lies or encouraged to lie, it was more like a withholding from what was truly on my mind and in my heart. I was becoming negative, jaded, and hopeless about my future.

And so I left the corporate scene with a sense of shame. Why wasn’t I “tough enough” to shut off my true feelings or needs?

Did this mean I couldn’t be successful by being myself?

That was the question that haunted me.

This led me to start writing a weekly column for the spiritual epicenter of Portland, which exposed me to the vast industry of coaches, speakers, authors, celebrities, and other high-profile individuals who wanted to be in the public eye and be KNOWN as cutting-edge communicators.

Soon, they became my consulting and copy writing clients, and several of them appeared on my talk show, Reveal What’s Real. Aside from our focus on marketing, they would also share their business related drama with me… and I loved hearing about it!

It seemed every day, I would get an email titled, How Should I Handle This?

They wanted to learn how to say no, how to ask for what they want, how to offer provocative opinions, and how to stay in the discussion when they wanted to bolt.

Soon I began training sales and management teams on these compelling ways to communicate, and then the Huffington Post started publishing my articles about the power of our words, and the discernment that’s needed in choosing them.

In the last 20 years, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my desire to make money and to make a difference. What blows me away is how many of us insist on achieving these goals without selling our souls or sacrificing our self-expression.

It takes a special kind of person to ask:

  • Are my words coming across as intended?
  • How can I say this differently and deliberately?
  • What could I say to get the results I want?

I’m grateful to help leaders in business become Communication Role Models.

Additionally, it’s a blast for me to embrace who I am and practice clear, intentional communication, no matter what.

Let’s meet online and keep the conversation going:

“Erin Donley is a brilliant teacher with an edgy, raw style that almost ALWAYS make me nod my head and wonder how she’s stolen my unvoiced thoughts and feelings, especially the ones I donʼt know Iʼm having until she articulates them.” ~ Sandi Goodwin

Photo credit: Carmen Phoenix Photography


“No one has to change, but everyone must have the conversation — and when real conversations occurs, change happens naturally.”
– David Whyte

Check out my articles on Huffington Post

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