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3 Communication Lessons from My Father

Over the years, my parents instilled in me their own unique lessons of life.  My mother taught me that I would always live by my reputation and that I should always work hard but enjoy most the simple things.

My father taught me three important lessons about communication that I will always remember:

#1: Always remember and use frequently someone’s name, and repeat it when speaking with them. There is a proven psychological benefit to using another person’s name in conversation. It makes the other person know that you are focused on them, that they are remembered by you, and that they’re important in your mind.  

Their name also helps keep their attention. This is specifically important in business conversations, as communicating your idea, or negotiating a deal, always requires the attention and clear understanding of both parties.

#2: When you don’t know what to say, say “Thank you.”  Then say their name. Like “Thank you, John.” Saying thank you is important because it gives you time in the conversation for both parties to pause and think. It’s also a way to show that you really are appreciative of the other person’s comment or conversation.

It’s important for people to feel appreciated in a conversation. And of course, repeating their name shows that you’re focused and grateful and shows that you are not just someone who throws out gratitude like candy.

#3: Communicating with yourself in writing is important. The way to best do this is by using 3X5 note cards. My father loved to use 3×5 note cards to write out his priorities for the day.

Once, when I was a teen, I came into my father’s office, complaining that I had so much to do, I had no idea how I was going to be able to handle it all.  I told my Dad: “I just don’t have enough time to tackle everything.” So, my father took out a 3×5 card and said to me, “Start writing out everything you have to do.”

I responded that it would be impossible, that it would take forever to do that!

He insisted “just do it.”

So, I began writing down what I had to do, and after the 3rd item, I couldn’t think of anything else. I realized quickly that I didn’t have infinite things to do, I simply had three tasks that I was so overwhelmed by that I’d created the illusion in my mind that I had millions of things to do.  



November 14, 2018

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