To my mom: I've said it before and I will say it again, you are the kind of woman I hope to become someday. Thank you.
I'm pretty sure my first word was mama, and I'm guessing a lot of your first words were too. Aside from it being a pretty easy word to say for babies, moms often get the nod on the first word because of our constant exposure to them while we are forming brain cells and language. Moms (and dads, but it's not their day) teach us all kinds of things about life, from what we should wear depending on the weather to how others should be treated.
So, in honor of my mom, and all mothers this Mother's Day, here are six things moms teach us about being good [read: effective] communicators.
1. Sit up straight/Don't slouch
Nonverbal communication can make or break someone's perception of us, especially in conversation. Whether in a business meeting or informal conversation with friends, the way we carry ourselves says a lot about our confidence, whether we are listening or not, and about our attitude. In this great Wall Street Journal article, Dr. Alex "Sandy" Pentland (who was interviewed for the piece) says "That's the point about honest signals: They're hard to fake and they tell you something important about the relationship and the activity you're doing with this other person." Moms have been telling their kids since forever how to carry themselves, posture and nonverbal communication have a huge bearing on interactions.
2. Mind your manners
It blows my mind how infrequently I hear/read 'please' and 'thank you' in simple conversations. I was a bartender for a long time and I'm amazed by how few patrons say please when ordering and thank you when I make and give them their drink. In any conversation, a request should be made with a please, and a favor should be answered with a thank you. Make it a habit and you will see better responses to requests and that you are far more likable.
3. What part of 'no' don't you understand?
In business and life it seems we hear no a lot, sometimes for good reasons, like our moms likely had, and sometimes for reasons we don't understand. My encouragement is to take every no as an opportunity to change our message to make it better for the person or people receiving it. What am I missing that made that person say no or not right now? And as a lesson from mom, sometimes 'no' should be enough.
4. Listen (to your mother)
Okay, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but listening in general is one of the cornerstones of great communication. I have nothing but respect for my mother, so I listen to her. By listening to people, we are telling them we respect them and what they are saying. By truly listening and understanding what others mean, we can formulate the best possible response, leading to efficient and effective communication.
5. If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?
Be yourself. In a world full of noise, those who say something meaningful, yet unique, stand out. It's easy for us to get caught up in doing what everyone else is doing and saying what people want to hear, but at what cost? Our moms, by asking us this simple question are teaching us to do/say what is in our hearts and minds, not do or say what the cool kids or everyone else is. This has been especially tough for me to grasp. I often struggle with sharing my true heart or thoughts because they might not be the same as others. I am trying to take a cue from mom and go my own way.
6. Treat others how you would like to be treated
Ah, the golden rule. So simple yet so incredibly important. In conversation or communication with others, we often get caught up in our own feelings and forget the person on the receiving end has their own thoughts and feelings too. When writing or talking with someone I like to think first how I would take what I am writing or saying. Would that piss me off? Is my intention to make someone happy or excited or sad? Be nice to people.