THE Skill Needed To Be A Smart Communicator

Boredom occurs when you fail to make the other person interesting

Warren Bennis


For over twenty years I’ve had the privilege of helping people find their voice – helping people learn to communicate in smart, healthy ways. I’ve coached hundreds of men and women from their teens through their seventies. I’ve worked with people involved in multitudinous works, across the globe. I haven’t seen it all, but I have seen a lot.

While I know that I’ve had an impact on many people’s personal and professional lives, I also know that I’ve not been able to help everyone who has sought me out. In fact, there are probably just as many people I haven’t been able to help, as there are whom I have been able to help.

I’ve had to come terms with the reality that I can’t be all things to all people. Not every teacher or doctor or lawyer is the right fit for every potential client. And so I’ve had to learn my limitations and over time I’ve learned to be more intuitive, more honest and more strategic in accepting clients.

Acknowledging all this, I continue to grapple with the question: why are some people able to acquire a large repertoire of communication and interpersonal skills and others seem not able to expand their skill set?

I wrestle with this question in part out of curiosity, in part out of pride (why can’t I “fix” everyone) and in part, large part, because I’m genuinely baffled.

What is the difference between people who are successful in relationships and people who are at best stilted and at worst alienating in their relationships?

I believe the difference rests with whether a person is interested in and likes people or is disinterested and insulated emotionally and intellectually from people.

I’m amazed at how many people just seem to be not curious about people. They’re not interested in other people’s stories, in what makes them tick or in how they share similar fates.

Recently, Tanya (names changed), a psychologist, came to me because she doesn’t like talking with people! She’ll give them her attention and skill for the fifty minutes she’s being paid and then she wants them gone. She’s hired me in the hope that I can “teach” her how to talk with people in an informal way.

And then there’s Scott who works in the hospitality industry. He doesn’t understand why his team is upset that he doesn’t smile and greet them with a “Good Morning!” when he arrives at work. HR asked me to “help” him.

A therapist who’s not interested in people unless they’re paying her and a hotel manager who doesn’t understand why he should smile at his team when he arrives for work.


I bow before the reality and the mystery that as humans we are such wondrous and baffling (and frail) creatures.

I am convinced that if you don’t like people you’re not going to know how to learn to communicate in ways that are smart, strategic and healthy.

Skill is only rooted in interest.

Of course, the next question is:

Is it possible to teach someone how to be interested in people?

I stubbornly want to believe that there is – BUT, I’ll have to let Tanya and Scott get back to you on that. . .

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