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Learning To Do Better

I love communication. I believe that language is the most powerful tool we possess, and that by improving our communication skills, we also enhance our lives. It often happens on a podcast or panel that someone will mistakenly introduce me as a communication “expert”. I’m intentional about calling myself a communication “specialist” for many reasons, the most important of which is because I am still learning.

The beauty of being a practitioner is that I’m constantly in process… never arriving at “done”, forever seeking new insights and best practices in communication coaching. The rub of being a communication specialist is that folks expect you to get it right.

And while many times I do, sometimes I don’t. The moments where my intention does not align with the impact of my words are painful, yet they teach me far more than when I hit the mark. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” (Maya Angelou)

A few weeks back a father shared with me something he learned from his son’s 2nd-grade teacher. His son has a diagnosis of ADHD and is often distracted in the classroom. At the parent-teacher conference, the boy’s teacher began by saying, “Your son isn’t paying attention”, and then paused and instead said, “I’m not holding your son’s attention.” I shared this story on a webinar and someone said, “What’s the difference? The issue remains unchanged – either way, the kid isn’t paying attention.” The difference is how a small shift changed the focus from blaming the child to addressing the issue and thereby opened the door for a less defensive, more productive conversation.

How we word the comments we make or the questions we ask can often feel like trivial decisions, yet these small moments accumulate to form the kinds of relationships we have and the quality of connections we create in our coaching. While we may not always get it right, these brief exchanges gift us the opportunity to do our best – and thankfully, over time – to do better.

With gratitude and great hope for our future,

Betsy

Meet Betsy Butterick

Betsy Butterick is a coach and communication specialist working with individuals ready to improve and teams of all kinds – from the locker room to the boardroom.

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