10 communication lessons from our grandparents

Online slang and shorthand, a decline in courtesy, and the omnipresence of smartphones has hurt our interactions. Try these ‘olde tyme’ techniques.

My grandfather passed away a few months ago, and he was one of my closest friends and confidants.

Not only was he very successful personally, but he was also my mentor in business in how he genuinely cared about the well-being of his employees, family, and business partners.

In a word where everyone sleeps with a smartphone, and maintaining relationships with friends and family via social media networks is the norm, I’d like to propose we turn back the clock on how we communicate with one another with a few lessons from the older generation.

1. Create a “phone free” atmosphere.

Whether at the dinner table with family or friends or in a board meeting, put your phone on silent, put it away, and listen to the conversations and engage uninterrupted. You’ll be amazed at what you retain when not multi-tasking.

2. Give in-person positive reinforcement.

Is a team member “the bee’s knees”? Tell them in person. Look them in the eyes, and tell them you appreciate them. An email can’t replace a smile and a physical pat on the back.

3. Disconnect after work.

When you leave the office, leave the office. Yes, we know you can still check email and work from your laptop, but don’t if it’s not necessary. Spend quality time with yourself to unwind and recharge, or surround yourself with family and friends.

4. Say “please” and “thank you.”

So simple, yet so important. The older generation is highly focused on manners and best practices for communicating to get what it is you’re looking for. Mind your manners to succeed in everyday life and business.

5. Enjoy Happy Hour.

After putting your all into the office and your work for the day, treat yourself to a Happy Hour refreshment as a personal “good job” for the day. This daily tradition of the older generation is so symbolic as a daily reminder to unwind and recharge. This habit can also apply to a daily walk, yoga class, or 30 minutes’ reading for leisure on the couch.

6. Send handwritten thank-you notes.

With hundreds of emails, tweets, and texts to sort through daily, you canmake a splash with an unexpected, handwritten note to show your appreciation. This is especially relevant for a post-interview thank-you or after a client or agency has been working with the team exceptionally well. Real mail shows you went the extra mile. Keep it up.

7. Put family first.

Through the ups and downs of professional ventures, investing time with family is of the utmost importance. Take time with your support system, and your professional performance will reap the benefits.

8. Be kind.

Good intentions and treating others with respect are surefire ways to make lasting relationships and connect with people who will encourage you to be the best version of yourself professionally and personally. Just like the very best grandparents, be kind.

9. Do not speak in hashtags and slang.

“Hashtag selfie, LOL!” is not proper grammar, and in all honesty, does not help perpetuate an intellectual business professional persona. Carry yourself with articulate commentary in both verbal and written situations. Be mindful of language, and stand out in the crowd with your brains and wit.

10. Love what you do.

Life is short. Find passion in your daily work, and invest in relationships that support you when times get tough. Grandpa’s orders.

Carrie Barrett is the social media director at Internet Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency in San Diego. Follow her on Twitter at @CarrieSavvy.

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