THE COM­MU­NI­CA­TOR Dis­cover and share those gifts we’re all born with


OKAY, folks, just in time for the hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son, here’s your op­por­tu­nity to claim a gift! An im­por­tant re­minder of this in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity flashed my way ear­lier this month when I was in Florence, Italy. The morn­ing sun shone un­sea­son­ably warmly as I sat on a bal­cony over­look­ing the re­nais­sance dome of the city’s fa­mous cathe­dral.

I was in town to fa­cil­i­tate a con­fer­ence. An­other woman, whom I’d joined for a cof­fee, had or­gan­ised a sep­a­rate con­fer­ence that was run­ning along­side. As we sipped our espres­sos, I men­tioned that next year I’d be happy to pro­vide a com­mu­ni­ca­tions train­ing work­shop on pre­sen­ta­tion per­for­mance for her par­tic­i­pants.

“But don’t you think it’s a gift that some peo­ple just have?” she asked.

“Not at all,” I hastily replied. “Pur­pose­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tions is a skill that can be trained and prac­ticed like any other com­pe­tency.”

But now, back here in Dublin. I keep re­play­ing that con­ver­sa­tion in my mind. I think she is right. En­gag­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions is a gift.

Yes, it is some­thing that needs to be nur­tured and de­vel­oped, but it is also a gift.

Think back to when you were a lit­tle child and ev­ery story you told was the most ex­cit­ing, most thrilling, most im­por­tant thing ever. Eyes wide and mind open, you em­braced the world with an­tic­i­pa­tion and en­thu­si­asm.

Each one of us is born with the gift. Yes? No? Well, let’s ex­am­ine this no­tion.

Whether you were an out­go­ing, an­i­mated child or a more in­tro­spec­tive and thought­ful young­ster, you saw the world fresh through un­jaded eyes. You ex­pe­ri­enced birth­days and hol­i­days. Tremen­dous joys. Tragic losses. That’s the gift. The col­lec­tion of ex­pe­ri­ences that each of us has.

Your col­lec­tion is spe­cial. Dif­fer­ent from any­one else’s. Draw your­self in­ward and cat­a­logue your ex­pe­ri­ences into an an­thol­ogy of mean­ing­ful sto­ries. You are wrap­ping your gift and pre­par­ing to share it with oth­ers.

(Yes, I know sadly, some­times chil­dren don’t di­rectly ex­press them­selves so­cially, al­beit due to autism or an­other dis­abil­ity, but with the right as­sistance, I’m con­vinced their unique gifts can be un­locked too.) their on-cam­era in­tro­duc­tions, it be­came ap­par­ent that nearly ev­ery one of them owns a dog.

The shared anec­dotes around this seem­ingly triv­ial piece of life can form mean­ing­ful bonds.

Don’t be afraid to share some of your more dra­matic and vul­ner­a­ble sto­ries ei­ther. As loyal read­ers will al­ready know, my dad died when I was a kid.

This week, at a first meet­ing, a new con­tact and I swapped sto­ries of per­sonal loss. Sto­ries about my dad and sto­ries about how her brother died un­ex­pect­edly.

This might seem like sim­ple con­ver­sa­tion — not pur­pose­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tions. But your aware­ness about the power that this kind of shar­ing brings with it is part of tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for your gift.

Take your time. Don’t rush this aware­ness de­vel­op­ment process. Layer on your skills slowly and de­lib­er­ately. One com­mu­ni­ca­tion event at a time. I once had a client tell me that a pre­vi­ous con­sul­tant had told him that he “didn’t need any more train­ing”. That he was per­fect just the way he was. Fas­ci­nat­ing. I dis­agree.

Un­til we’re dead, we can all work to bet­ter con­nect. Bet­ter value oth­ers. Keep de­vel­op­ing our gift. All the time.

Main­tain­ing your com­mu­ni­ca­tions edge takes ef­fort. If you keep us­ing the axe with­out sharp­en­ing it, it will be­come dull.

Like­wise, it’s im­por­tant to keep seek­ing feed­back and course-cor­rect­ing your­self. Re­mem­ber, you are never not com­mu­ni­cat­ing.

Don’t get lost in the hype. There are so many new in­no­va­tions and apps and de­vices and ser­vices that promise to “rev­o­lu­tionise” the way you do busi­ness, you can eas­ily feel con­fused and over­whelmed. Which should you in­vest in? How many? At what cost?

One gad­get isn’t go­ing to change your world. Only you can do that. In­vest in your­self.

As you go to the shops, or browse on­line for hol­i­day gifts for oth­ers, make sure to give your­self the gift that gives back to oth­ers in so many ways.

It’s time to claim your gift. In other news, and know­ing that I al­ways want to cel­e­brate as many ded­i­cated pur­pose­ful com­mu­ni­ca­tors that I can, I can’t let this week go by with­out a shout-out and tip of The Com­mu­ni­ca­tor’s cap to the won­der­fully help­ful Ais­ling Mol­loy at AIB in Cork. I had an un­for­tu­nate fraud at­tempt in one of my ac­counts which re­sulted in my card be­ing blocked for se­cu­rity mea­sures.

But one quick call to Ais­ling and she helped walk me through and ex­pe­dite pro­ce­dures which gave me great re­lief since I was about to jump on a plane to Swe­den. Thank you!

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