I was interviewing a local business owner and I was impressed by what a great listener she was. She was completely focused on our conversation without checking her phone, her e-mail, or looking around at what others were doing. I knew she heard me completely. Can you say that about most of the conversations you have during the day? We are so distracted by the many facets of our life that many times we don’t really hear what someone is saying to us. Good communication can solve problems, and poor communication can cause them. I am going to try harder to be a better listener.

My interactions with the business owner made me wonder what other traits make a big difference in the way we live our lives. Here is a shortlist that matters to me.


Everyone struggles in some way and a little kindness can go a long way. I actively look for ways to be kind. Simple gestures like smiling at someone or opening a door can help. If you can pay for someone’s coffee, do it. Whatever you think will lift someone up is a good idea. Be kind when it is hard to be. We were at a restaurant and the service was terrible. I have learned to find the reason before reacting. The waitress told us that only one cook showed up to work, and they were also missing two servers. The signs that say thank the people who showed up are perfect. Don’t allow frustration to get the better of you.


I heard on the news today that many people act completely differently when they are at work and home. I think the mask of trying to be something I’m not would be too heavy to carry. Wouldn’t you always be afraid that someone will figure out you are not who you are pretending to be? Be your authentic self and people can choose to accept that or not.

Keep an open mind

Is it hard for you to accept that someone else’s opinion might be the correct one, or do you like to hear others share their ideas? I like to discuss topics with people who can talk about an issue calmly. I can learn more in that situation.


I think judgmental comments are hateful, but it is something I struggle with myself. I can hear myself saying, “What was she thinking?” or, “Why did he say that?” I always feel awful when I realize I have judged someone, and I swear I will do better tomorrow. I’m going to keep trying because I don’t have any right to decide how someone else should act.


I would like to think I am a positive person, but the negative thoughts slip in now and then. Thoughts, like I’m not good enough or can’t do something well enough, are defeating. We need to work on keeping our thoughts positive and productive. Every time you hear a negative thought creeping in, turn it into a positive.


We all need a few people in our lives who are fiercely loyal. These are the people who don’t talk behind your back, and always have something good to say about you.

What are the top qualities on your list of essential traits?

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