• Three Questions of Communication

    A few years ago I learned the best lesson for effective communication.  I don’t know who taught me this technique, but I am immensely grateful to them.  I learned that before I open my mouth, I have to ask three questions about what I want to say.

    1. Is it true?
    2. Is it necessary?
    3. Is it kind?

    If the answer to all three questions is “Yes,” then I can say it.  If not, I have to keep my mouth shut until I figure out a better way to phrase my thoughts.

    I had a job once where I often had to remind myself that it was inappropriate to tell people that they were morons.  Here’s how the questions tended to play out in my head:

    1. Is it true?  Yes!
    2. Is it necessary?  I think so.
    3. Is it kind?  <crickets>

    And back to the drawing board I went until I could find a kind way to say what I thought I needed to say.  This approach keeps me out of trouble, especially when I have strong opinions.  It keeps my mouth shut long enough for my brain to catch up with my emotions and determine the proper way to express my ideas.

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  • Best Birthday Present

    I have a birthday coming up this month.  I’ve never been one to make a big deal out of my birthday, but I do like to do something special to celebrate.  When it comes to presents, I tend to prefer experiences and adventures over physical stuff.  Possessions are, for the most part, tools.  When I ask for stuff it’s either something I need or something I’d like but I wouldn’t pay for myself.

    This past week I reflected back on my best birthday present ever.  It was the Saturday before I turned fifteen.    I had just gotten home from gymnastics practice.  My usual Saturday afternoon routine was to do my homework.  On that day, my parents had other plans.

    Mom:  Go put on jeans and a t-shirt.
    Me:  Why?
    Mom:  Just do it.

    It was a sunny California day and too hot for pants.  But I humored her and got changed.

    Mom:  Get in the car.
    Me:  Why?
    Mom:  Just do it.

    So now I was uncomfortably dressed and being kidnapped.  As we drove out of town, I was severely confused about what was going on.  I was very confused when we arrived at our little local airport.  We went into the airport’s main office and Mom went into the back office, leaving Dad and me in the lobby.

    Me:  What are we doing here?  Am I going skydiving?
    Dad:  No!  Your mother bought you a flying lesson.

    I spent the next hour learning the basics of flying a Cessna airplane.  It was an incredible feeling to have the controls in my hands.  I’ve had other unique adventures including bungee jumping, flying a helicopter, white water rafting, shooting M-16s, taking road trips, hot air ballooning,  and skydiving.  Some of the big adventures on my lifetime to-do list are going to Easter Island, doing a handstand on Antarctica, and completing the coast-to-coast hike across England.

    From all my adventures, I’ve learned that having possessions is nice, but the things that really matter are my experiences and the connections I have with other people.  I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.

  • Twitter – The Untapped Resource for Law Students

    I joined Twitter about 16 months ago.  I originally joined to keep in touch with my friends while I was in Missouri with the U.S. Army JAG last summer.  Since then, it has become one of my primary networking tools.  It is the easiest way I know to start a conversation with someone.  I’m surprised by how few students at my law school are using it.

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    A few months ago, Twitter helped me break the ice with Sam Glover when he spoke at my school.  Recently, it helped me create a connection with Tim Eigo and Arizona Attorney Magazine.  I don’t know how he found me, but he started following me in August and said that he liked this blog.  I went on LinkedIn and the Arizona Bar Association website to confirm his identity and then started a conversation with him.  That led to a lunch and hopefully this is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship.

    Twitter has given me the ability to connect with a vast number of people, entities, and information that I otherwise would not have the time to seek out on my own.  It is the main way that I keep up with developments in the legal profession.  It also helps me stay informed about what my friends, local businesses, and celebrities are doing.

    Online Best Colleges.com and Rasmussen College published their lists for the Top 100 Legal Twitter Feeds.  These are all wonderful people to follow.  Like them, I also want to acknowledge some of my favorite legal people and entities on Twitter who consistently post informative and entertaining content.

    I also want to give props to Erin Biencourt, a 2L at Arizona State University, who is new to Twitter.  She claims that she needs me to give her Twitter lessons because she’s still figuring out how retweets and replies work.  She’s doing better than she realizes because she’s already overcome the biggest hurdle just by becoming part of the conversation.

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