Three Tips for Becoming More Interpersonally Competent

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

The other day, I received an article written by Karen Wheeler Hall compliments of David Ricklan.  It was part of David’s 101 Great Ways: Articles From Experts.  In the article, Karen told the story of Steven List, and how, after a heart attack, his core philosophy became “treat every person and every day as if it might be your last.” 

Stephen is a professional speaker.  One of his signature talks is “Steven’s Three Commandments,” which are:

1. Don’t wait until tomorrow to say I love you. 
2. Don’t wait until tomorrow to say I’m sorry. 
3. Don’t wait until tomorrow to say thank you.

This is some great common sense advice for becoming an interpersonally competent person. 

If you love (or like) someone, tell them.  People like positive reinforcement, and being told that they are loved (or at least liked) is the best form of positive reinforcement I know.  When I was a freshman at Penn State, one of the local jewelry stores had a promotion.  When you bought something at the store, they gave you a red button with white letters that read “I Am Loved,” to give to your boyfriend or girlfriend along with the gift you purchased at the store.  An interesting thing happened.  These buttons proved to be more of a hit than a lot of the gifts people actually purchased.  Everybody wanted one.  You might like the piece of jewelry you were given as a gift, but only you and a few of your friends knew what it was and who gave it to you.  An “I Am Loved” button was something you could wear every day.  It was an outward sign that at least one person really cared about you.  These buttons because so popular that the store started giving them away to anyone who asked because it was great advertising.

Speaking of love, I’ll take my own advice.  Today is my  16th wedding anniversary, and I just want to say I LOVE YOU, CATHY!

Apologies are powerful.  It takes a strong person to admit that he or she was wrong, and to then apologize.  But believe me, the person to whom you apologize will really appreciate it.  I’ve told the story before about the time I repeated a rumor about another person – and got caught.  The next day, I apologized to the person to whom I had repeated the rumor and the person about whom I had repeated the rumor.  They were shocked.  Both said, “You don’t have to do this.”  I said, “Yes I do.  I was wrong.  I repeated a rumor that could have been hurtful.”  Both of those people became good friends and clients.  I’m sure that my apology had a lot to do with building these relationships.

The same is true for thank you.  All too often, we act as if we expect people to do things for us.  We take them for granted.  One of my clients has a great admin.  She is efficient, helpful, and most important pleasant.  When I thank her for helping me, I always get the same response; “No problem.”  The other day, I said “Anytime I thank you, you always say the same thing, ‘No problem’.  I know that it may be no problem for you to help me out, but I know that I would have big problems if it weren’t for your help.”  She was a little embarrassed and said, “I’m just doing my job.”  I said, “I know, but you do it well, and I really appreciate it.”  She smiled and said “Thanks.  That’s really nice of you to say.”

Some people, like this woman, are embarrassed by hearing the words “Thank you.”  Don’t let this stop you, because deep down inside, we all like to be appreciated.

The common sense point for today.  Follow Steven List’s three commandments:

1. Don’t wait until tomorrow to say I love you. 
2. Don’t wait until tomorrow to say I’m sorry. 
3. Don’t wait until tomorrow to say thank you.

If you do, you’ll become an interpersonally competent person; one who builds and maintains strong relationships with the people in your life.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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