This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.

Photo by Jessica Earle, 2005.

In my last tip about influencing a skeptical audience I promised more on that topic. Life events intervened in the meantime, so this week’s tip is dedicated to my dear mom who passed away on June 18 at the extraordinary age of 94. Here’s a recap of three prior tips that feature the things I’ve learned either from her, or through her, about relationship building.

  • What my mom taught me about business development (May 2015). Mom was pretty much old school about pretty much everything. She was 94, after all. And as a former professional dancer, the corporate world was far from familiar territory. But she surely knew and practiced some fundamentals about how to acknowledge and connect with people. Case in point: When I was little, she insisted that I send a hand-written note any time I received a gift. I hated doing it. Decades later I’m ever grateful to her for having me do something so many times that it’s now easy and comfortable. Why? Because a hand-written note is a striking differentiator in today’s low-touch, technology-driven world.

Find out more about how to make the most of this practice in your business life.

You might also be interested in a related post citing a study in the journal Psychological Science that suggests we can all benefit from a variation of what Mom taught me: a simple email of gratitude that takes on average five minutes or less to write. If only we would get past our misguided assumptions and our egocentric bias.

  • How perspective (and a Post-it®) can make you a better professional (September 2017). This post was inspired by the time then-90-year-old Mom broke her wrist. When we discovered one weekday that was thought to be just a bruise was more significant, my first reaction was self-oriented and panic driven. Then perspective arrived on the scene, and upon reflection I remembered some important links between having perspective and being more grounded, more present, and more focused—essential traits for trust-building.

Find out more about a simple technique I reprised that day which can help you find perspective any time, and in mere moments.

  • A critical influence lesson inspired by Mom (January 2020). Interactions with Mom over the 2019/2020 holidays reminded me of a critical influence lesson—what a mentor once labeled, “Being committed, not attached.”

Mom never liked to be rushed or pressured, and she liked it even less as it took her longer and longer to get moving. More than once, when Mom felt compelled to do something in the afternoon or evening—like gather with family for our big Christmas Eve celebration—she’d call in the morning to cancel. When I was able to back off and give her time and space to decline (far easier written than done), inevitably she’d later revisit her choice.

Read more about how this is just as true for buyers and clients as it is for mothers.

Make It Real

This week, send three hand-written notes of thanks or appreciation.

Tips: I like to have a stack of assorted stationary on hand in my office. I also tuck a few blank note cards into my laptop bag. They’re a great way to fill time when you’re waiting—for a person, a meal, or an airplane.

Learn More

Learn more about the difference gratitude makes from our friends at Trusted Advisor Associates, or read a story of how a hand-written note sealed a deal in Chapter 11 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

You made a difference for so many, sweet mama (known by others as Nicole Wolf). May you rest in peace.



The following two tabs change content below.

Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).