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14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

When I was younger, I thought being a dad was pretty easy. As I grew up, I realized what an amazing man my father is, because he made such a difficult job look like a walk in the park. While as of yet I have no experience in fatherly ways, I’ve learned from the best, so in that respect I feel qualified to explain some of the reasons great fathers are, well…great.

1. They listen to their children.

I don’t just mean they let their kids chat away while smiling and nodding. Anyone can do that. A great father will dive into the silly story his son is telling about some cartoon, creating conversational points around a topic he would not be talking about at all if it wasn’t with his own child. He’ll also be there for the tough conversations when his children need a shoulder to cry on, and be ready with actionable advice on how to move forward. Great fathers know their kids inside and out, because they’ve spent their parenthood listening to what their children have to say.

2. They’re interested in their children’s interests.

The best fathers take a genuine interest in what their children like to do. All fathers would absolutely love it if their children took up similar hobbies, but great dads let their kids pursue their own interests. Not only do they let their kids follow their own dreams, but great fathers also become interested in these dreams as well. They seek out information about their children’s hobbies on their own time, so they can spend more quality time with their kids. Great fathers take time away from their own interests in favor of watching their children thrive.

3. They care deeply.

They don’t just act as a shoulder to cry on, either. Amazing fathers preoccupy themselves with their children’s well-being, and take their kids’ burdens on themselves. Their mood depends on their children’s. How can they enjoy themselves if they know their kid is upset? On the other hand, on their worst days, how can a father be upset when he sees how happy his children are? Not only do great fathers care about their own family, but they also care for everyone, and everything, around them as well.

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4. They show they care deeply.

The best fathers drop the stoic act immediately, and only seldom pick it back up. My favorite part of A Christmas Story is the look on the father’s face when Ralphie finally gets that Red Ryder BB Gun. Throughout the whole movie, you got the feeling his father was a strict, no-nonsense type of guy—that is, until you see how happy he is to have made his son so ecstatic. The mark of a great father is the ability to let down his guard, and show his children just how much he cares.

5. They help their kids find the answers to their questions.

I’ll never forget this moment, and whenever I think about it I hope that this man was an uncle or relative without any kids of his own: At a local destruction derby event (which I was at for some reason I can’t remember), a young child behind me kept asking questions about the trucks and cars on the field. The adult with him eventually said “You sure do ask a lot of questions,” and that was the last time I heard the child speak.

If I was in that man’s shoes, I would have immediately taken the child’s hand, brought him down to the pit area, and found a friendly mechanic to answer those innumerable questions the boy had. By doing so, a father can not only get the answers his kid is looking for, but teach his child how to find answers when they aren’t sure of them.

6. They let their children’s imagination thrive.

Just like a father should guide their children toward the answers for questions they may have, he should also allow his child to spend time in wonderment. Remarking that a child is “just being silly” will shut them off to their own imagination, which at one point they may never recover. On the other hand, a father who provides a cardboard box, scissors, tape, and paint to their child will be absolutely amazed at what his kid can come up with in a short period of time. Great fathers provide endless opportunities for their children to expand their minds.

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7. They read, and read to their children.

One day when I was six years old, I ran into my parents bedroom at 6:30 in the morning crying because I had just read that Dr. Seuss had died. I was six. And I habitually read the morning paper. I’ll give you one guess where I picked up that habit from. Although my mother was usually the one to read a bedtime story to me, my father has always read the morning paper, and could always be caught reading a sports or fishing magazine throughout his day off. By doing so, he modeled the importance of reading for a variety of purposes to his (incredibly amazing) children every day of his life.

8. They handle the dirty work.

I’m sure my wife will hold me to this when we have kids in a few years, but here it goes: great fathers have no qualms about changing diapers, cleaning up vomit, or handling any type of grossness related to their children. They can look past the disgusting bodily fluids and know that not only are they helping their beloved wives, but they’re also bonding with their babies.

Cut forward about 12 years. Great fathers will also be able to talk to their growing children about adolescence, and have all the difficult “chats” that come up around that age. Again, while it might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, awesome fathers will push past the discomfort knowing that it will benefit their children in the long run.

9. They exhibit self-control.

Super dads never lose control. They might be seething, upset, or even frightened on the inside, but great fathers never let their kids know it. They deal with issues in as calm and collected a manner as possible, and keep their negative feelings to themselves knowing that a break in their armor could lead their children to even worse fright. Fathers who act this way are the reason children brag about them to their friends: their fathers’ actions have allowed them to truly think their dad is the most amazing person in the entire world.

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10. They put away childish things.

Becoming a father means losing a part of yourself, while gaining a lot more. It’s no longer acceptable to go out to the bar with your friends until question mark o’clock. It’s no longer an option to spend Saturday afternoon in your underwear watching ESPN. And it’s definitely not okay to blast Sublime in your car on the first day of summer anymore.

But, the best fathers know that there is no point in drinking until you can’t stand up when you could be watching over your child as he sleeps peacefully. They would rather get up and go fishing at six a.m. than stay in bed until ten. They would rather see their kid dance in the backseat to some silly kids’ song than blow out their eardrums listening to SoCal ska. The best fathers know that letting go of a past life can lead to bigger and better things.

11. They put others before themselves.

Okay, I have to use my own father as an example again. Every year for Christmas, he’d always joke that “this year would be the year he got that bass boat.” He easily could have gone out and bought a boat at any given time throughout my childhood, but it would have been at the expense of a family vacation, or a few years’ worth of “just because” presents for his children and wife. That never mattered to him. Being a great father, he constantly put his own interests on the back burner, in favor of his family members’ happiness. (By the way, he finally bought one a few years ago :-D)

12. They provide for their families.

The greatest fathers aren’t the billionaires who can buy whatever their kids want. They’re not the ones who can fly their family to the Bahamas every winter for two weeks. I’m not saying those who can do these things aren’t great fathers—just that these examples aren’t the only great fathers out there.

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The man who works two jobs so his family can eat; the man who works the graveyard shift but manages to pick his kid up from school every day; the man who hates his boss but goes to work with a smile every day so his family has a roof over their head—these are the great fathers. The ones that know that no matter what hardship their going through, they’d rather go through them than see their family suffer.

13. They’re always there when needed.

We talked about dads being a shoulder to cry on, but there’s more to it than that. Great fathers will absolutely drop whatever they’re doing to support their children. He just lay down after a hard day’s work, and his kid needs a ride to soccer practice? No problem. His boss asks if he could stay late on the day of his daughter’s recital? No can do. Even if he knows he won’t be able to get a nap in later, or that his boss will be on his case tomorrow, a great father never disappoints his children, no matter what.

14. They truly want all of it.

The best fathers know there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than everything involved in being a father. No amount of money, possessions, nor any other accomplishment can mean more than raising a son or daughter that you can be proud of. He may have to change who he is, but he welcomes the change with open arms. The best fathers have waited for the day they became a dad since they were young, and have simply been waiting for the right moment.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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