Paul Jones: Who, or what, taught you the most about communication, Jim?
Jim Bolton: I grew up in a family where communication was the family business; my dad wrote his best-selling book People Skills when I was a teenager. He half-jokingly says he wrote it to figure out how to deal with me. I’ve also had a number of great mentors along the way who taught me how to connect with others in a meaningful, authentic way. These days, it’s my teenage daughters who keep me honest.
PJ: Nature or nurture? Can people learn to be great communicators, or must you be born that way?
JB: Without any scientific basis, I’d say 90% nurture. Communication is about tuning into others. This comes easier for some people. The same is true with athletes or musicians; some start with better talents and abilities. But that doesn’t predetermine greatness. The greats work at being great. Through learning and continued practice, anyone can become a highly skilled communicator.
PJ: What makes someone an extraordinary communicator? What characteristics, personality traits, experiences or otherwise ‘add up’ to make them so?