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Kindness may be No. 1 skill for career success

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2019 high school graduate Jessica Lynn Erickson is the daughter of columnist Paula Burkes.
2019 high school graduate Jessica Lynn Erickson is the daughter of columnist Paula Burkes.

When my daughter Jess was in the fourth grade, I got choked up in a parent-teacher conference. All it took was her teacher calling Jess “kind,” and suddenly I was teary.

Truth is, I’ve been sappy about being Jess’ mother since the day she was born. After several miscarriages, I mourned that motherhood would elude me until, through the miracle of adoption, I was given the greatest gift ever. I’ve cherished every day — and stage — since, even as a single mom these past 11 years.

These days, I’m hypersensitive, as Jess graduates from Edmond Memorial High School on May 18.

I recently was reminded that my daughter indeed is growing up — and is still kind. When I was laid up with a monster head cold, Jess had soup delivered to me. Awwww.

Sentimentality aside, kindness is the one real-world skill that may matter most to high school and college graduates’ career success, according to Susan Mangiero, Trumbull, CT-based author of “The Big Squeeze: Hugs & Inspirations for Every Grown-Up Who Loves Teddy Bears.”

"Being a kind and compassionate person who can listen, connect and empathize is what really matters in the modern work world," said Mangiero, a former financial services professional who consults with companies on their relationship-building skills.

Grads, so they can nurture others, should practice being kind to themselves, from treating themselves to daily cups of tea to easing up on punishing self-talk following performance evaluations and more, Mangiero said.

"Make time to play or enjoy a hobby,” she said. Volunteering also keeps you humble and kind, she said, and looks great on a résumé.

Oklahoma City business consultant Mike Crandall of Sandler Training agrees.

“Most great things in life and our journeys are connected to people and the relationships we have — or don’t have,“ Crandall said. “Graduates should use this time to build, nurture and develop these."

Crandall recommends graduates send thank you notes to gift givers and anyone, including teachers, counselors, parents and coaches, who helped them on their journeys.

Meanwhile, he advises grads to have both Facebook and LinkedIn pages, but to use social media wisely.

“Most employers and colleges use it as a first step to see if they should look further into a person,” he said.

As always, my tribe — of high school, college, work and church friends — offered bonus advice, including:

• Never shun a challenge.

• Failing is OK and part of the process.

• Sometimes honey is better than vinegar. Sometimes acid is better than honey. Learn to know the difference.

• Be a good friend and a good listener. Get accountability partners. Be open to differences in others, willing to help others and to get off your screen and look at the world.

• Love God and love others as you love yourself. And, finally:

• Never miss a good opportunity to shut up!

Congratulations, Jess, and all 2019 graduates!

Related Photos
<strong>Susan Mangiero is the author of “The Big Squeeze: Hugs & Inspirations for Every Grown-Up Who Loves Teddy Bears.”</strong>

Susan Mangiero is the author of “The Big Squeeze: Hugs & Inspirations for Every Grown-Up Who Loves Teddy Bears.”

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-b3a4477f941550fb351c297ef73ce205.jpg" alt="Photo - Susan Mangiero is the author of “The Big Squeeze: Hugs &amp; Inspirations for Every Grown-Up Who Loves Teddy Bears.” " title=" Susan Mangiero is the author of “The Big Squeeze: Hugs &amp; Inspirations for Every Grown-Up Who Loves Teddy Bears.” "><figcaption> Susan Mangiero is the author of “The Big Squeeze: Hugs &amp; Inspirations for Every Grown-Up Who Loves Teddy Bears.” </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c19196a43b2f639982cca0b3a6622af3.jpg" alt="Photo - Mike Crandall is principal of Sandler Training of Oklahoma. " title=" Mike Crandall is principal of Sandler Training of Oklahoma. "><figcaption> Mike Crandall is principal of Sandler Training of Oklahoma. </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d2caa72ccf6fa6304f0dad5c61b6b0c4.jpg" alt="Photo - 2019 high school graduate Jessica Lynn Erickson is the daughter of columnist Paula Burkes. " title=" 2019 high school graduate Jessica Lynn Erickson is the daughter of columnist Paula Burkes. "><figcaption> 2019 high school graduate Jessica Lynn Erickson is the daughter of columnist Paula Burkes. </figcaption></figure>
Paula Burkes

A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma... Read more ›

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