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A small piece of advice given to me by a distant great aunt when I was a young teenager. This was forgotten for maybe 12 years until Tuesday when I read those words in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

At first glance, this seems a straightforward maxim. However, in a recent conversation I tried to put it into practice. I decided not to be a geek and measure out the proportions of speech in the conversation, I just relaxed and concentrated on what people were saying. I wondered about the motivation people had for a certain comment. I tried to appreciate the feelings of the girl who was shut off by an Alpha Geek's comment. The discussion turned into a typical argument about COM/MS/.NET vs Free Software/Web/Lightweight programming. I wasn't drawn into the argument as I normally would; I simply put in some choice comments that were backed up by factual evidence.

While the Seven Habits book reminded me of this advice, it was the memory of my great aunt taking me seriously as a snotty 13 year old and really talking to me that has made this advice really sink in. Thank you for talking to me, great aunt Valerie, I am sorry I didn't put your advice into action before now.

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