When Betty White was asked how she had managed to be universally beloved during her decades-spanning acting career, she summed up with a dimpled smile: “I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It’s that simple.”
Good communicators build relationships.
White became a role model for how to grow old joyously. “Don’t try to be young,” she told the AP. “Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them.”
Good communicators listen, ask questions and stay curious.
Laugh at Yourself
White’s character in “Hot In Cleveland” was only meant to appear in the pilot episode. She stole the show, became an integral part of the series, and was voted Entertainer of the Year by The Associated Press. “It’s ridiculous,” White said of the honor. “They haven’t caught on to me, and I hope they never do.”
Good communicators admit their own flaws.
Over her 60-year career Betty White won 8 Emmy Awards. She portrayed a man-crazy TV hostess on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”, the loopy housemate on “The Golden Girls,” and an energy-sapped guy getting tackled in a football game aired as a Superbowl commercial. Those were just some of her most recognizable performances.
Good communicators maintain relevance by being adaptable.
Keep At It
About her early work, White recalled, “I did that show (a 1949 local Los Angeles daytime show starring Al Jarvis) 5½ hours a day, six days a week, for 4½ years.” There is no substitute for putting in the hours to enhance your skill set.
Good communicators continue to work at their craft.
I just re-watched Betty White’s opening monologue for her Emmy-award winning turn as host of Saturday Night Live when she was 88 years old. She exudes charm, joy and humor. She makes this comedic 5 minutes look easy. But it isn’t. Underneath her outward presence all of the communication attributes mentioned above come into action. Her years of experience, timing, smile, self-deprecating humor, poise, eye contact, audience rapport = a master performance.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and doesn’t have dimples; BUT she tries to get along with everyone. It’s just that simple.
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© 2021 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved
Photo © Wikimedia Commons; David Shankbone, 2010