Really, Betty? Really??

by Betty Lochner on May 31, 2011

I’ve been thinking of my sweet Auntie Thea lately. About how she was able to get me to talk about things I really didn’t want to talk about. And, how she got me to fess up to the truth, throw my cousin under the bus, or share some secret I didn’t think I would ever share.  It was her gift.

How did she do it?  She did it by making me feel very special.  After I would say something,  anything, such as “school is going fine, Auntie Thea”, she would say “Really, Betty?” and then add with emphasis and great eye contact another “realllllly?” just for good measure. She would say it as if I had just said the most interesting and profound statement ever. Then she would say, “tell me more”, or, “why is that?”, or, “you poor thing”.

I would get so caught up in her interest in me and what I had to say that I would say more than I ever bargained for.  She made me feel safe when I  talked to her and made me want to open up.  I could feel it happening, and it just couldn’t be stopped.  That’s how powerful of a personal communicator she was.  And, it wasn’t just me she had this power over.  It was everyone she came across.  The mailman, the neighbor, the butcher.  Sometimes people would avoid conversing with her, because we knew that she would get us to spill something we hadn’t planned on. We would congratulate each other if we had a visit with her and managed to escape the great inquisition from her.

By the way, the picture here is me with my cousin Lisa, Auntie Thea’s only child. She inherited a bit of her mother’s safe and inquisitive nature, but none could compare to her mom, the master inquisitor.

So, what can we learn from her?  It’s simple, really. Take the time to be genuinely interested to those around you. You never know what you might learn by creating a safe and caring communication environment. Really.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of  Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:

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1 Jody Hornbrook June 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I loved Auntie Thea. She was the most persistent person I ever met. And she did genuinely care. It drove us nuts sometimes but you always knew she loved us and truly cared. She made you stop and think about things. Once you got it out with her it wasn’t as hard to share with someone else. We were special from day one and I will always treasure “Jody days” when we got to go to A & W because we accomplished something fantastic like tying our shoes. I miss you Auntie Thea!

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