Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Powerful Communication Skills: The Late James Lilley—Unquestionably One of America’s Most Articulate

In recent days, there’s been many a commentary on the airwaves lionizing James R. Lilley, former U.S. ambassador to China and South Korea, who died earlier this month. For me, his passing away is a deep personal loss. You see, Mr. Lilley was perhaps the most articulate American public figure, and therefore a source of great inspiration to me. His communication skills were unmatched and unrivaled. His use of simple but powerful verbal and nonverbal techniques--the type I discuss in my seminars and coaching--was exemplary. For instance, note the flow of synonyms--a defining trait of articulate people--in the following example taken from a 2001 interview during which he urged China to publish President Bush’s letter written to the widow of a Chinese pilot in the wake of the famous EP-3 surveillance-plane incident off Hainan Island. "I hope they publish it because their language has been attacking, strident, virulent, whereas Bush looks sympathetic, calm." No surprise that whenever U.S. relations with China or with either of the two Koreas were in the limelight, Mr. Lilley was the preferred guest on radio and TV.

James Lilley was one of my heroes. I seriously doubt that I’ll see the likes of him during the remainder of my life.

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