Greg as an infant.
I don’t like how casually people use the terms talent and skill. A talent is something God-given that you are born with. A skill is something that can be learned. Too often people will refer to someone’s musical ability as a talent when it is largely a skill they’ve spent a lifetime developing.

When people refer to something as talent this gives them a bye. They don’t have to develop it themselves because it’s a talent. They are off of the hook. However, if it is a skill, then they are on the hook. They can develop skills just like anybody else and they should.

Greg actively developed his people and social skills, and they were skills, skills he developed and learned. His people and social skills allowed him to assess situations and build rapport with people.

There is one small category of people that this never happened with, a handful only. Sadly, it's only this category that thought he didn't have these skills. I’ll address this subject soon.

I’m going to describe two times that I find particularly compelling that illustrate the extent of Greg’s skills.

Interaction With Powerful Political Figures

Greg on June 30, 1985
I don’t want to reveal too much in this first instance because the individual in question has been/still is a powerful and influential member of a state legislature.

I went looking for Greg once at an event and found him in the company of this state legislator. I instantly recognized what was happening. Greg had completely disarmed the person and was getting the person to open up and talk. Not wanting to short-circuit this process, I quickly left and found a spot to sit down and wait.

I waited quite a while. When it was over, I debriefed Greg. What I suspected was taking place was indeed what took place. Greg had managed to extract an extensive amount of information from this person without revealing anything crucial himself. There was no indication that this person suspected anything.

I also watched Greg do this with a person who eventually became a state governor. This was more of a conflict, but this person was putty in Greg’s hands.

The other person got belligerent, confrontational and emotional. When people do this they are not in control of themselves and they hand control over to someone else. Greg remained calm and in control. It was a marvel to watch.

But, I watched it so many times. I never tired of it and I never took it for granted. Sometimes Greg used his skills on me. Then, it was especially difficult for me to determine exactly what he was doing.

Negotiation and Persuasion

1950: Greg clowning with his sister.
People who are skilled and succeed at negotiations have excellent people and social skills. Greg’s success in negotiating with employees, especially unions (like the UAW), is extensive and well-documented.

Things didn’t just go well. Greg made them go well. Success was not haphazard when he was involved. He was maneuvering everything. Nothing happened by chance when he was present.

Greg was good at persuasion but he never took away anyone’s agency which meant he didn’t always prevail. He respected agency and allowed people to make their own decisions. However, I can’t even count the times I saw people fall all over themselves to do exactly what Greg wanted them to do.

People with limited skills, especially the pushy, brash types probably never clued into the fact that Greg was doing anything at all. They don’t tend to respect people that are quietly and unobtrusively effective.

They would always blow by Greg acting as if he was incompetent and they were the effective ones, oblivious to how he corrected, healed and fixed the mistakes they didn’t even realize they were making. These people are especially dangerous. They think they are so effective when they aren’t, not even close.

The Hospital Charmer

Greg in the last years of his life.
There is one particular time he had a whole roomful of women charmed and he apparently wasn’t even that aware of it. It just came so naturally to him.

He was in the hospital having his last colonoscopy. This was 2018. The colonoscopy came back entirely clean at that time. His cancer reoccurred one year after this event.

There was a new hospital worker being trained to prep and work with the colonoscopy patients and presumably others. She was working a little on her own but being closely watched by her supervisor who was accompanying her everywhere that day. There were a few other workers attending Greg as well, all women.

They all spent a lot of time talking to him. He was obviously such a delightful patient to deal with. I could tell they all really liked him.

Colonoscopy preparation slightly dehydrates the body. The supervisor was having difficulty finding a vein she could insert a needle into that wasn’t too collapsed. She tried a few places on one of his hands. “My other hand is feeling slighted” he told her. She had to stop her work because she was laughing.

After the colonoscopy had concluded and the surgeon had talked with me, Greg was already in his recovery room. The women were surrounding him again. As I put down my purse and other possessions, I heard someone say, “Well, we don’t have any Mountain Dew available on this floor.” Without even straightening up I said, “Oh my goodness, has he requested that already?” This cracked up the room and Greg looked a little guilty.

After we went home, I teased him about what a charmer he’d been. “I was?” he asked, obviously surprised.

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