I am always amazed at how often there is a crossover between the things my wife and I speak with our kids about, and the conversations that come up in my work with clients. The context and the vocabulary is usually pretty different. But the essence of the discussions are usually the same.
So, just for fun, I have been keeping a running list of lessons and reminders we regularly share with our children. And over the last several weeks, here are some of the ones that I wrote down:
- Always show gratitude when someone does something nice for you. You will never go wrong saying “thank you.”
- If one of your friends has another idea, different from yours, listen. Everyone can have a good idea.
- When someone is speaking to you, listen to them. Look them in the eye.
- When you are speaking to someone, look them in the eye.
- Share with others, even if it does not always feel comfortable.
- If someone needs help, help them.
These are from real conversations with both our children, but especially our kindergartener. We see these kinds of lessons in every parenting book we look at, and these are the things that we want our kids to have as part of their social foundation. We also want them to be advocates for themselves, and stand their ground when necessary. But we want them to lead with kindness, generosity and empathy.
So now let’s change our focus from raising our kids, to the ways in which we conduct ourselves in our workplace. Because these kinds of lessons often get lost when we transition from thinking about our home lives to our professional lives.
I spend a large percentage of my daytime hours in workshops and coaching assignments with professionals from a variety of industries. And every single day, I see smart, well-educated, successful, professionals doing the following:
- Showing no gratitude, and acting like people should be doing things for them;
- Shutting down or ignoring any idea that didn’t come from inside their own head;
- Not listening, and allowing distracted multi-tasking to be their default;
- Looking off into space and speaking in a totally impersonal way with no connection to the audience;
- Not sharing — credit, resources, time, perspective, etc;
- And being so focused on their own opportunities and their own “stuff” that they fail (or refuse) to help a colleague in need.
The things we teach our kids are very often the exact same lessons we need to remind ourselves of in the workplace. And while there are many differences between our parenting and professional lives, there are also plenty of similarities.
It’s funny, in a way, and not so funny in some others. But the basic lessons about how to conduct oneself in the workplace are not complicated. And they aren’t new. The principles come down to the same things that we learned as children, starting from our earliest days in school.
This blog is about workplace communication, and The Latimer Group’s business focus is about how we make ourselves more effective and persuasive. But before we get to any of the other tools, skills or mindsets that we will need, we should start with the basic foundation of how we treat the people around us. When we start with the foundation of strong interpersonal behaviors, then everything else becomes that much more powerful.
Which is exactly what we teach our kids.
Have a great day.
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