Children are truly our best teachers… we think we teach them but what they teach us is far more valuable at times…

In the update section of Director magazine there’s a section called jargon buster and recently the definition was for herding cats – ‘a task onerous due to the difficulty of co-ordinating many disparate people or things.” Have to say that I hadn’t thought of it as jargon but every day language but I’m sure there are times that you have experienced such situations. And this week whilst on aunty duty it’s been a bit like that when looking after my 9 year old nephew.

And whilst he’s been teaching me how to use my iPad, I’ve had it for 2 years but he clearly knows how to use it better than I do. I’m sure the ability of each generation to use technology almost innately, and better than previous generations, is due to morphic resonance, it started with video recorders, moved on to DVD players and smart phones and now its using tablets. If you haven’t read about morphic resonance then check out Rupert Sheldrake – there’s some interesting stuff there about how your dog knows you are coming home too.

Strategy for Strategies

But my nephew has also taught me much more too; I’ve found myself using active listening when talking to him this week – more than I usually would. Active listening is where you listen to what you are saying as opposed to just saying it and makes us far more conscious of the words we use and is a great way of removing ums and errs as we speak.

So when talking to him I’ve been more conscious of my language and language patterns. You know how when you notice a child doing something a more long winded or an awkward way and you want to help them? Well I don’t know about you but often without thinking of the impact of my words I’d say ‘don’t do it like that do it like this’ and guess what it immediately creates tension because it sounds as if I’m telling him off even if the tone of my voice is softer.

If instead I said ‘I wonder if we did it like this would we get a higher score in the game’ or ‘ if we did this it might be easier to keep your balance for longer’ etc… Then what I said wouldn’t just immediately be heard as criticism. In changing the words and the format of the sentence then advice would be heard so differently and is likely to be heard for what it is and more likely to be explored. And as they explore and learn for themselves and can see it makes a difference they become more open to suggestions in the future.

Very simple but in that moment we often use shorthand when a little more explanation and simple reframing can make all the difference in the world. And make things more interesting and fun too.

And that got me to thinking how often in the workplace and business we effectively are saying to someone ‘my way is better and don’t do it like that do it like this’. When if we were to reframe what we are saying then what we have to say will be heard so differently. I’m sure there are times when you know that you have to ‘pitch’ an idea to someone in a way that they think it was theirs and so more likely to act on it. Well this is similar to that – reframing the suggestion so the benefit is clear and its done in a way that will resonate with the person.

And you know what it makes the conversation much easier for all parties too so it’s a win win all ways round.

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