To be successful in managing/leading a family or a team, a very important thing is to be able to talk things out properly – problems, wishes or simply emotions. So here I go, and share some of the situations from home which allow me to develop stronger communication skills.
Part 2: Communication skills
Situation 1: ranting and raving
One afternoon, my daughter came home from preschool; moody, grumpy, hungry, ranting and raving about anything.
Possible ways to react would be:
- Become angry and yell back. That’s the easiest.
- Try to nail down the problem. That’s difficult and time consuming.
I tried patiently to nail down the why without getting angry and grumpy as well. In the end I didn’t get down to the reason, I think not even she herself knew why she was upset.
This very evening we had a feedback meeting with her teachers where I learned that my daughter was working on a very difficult task. Without asking for help, she had worked on it intensely for a very long time. Obviously, this brain work needed a lot of energy, resulting in hunger and tiredness.
Situation 2: debates
Once I heard terrible debating from the play room. I separated the two fighters and consulted both parties what the debate was about. While my son was mad because his zoo was about to be destroyed, my daughter was missing her favorite animal: the baby giraffe (unfortunately part of the zoo scenery).
Again, there are different ways to react:
- If it is worth: explain and argue to get what you want.
- If arguing takes more expenses than income: give in and adapt.
The kids worked out a compromise and agreed that my daughter could play with the giraffe in the zoo.
Situation 3: hands-on fights
The worst case – which hopefully never occurs at work – are hands-on battles. Fighting. When all participants feel victimized, and the situation ends up in physical action, it is very hard for me to stay calm and neutral.
There are different possible ways to react:
- Fight. Taking classes in martial arts is strongly recommended.
- Discuss the feelings and make all people involved in a fight understand and respect each other. A degree in psychology is of advantage.
To keep harmony at home is a difficult task and very time consuming: settle disputes, explain who meant what in which way, and provide possible ways to solve interpersonal conflicts. This does not only need high attention for what is happening around me, but I also have to communicate to different developmental stages due to age difference – to translate, so to say.
Messages to transfer to the work setting for improved communication skills:
- Listen carefully and stay objective.
- Nail down an issue properly to avoid misunderstandings. Is a task well defined? Are things unclear? Uncertainties will lead to insecurity and frustration. This in turn will make communication more stressful. So take time to explain yourself clearly, don’t assume that your counterpart knows what you need or how you feel.
- Specify and respect a person’s priority in a given issue; it may be totally different for you than for your co-worker.
- Do not take a certain way of communication personally – it could be that your communication partner is hungry, tired, in pain, or from a different culture. Even people from different regions of Switzerland have different ways of saying things. Seriously! For example, a simple ‘Hi’ translates to ‘Grüess ech’ (Ich Grüsse Euch) in Bern, whereas in Zurich it is ‘Grüezi’ (Ich Grüsse Sie). In former times, when proper form was still of high importance, a Bernese greeting someone in Zurich in her dialect was considered offensive.
The working climate has a great impact on performance – be it at work or at home. So let’s try to understand each other.