Three Work Expectations My Children Taught me
The Importance of Saying Exactly What you Mean
I am quite sarcastic, to the point that sometimes adults aren't sure if I'm serious or not. When I was a kid I got in the habit of ending almost every sentence with "just kidding" because my parents honestly believed the sarcasm I spouted.
While I'm still sarcastic I have curbed my tongue significantly since having children. Why? Well, first it confuses the hell out of them. Everything in a child's world is factual and straightforward. Throw sarcasm at a child and they will cry (trust me, I learned this the hard way).
This made me realize that when we are introduce to new people they too are like children, they don't know the first thing about us and sarcasm is best left at the door so your first impression isn't as a raving lunatic. Bottom line, it isn't professional.
Takeaway: Say what you mean, you never know who you could be offending. Wait to get to know people before using sarcasm.
The Importance of Caring
I used to be the type of person with a million ideas brewing before 8AM. The minute I fired up my laptop I was shooting emails off left and right for data, action items, details and reports. You may be wondering why I'm talking about this in a negative light. Let me give you an example.
Please send me the On-Time Shipping Report with your findings ASAP.
That's literally what I used to send people! Doesn't that sound like I'm angry? I never stopped to think about the tone I was throwing out in the world. I probably ruined poor Sally's morning with this urgent angry note when really I was simply excited.
Enter children. Try barking orders at children and see how far you get. They don't yet understand silent hatred (that I'm sure Sally is now feeling for me) and will outright cry instead.
Respecting your employees' time and caring about their needs is key just as it is with children. With this in mind, let's revisit an email I would have sent after children.
How was your weekend? Did the girls trip go as planned? I bet you had a blast.
I had a crazy idea this morning for a project to reinvent our on-time shipping methodology and wanted to bring you in on it as you're an expert. Could you stop by my desk so I can pick your brain on this topic? We could create some magic here!
This is literally how I talk to people, it may not be your style and that's fine but now Sally understands how much I value her.
Takeaway: Adults and children need to understand how much they are valued. Encourage before rushing in with demands.
The Importance of Detail
Let's continue with my amazingly horrible first email to Sally. This type of email would also scare Sally so badly she wouldn't feel comfortable asking questions about my vague note. I then would be upset when she sent me half baked information not at all related to what I was looking for.
Another thing about children, they love and need detail. They need the why, the how and the what otherwise they will be lost as to what you're asking. "Stop that" is my favorite parenting vagary. You've just told your kid to stop what they were doing with no clue as to what they are supposed to be doing instead. It's almost like you've started a game of freeze tag to a child. Be Specific!
Going back to the 2nd email example, Sally receives more insight as to why the information is needed. Just like children adults need to see understand the end game to provide the right responses.
With my children I find myself saying things like "I'm afraid you're going to break your arm doing that, why don't we sit on the floor and play a game". (This doesn't always work, my son is destined for broken limbs but I can at least say I tried.)
Takeaway: Be as specific as possible on what outcome you are looking for and why.