When you talk to your kids, do you ever feel like a character in a Far Side cartoon? Remember the one where the woman says to her dog, "You stay off the furniture, Ginger, or else! You hear me, Ginger?..." What they hear: "Blah blah blah GINGER blah blah GINGER?" Why does so much of what I say seem to fall on deaf ears?
I don't have the answer but I have a strong suspicion it has more to do with my mouth than my children's idiosyncratic ears. As a leadership consultant, I'm struck by how people listen up when the best leaders speak. What do they do that inspires listening? I came up with two critical behaviors I'm going to take to heart.
1. Good leaders say what they mean.
I can take a lesson here. For instance, one day Leah, my eight year old, said to me, "Mom, why do you say 'we're leaving' and then talk and talk instead of leaving?" Makes perfect sense that when mom says, we're leaving, may as well tune out because the first three times, it's as good as blah blah blah.
Ok, but what about when I say, "Time to take out the recycling" and I really mean it?
2. Good leaders delegate with a higher purpose.
After I've asked (a.k.a. nagged) five times, I erupt or do it myself. I suspect that doesn't count as skillful delegation. When I remember chores are about more than the recycling, they're about teaching responsibility, about shaping a family culture in which everyone contributes, suddenly my chore, (delegating chores) seems like less of a chore. "Anna, time to take out the recycling or you're going to go to bed without a heightened sense of social responsibility."