When working or living with small children, it always strikes me how communications is brought back to its basics. A 3 year old will certainly not engage in lengthy technical conversations with you (at least not from my experience, let me know if otherwise!).
He/she will screen your face and figure out what you are really thinking and how he/she should react to what you are saying. You will possibly get a simple ‘why’ as a response, repeating itself as you are desperately trying to find answers to all the questions. You might even unintentionally make an angry face and try to say something nice; which might prompt the kid in front of you to be afraid or to scream and you would not even know why.
In short, for me, children are the best teachers. They will test you and hold up a mirror right in front of you, if you want it or not. So, here are at least 6 simple things that you can learn from them
- Communicate in a clear and simple manner; don’t spend time and effort to outline every little detail of your thought. Stick to the important parts of the message.
- Communicate not only verbally but using body language to stress what you are actually saying. Some cultures are pretty good at that; try it out for yourself!
- Be able to laugh about yourself: not only is laughing very healthy but it helps putting everything into the right perspective.
- Always question yourself ‘why’ before asking somebody to do something, it will bring clarity into your own thoughts, i.e. you might want to ask yourself if what you are asking is really a priority or if something else should rather be achieved.
- Listen attentively and with empathy or don’t listen at all; capture the key points of what is said and respond to these. Focus on the person you are listing to and not on what you would have to say about this topic. Other people might have an interesting opinion as well, so it is definitely worth listening.
- Be open and prepared for negative and to what you are saying/the message you are conveying. Constructive feedback is your best bet; it will help you become even more efficient and productive.
Do you have any similar experiences you would want to share? Let me know!