Positive Discipline workshop

Photo Reportage of a SoSooper Workshop with INSEAD Alumni

Do you face challenging behaviors or difficult people in your life?

“All the world is queer (odd) save thee and me,
and even thou art a little queer (weird).” – Robert Owen

Relationships are tough and take work. 

It’s true for everyone…whether you have an MBA from INSEAD or graduated from the school of Street Smart or are too young for studies.  Little issues escalate into big annoyances.

  • Your manager “bosses” around, imposing demands without seeking your input
  • Your colleagues are on the phone during your presentations
  • Your partner treats you like a child, “Don’t forget to______”
  • Your child repeatedly misbehaves…. again!!

There are two ways to handle such situations.

Either one party wins and the other loses (Win-Lose “negotiations”)….

Or no-one loses, and everyone gains. (Win-Win results)

It’s sooooo much easier said than done.  That’s why I lead workshops to transmit skills to transform challenges into opportunities for growth for everyone.

Science-Based Relationship Tools

How does one travel from challenges to opportunities?  With relationship tools.  You and I tend to use the same tools over and again.

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

The SoSooper workshops teach an array of relationship-building tools which build mutual respect, a sense of belonging, and the desire to positively contribute to the group.

These science-based tools are based on the work of Dr. Alfred Adler (author of Individual Psychology), Dr. Jane Nelsen (PhD in Education) and psychologist Lynn Lott.  Nelsen and Lott designed the Positive Discipline approach of learning activities which engage the mind, body, and emotions

Photo Reportage of our Interactive Learning Workshop

These INSEAD alumni participated in the conference, Introduction to Positive Discipline for Parents.  I lead numerous workshops for very different audiences, especially for groups of professionals.  With a team of other trainers, we adapt the strong relationship principles to the organizational context.

Discover Also: SoSooper Workshops & Conferences for Teams at Work

Enjoy this glimpse of our event!

Welcome & Context

When speaking with parents who are also professionals, I introduce parenting as leadership development.  We aim to bring up children who will sooner than later be someone’s colleagues.   We also deeply desire that our kids be leaders of their life, that they have the skills and capabilities to thrive.

Notice on the photos how the group is fully attentive.  No phones in sight!

INSEAD alumni at Positive Discipline conference

Inviting Contribution

As humans, we each have the fundamental needs to belong and to contribute.  I put this into practice as of the start, inviting the group to contribute with chores to make our evening conference flow smoothly.  We made a list of Jobs (scribe, clean up, photographer…).  Once the list completed, I invited folk to volunteer for a task.

Silence!

One of the principles of Adlerian Psychology and Positive Discipline is to be FIRM and KIND simultaneously.  The group presented me with the opportunity to model that behavior.

Smile.  “These Jobs still apply and we still need volunteers for each.  Who would like to choose what?” Wait expectantly.

One by one, people stepped up to contribute.  Thanks to each of you.

Oftentimes when a leader assigns a job to someone else, there remains a follow-up period.  It’s like selling the need to do the work. This happens in the office as well as in the home.  Since people volunteered, there was no more need for a convince-to-do-the-job effort.

Engaging group at SoSooper workshop

Set the GPS

Next, as a group, we created two lists.  In our case, we focused on behaviors related to our children.  In a professional context we would focus on behaviors and goals for our team culture:

  • Challenging behaviors of our children
  • Talents & Life Skills we want them to develop

No need to prompt with these.  Suggestions flow, and fast.  Difficult behaviors include perpetual negotiation, defiance, rivalry…  Capabilities to develop include self-esteem, autonomy, desire for excellence, sense of humor….

These lists represent our GPS.  The challenges represent our starting position, today’s situation.  These issues create the invitation to act differently so that, instead of reacting to misbehavior, we proactively train in appropriate conduct and demeanor.

Setting GPS at Positive Discipline workshop

Discovering a Tool

Much of the learning is done by allowing participants to discover the perspective of the other party, in this case, of their child.

Each of the fifty relationship tools presented in my full training programs is presented through a unique interactive exercise which, like this one, engages the whole person.  Instead of theory, participants discover the learning principles for themselves.  “Aha!”

Act 1

In this activity, ten folk played the role of parents and one father played the role of a child.  The “parents” gave the “child” instructions.

“Put your shoes on.” “Brush your teeth.” “Put the phone down.” “Stop fighting with your brother.”…

I love to see how parents enjoy these scenarios.

After this first passage, we debrief the “child” and discover that these instructions encouraged him towards the CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS, like defiance and resistance!

INSEAD alumni at Positive Discipline workshop

Act 2

We embark on a second passage.  This time “parents” present their request through a Firm and Kind question“Do you want to put your blue or your red shoes?” “What do you need to do so your teeth don’t feel scuzzy?!” “What is our agreement on phone usage?” “How could you work this out with your brother?” 

In debriefing, the “child” says he feels responsible and respected.  He is invited to think.  And he chooses to consider each question and probably act on it.  In looking at the two lists, this time he identifies with the talents and skills.  He’s learning decision-making, autonomie, and that he is capable.  His confidence grows.

Denise Dampierre and INSEAD alumni

Through playing the scenario and discussion, participants arrrive at the conclusions themselves:  giving people instructions generates resistance.  Asking questions invites cooperation.

Giving people instructions generates resistance.
Asking questions invites cooperation.

Tools Galore

This Introduction to Positive Discipline provides a taster of the numerous aids to build relationships that respect BOTH the framework-need of the parents and the connection-needs of the children, and to leaders and team-members for professional settings.

These relationship tools work in multiple contexts.

Discover: SoSooper Workshops & Conferences for Teams at Work

Contact me to find out more and to plan a taster event for your network.

Diversity in icecream. Tin Pot Creamery

Embracing Differences without Conflict – from Steven Sels, CEO Primagaz

We are continuing with our series on diversity inspired by Steven Sels, the CEO of Primagaz.  The previous post broached the benefits of diversity and how the company’s intentional strategy to build multi-national and multi-cultural teams favorably impacts their talent management, bottom line, and corporate culture.

Read: 12 Riches of Diversity – Interview with Steven Sels, CEO Primagaz

Today, Sels shares the practical side to harvesting these riches:

  • How it happens
  • Who does what and when
Steven Sels in action

Pre-Requisties to Effective Diversity – Differences without Contention

Sels believes diversity programs fail to reap these riches when the prerequisites are not yet in place.

“Do not start with diversity because it will crash.  For me there is no real cost to diversity. But there are prerequisites that, if they are not in place, I am convinced a diversity strategy will not work.

When there is a culture of openness, collegiate decision-making, work organized in networks (vs. in silos), and the willingness to hire people who do not fit a standard profile, then diversity speeds up performance and growth.”

Denise Dampierre (DD): Describe collegial decision-making at Primagaz.

Steven Sels (SSe): Our Executive Committee – the CEO, CFO, COO, CHRO, CMO – meets weekly.  We are an international group: I am from Belgium, we have a Turk, two French, and a Franco-American who has lived 15 years in the US.

Every Monday, we take the whole afternoon together.

It starts at 11:00 and we resolve the first two issues on the agenda.  Over lunch, the five of us take one and a half hours to debrief the previous week and share what’s coming up.

The afternoon is open for presentations from throughout the organization.  Numerous teams present a project for review and decision-making.  We add to the agenda proposals of a maximum of five slides submitted by the previous Wednesday. During the Monday meetings we spend thirty minutes in discussion with each team.  We do not spend the time reviewing the presentation; we explore and debate the issues. It requires considerable preparation by everyone.

These five slide proposals and ensuing discussion require that team members are aligned with each other; the teams themselves have already practiced collegial decision-making.

The Exec Com reviews many projects every week.  This gives us a feel of the trends and new perspectives. The invitation is open to any team to convince us of a project.

“It can be very difficult for people from other countries to manage French teams.  The fact that we see each other very regularly makes it easier to understand and to be understood.”

DD: Do you have to meet every week and for as long?

SSe:  It’s because we see each other every week that we advance faster.

Colleagues outside the company tell me that this half-day is wasted time.  For me it is four half days gained time!  We don’t have to get the train rolling, it already is in movement and these meetings build the momentum.  It’s a continuum that functions easily, smoothly, and productively.

“Since we review many projects every week, we gain a feel of the trends and new perspectives.”

DD: How do you arrive at collegial decision-making?

SSe: We aim for a unanimous agreement in our Executive Committee.  If someone is not in accord, it is the responsibility of the other members of the committee to find the arguments to convince him. This can take several sessions. If we do not succeed in convincing the other person, then we do not proceed with that venture.

Since we meet so often, we get to know each other and learn to work with our various cultural frameworks and individual personalities.  It is rare that we cannot reach an agreement.

This collegiate decision-making works so well for us because we are multi-national and multi-cultural.  We need to take advantage of our diversity of cultures, points of view, and characters.

Once we have reached the agreement, implementation goes super-fast.  Management is all aligned and we each know what to do to make it happen. What a great advantage!

DD:  You described collegiate decision-making at the Executive Committee level as possibly lengthier in discussion yet speedy in implementation.  How can you act quickly if operational teams also go through the time-consuming process of collegiate decision-making?

SSe: This process of having groups present to the Exec Com forces the teams to be aligned beforehand.  They have been through their own collegiate decision-making process before their proposal reaches us.

“Once we have reached the agreement, implementation goes super-fast.  Management is all aligned and we each know what to do to make it happen.”

DD: What happens when you cannot reach an agreement?  How do you avoid outright conflict?

SSe: It happens very rarely. Very, very, very rarely.

We have a culture where things get said directly, not in back-handed comments in the hallways but face-to-face in the Exec Com meetings.

We also acknowledge cultural differences and account for it.  Take the French. Their communication style is High Complexity & Very Direct.  By the way, this is only true in France, not in other European cultures.

High complexity means using long sentences and sometimes running around the bush before getting to the point. They can also be very direct with comments, like giving a slap.

Germans have Low Complexity and are Direct.  Italians and Spaniards tend towards High Complexity and Indirectness.  That’s also the case with our Turkish head of HR.  The Americans have yet another mentality.  These differing mindsets are wealth that we want to tap into. If we only have French people around the table, or men or women, everyone will come in the same direction because we are all biased on the same way of working.

And yet, it can be very difficult for people from other countries to manage French teams.  The fact that we see each other very regularly makes it easier to understand and to be understood.

“We aim for a unanimous agreement in our Executive Committee.  If someone is not in accord, it is the responsibility of the other members of the committee to find the arguments to convince him.”

In some rare cases, you still need a CEO to decide. I remark, “There are too many different opinions around the table. Here is my proposal and why I think it’s the best for company.”  I open the debate and ask if everyone can find themselves in this solution. And we move on.

DD: Even that is a collegial way to decide!

DD:  How do you handle errors in a collegial decision-making environment?

SSe: We need to be close to our teams and to be visible.  Visible thought leadership. We work in a decentralized organization; we depend upon trust. People must be comfortable saying things.

Admitting error only works when people know an example of someone who exposed himself and the situation turned out positively for him and for the company. They can tell themselves, “I dare speak up.”

We apply this regularly in meetings asking, “Is there still an elephant in the room?”  Is there a potential or actual problem that everyone sees yet nobody talks about?  We make it super easy and simple to broach so that people see that they are not blamed.

When I learn of a mistake, I pick up the phone and call someone at our holding company.  We can only correct mistakes when we know about them.  Then we seek solutions.  It’s simple.  It’s our culture.

I worked in other organizations before joining SHV Holdings where employees had suspicions about unethical behavior.  They kept quiet.  That doesn’t happen here.  Bad news travels quickly so that we can do something about it.

“How we shape our buildings shapes our business and our people.”

We also have to be in touch with our indirect reports and reduce notions of hierarchy.  Hierarchy fosters fear.  We use our physical building space to create connection.  It’s open space with possibilities for privacy.  Open space only works well when people also have an opportunity to retreat.  We call it Total Workplace Organization because how we shape our buildings shapes our business and our people.

There is no golden rule to preventing mistakes.  It’s a daily effort.

Thank You

Many thanks, Steven Sels, for sharing with simplicity (Low Complexity) and candor (Direct) how Primagaz transforms the concept of diversity and the reality of different perspectives into quality decision-making and speedy implementation.

  • Meet often & consistently
  • Model the behavior you seek
  • Create processes which reinforce collegial decision-making at multiple levels
  • Take time to get Ready & Set. Then GO!

Stay tuned for the next post where I’ll be sharing a tool to put these insights into practice.

Questions for Steven Sels?  Post them in the comments below.  Thanks.

Cover photo – Tin Pot Creamery
They ship ice cream throughout the US! 

Boys in teamwork. What collaboration!

Turn Good Intentions into Great Teamwork

Who among you works with youth or young employees?  How do you help the next generation to transform good intentions into teamwork, collaboration, and positive results?

That’s what I had the opportunity to put to the test this past week when teaching a class in Introduction to Management to university students, youth with several months of corporate work experience.  The university called me in to pick up a class in the middle of their curriculum; I began with the topics of Motivation and Leadership.  How appropriate!

Personable and polite students entered the class with good intentions.  In theory, they were motivated.  In practice, they quickly lost focus by chatting with a colleague or scrolling on their mobile phone.  Bye bye, teamwork.

Professor colleagues lament the young generation’s lack of attention and most respond in either of two schools

  • to carry on whether the students are listening or not
  • to walk over to the students’ desk and close their computers for them

Motivation 3.0

My area of expertise is Motivation-in-the-Era-of-Internet which expounds that employees are most motivated when they find autonomy, mastery, and purpose in their work.  Ignoring students or treating them like a child lies contrary to this Motivation 3.0 approach.

“Management is about creating conditions for people to do their best work…And what science is revealing is that carrots and sticks can promote bad behavior and encourage short-term thinking at the expense of the long view.” – Dan Pink, from Drive

Additionally, my experience with Millennials confirms their search for authenticity and connection in relationships.  Neither of the above teaching/leadership styles convey either genuine interest in or an engagement with the students.

Here was my dilemma:  How to teach/lead and engage these students in a way that

  • ensures results (the material is covered qualitatively=
    AND SIMULTANEOUSLY
  • creates a sense of belonging and desire to contribute among the students?

In other words, how to help these Post Millennials transform their good intentions into positive teamwork?

Team-Generated Collaboration Guidelines

We used a tool that works wonders in my workshops: Co-Developed Group Guidelines

This tool helps both create and maintain a constructive work environment.

CREATE COLLABORATION

1. The first step entails putting the good intentions into writing.  Here is how.

Invite your group to share, “What can we each do to work together as a great team?”

Folk respond right away with, “To respect each other.”  And the list continues.

2. It’s helpful to break down vague or over-used words. 

  • “What does respect mean exactly?”
  • “What will it sound/look/feel like?”
  • “What is an example of lack of respect that we should avoid?”

3. Once the brainstorming complete, invite the group to prioritize three to five of these great team behaviors.

The process of making the list together brings the success-criteria to top of mind.  It’s like hearing the reminder to drink 1 liter of water a day.  We know these are helpful behaviors AND we benefit from remembering to do so.

The process of having built these teamwork criteria together builds belonging to the group and accountability.  “It’s the rules I made.  It’s normal that I should keep them.”

Here is our class’ list.Teamwork collaboration guidelines

MAINTAIN TEAMWORK

As humans, any rule is hard to follow, even the great ones we make ourselves!  We need help yet even well-intentioned positive reminders can sound like nagging.  Invite self-evaluation as an effective means of follow through.

Half-way through my class I invited our group to review our team ground rules.  “How are we doing? Thumbs up (good teamwork), side ways (OK job), or down (need improvement).”

In our class, thumbs were all over the place!  That’s an opportunity to address the elephant in the room.

“Well…it looks like some people think we are listening while other people talk, and others don’t.”

That’s where I appealed to everyone to think of one or two behaviors to change so that our listening improved.  Some students closed their computers on their own accord.  We reshuffled the break-out groups which had the effect of separating chattering partners.  People sat up straighter in their chairs…

And we smiled (!) and continued with class.

And for our next session on Communication and Teamwork, we’ll begin by reviewing those same co-developed ground rules and setting a personal goal to be 1 Great. Team.

How do you engage your young employees?  Please share in the comments.

Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Work

What is your challenge with teamwork?

  • People arrive late in meetings
  • Folk repeat what has already been said or done
  • Meetings have no agenda
  • Lack of trust

Try setting a new stage.  Instead of focusing on the challenges, brainstorm together about great teamwork and, TOGETHER, set yourselves some clear guidelines.

Apply Teamwork Guidelines to Your Life

Easter is this Sunday.  In France, it’s customary to celebrate over a looooooong meal with extended family.  You love the food, wine, and company.  The kids get bored à table for an eternity.

Try this activity “en famille.

“Sweethearts, what can we do to make the big family meal a great experience for everyone?”

Everyone can brainstorm:

  • “We could get up and play between courses”
  • “We could get up and help (!) between courses!!”
  • “We could have Easter Egg drawings and color them while the adults finish eating”
  • “We could make an Easter Egg hunt for the adults!!!”

Once the brainstorming juices have flown free, then select one or two options that’s acceptable to everyone. 🙂

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Happy Hour with Ollia

On the Air with Happy Hour with Ollia

Super excited to be a guest on Happy Hour with Ollia. on radio IDFM98 on Tuesday, March 6 from 7-8pm (10am in L.A, 1pm in New York, 6pm London).

Work + Life + Balance

Join us to hear a live discussion about succeeding in work and life simultaneously.  We’ll talk about finding our own personal balance by building healthy relationships (connection AND boundaries) through positive communication.

Knowing myself and Ollia, we’ll be launghing too.

Questions You Want Answered

Let us know what issues you want addressed.  Write them in the comments below.

Join Us

Tune to 98.0FM if you’re in the Ile de France region, or via the website www.idfm98.com and click on the top left hand button “Ecoutez IDFM”  (next to blue arrow)

Love Languages at Work

Have you ever tried to make someone feel appreciated at work and it backfired? You offered chocolates (because you like to receive gifts) and the recipient gave you a wierd look. You publicly complimented a colleague who then informed you they don’t need your help defending them.

Ouch.

This is a common misunderstanding asserts Gary Chapman, author the the 5 Love Languages series. Each person is internally wired to receive love in a preferred way AND expects the rest of the world to receive and express appreciation in the same way. Chapman applies these Love Languages to personal relationships and uses the term “love.”

Aren’t we also people at work?

Engaged Employees are People who Care and Feel Appreciated

According to a Deloitte study, employee engagement banks on trust in leadership, a humanistic entourage, an inclusive environment, and high learning (a.k.a. the opportunity to make mistakes and still be appreciated).

Factors of employee engagement

With a slight paradigm tweak, Love Language insights apply to any trusting relationship seeking open communication and mutual appreciation.

The MULTIPLE Love Languages

According to Chapman (who sold 11 million copies of his books translated in to 50 languages), love and appreciation are communicated in multiple and distinct ways. Everyone has a preferred Love Language.  Appreciation expressed in this favored language encourages connectivity and cooperation. Conversely, disproval communicated in this preferred language further distances the parties; greater effort is required to “retrieve” the one who received critique to regain their attention and to motivate them.

People often assume that every other person shares his same method of expressing appreciation. That mistaken belief creates a source of frustration. An Anglophone may not understand a colleague who converses in French, and the same disconnect can occur among people “speaking” different Love Languages.

According to Chapman, there are five ways communicate that they care

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Implications of Love Languages at Work

How could these varying modes of connection impact your and my life at work?

1. Awareness and understanding

As an Anglophone living in Paris, I come across very young French children who hear me speak English.  They turn to their parents and ask, “Why does she speak so funny? Is something wrong with her?”

That’s when these tykes discover the notion of foreign languages.

Before we gain the ability to decipher these Love Languages, it helps to know that they exist.

2. Self-awareness and expressing preferences

Maybe you feel unappreciated at work. As you discover the various Love Languages, you also uncover your preferences. Your newfound awareness allows you to encourage team members to recognize your contributions in a way that is most meaningful to you.

When come in with a smile and a box of chocolates, I feel that you recognize my contribution to our team. It means a lot to me.” (Love Language = Receiving Gifts. Read below for more details)

3. Creativity in communication styles

In an ideal world we might identify the Love Language of our team members (and family members) and communicate accordingly.

We live in a real world…and a global one at that.

To ensure comprehension among internationals, it is helpful to communicate the same thought in multiple ways. “What’s your goal?” followed by “Describe your ideal solution.”  Who knows, they might not understand your accent!

In the same way, expand your Love Language vocabulary; try using Words of Affirmation AND Acts of Service with the same person.  It won’t hurt them AND you will grow.

4. Personalized engagement

One employee (or boss) particularly challenges you? Spend some time observing them to discover their Love Language.  In the process, you will grow in empathy and understanding AND communicate more effectively.

Impact of Love Languages at Work

Let’s take a peak at each of these communication styles and identify how to apply them appropriately in the workplace. Some ideas you will find familiar; you’re doing them already.  Do you do so with every colleague or selectively?

What new approach would you like to adapt today?

Words of Affirmation

Everyone makes mistakes AND everyone does at least one thing right.  This language focuses on identifying and naming those strengths.

With a spouse it can sound like, “Honey, great job organizing this family outing. It’s so much fun.”

With a child, one could say, “You are reliable with your schoolwork. I really appreciate not having to check up on your homework all the time. You should be proud of yourself.”

And at work:

“Thanks to your timeliness in preparing the presentation we practiced well. It helped us speak fluidly in front of the customer and present our ASK with confidence.”

“You bring good humor to our meetings which stimulates creativity for everyone. You’re an asset to the team.”

Affirmation helps identify the conditions which favor success…which we can then replicate for continued growth.

Affirmation can also reduce the risk of a new challenge by helping the individual recognize a transferable skill.

“You are rigorous in ____ (type of work), I’m confident you can apply that rigor to move us forward in this new domain.”

Affirmation is more than non-committal phrases like “Good job.” “Great team.”  These provide candy to the ego yet lack the consistency to generate a vibrant sense of belonging and feeling of contribution.

Acts of Service

These big and small gestures demonstrate an intentional kindness for the benefit of another person.

At home it might mean taking on an extra chore when your partner comes home exhausted.

How about these for the office:

To help someone with a software or a technology issue

To connect people and smooth the way with an introductory email

To help to set up the conference room

To bring the morning coffee just the way you like it (with the two dashes of cinnamon and the squirt of honey)

To ask, “How can I help?”

Receiving Gifts

It’s the thought that counts, like showing that you thought of them when they were out of sight. The size of the gift matters less than the having a present to offer.

It could be a photo of the professional event you worked so hard to organize together. A print of the two of you together or an image sent specifically to them, especially if they cannot be there with you.

Does the person enjoy a delicacy with her/his coffee?

Stick a post-it message of encouragement on their screen as you pass by.

Quality Time

The key concept is TOGETHER.

Going for a coffee break together. Inviting a colleague to grab lunch just the two of you. Playing of the company soccer team.

What about an after-work outing? Be considerate. If your colleague has a family or other personal commitment, your offer may be taking quality time away from his loved ones!

Physical Touch

According to Chapman, most men express and receiving caring (and rejection) through physical touch.

Think of the hearty handshake, even a double-handed one.  Notice those paternalistic pats on the shoulder.

In a workplace, one can create a sense of physical connection without touching.

Sit on the same side of the desk

Secure eye contact

 

So….what’s YOUR Love Language? 

P.S. And when you get home, remember those Love Languages too!

 

Child convincing argument

Why We Need to Teach our Children to Disagree Well

A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled “Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work” by Amy Gallo received 3500 + likes on LinkedIn and generated 1400 comments.  The focus of the article and the remarks center around the value of diverse opinions to stimulate learning and innovation. 

Wouldn’t you like your child to become a professional who contributes to progress and creativity in his or her workplace?!

Reality Check – Disagreement in “Real Life”

Here is what happens in many homes when kids disagree.  (And even at work too.  Replace the word “parent” with “boss”)

Many parents fear chaos.  Mutiny.  To be avoided at all cost.

And many parents respond with control.

Control anger and emotions.  Control kids’ behaviors.  Control oneself.

Yet underneath we feel out of control…and under increased pressure, we lose our temper.  We lose control.

Benefits of Disagreement

Gallo acknowledges similar tendencies in many workplaces and challenges managers to allow open communication, even disagreements, as they benefit the workplace through

  • Better solutions
  • Improved relationships
  • More sense of belonging
  • Greater happiness

Parents, wouldn’t YOU like a home with smarter solutions, stronger relationships, sense of belonging, and happiness? Of course!

An Every Day Example

Instead of a morning rush out the door with stress for everyone, your family morning routine became smooth and joyful THANKS to the challenges your child had in getting ready.

Before parent and child disagreed over the morning routine.  Mom wanted to get out fast.  Child dragged his feet.  The previous “solution” had been a nagging parent…which is no fun for anyone.

To open up communication regarding this disagreement, the family brainstormed ways to organize mornings more effectively.  The children came up with a wacky solution that they love and you, the parent, would not have imagined: “We want a fun wake-up song.  Can you sing “Happy Day” to the tune of “Happy Birthday” to us every morning?!”

And it works! Now, it’s a delight to leave home for school on time AND with a smile.  

The children feel so proud to have devised this new plan; they know their ideas are heard and valued. Home is a happier place…thanks to disagreement!

How to Make Disagreement Positive?

1. Start with…YOU

What is YOUR attitude?

Many parents consider disagreement to be a failure.

Let’s re-examine that.

Do you REALLY want your children to think exactly like you?  How will they be able to grow into positive contributors to society in an ever-changing environment?

Reframe

Try re-framing. CONGRATULATIONS!  Respectful disagreement means you have taught your child to think for himself!

Avoid Taking Disagreement Personally

Children are growing their roots and pushing boundaries.  It’s an essential part of their growing job.

Besides, there is something to learn from the children’s perspective.  Physically and literally they view the world from another angle.

What does your kitchen look like to a three-year-old who cannot reach the top of the counter?  She sees the loooong stretch of countertop and a glimpse of the sky when looking out the window.  You see the garden.

Looking out of window from below

Garden scene through window.

In the same way, you and your child will have differing views on sharing of toys, cleanliness of room, sex drugs and rock ‘n roll….

It is normal that different folk have a different perspective.  In the working world, this is the concept of collaboration with diversity.

YOU have been uniquely selected to teach your child how to thrive with diversity! 

Good news & bad news.  It’s a tremendous privilege AND you get to be the guinee pig as your children learn from their mistakes.

2. Connect (or re-connect) with THE OTHER

Seek the Beliefs behind the Disagreement

According to Psychiatrist Dr. Alfred Adler, every person has beliefs about himself, other people, and the world. Some of these beliefs may be beneficial while others may be harmful and/or erroneous.

Beliefs about Oneself

“I matter, no matter what.” ‘(Beneficial belief)

“I am only valuable when I do not make mistakes.  When I fail, I am worthless.”  (Belief of conditional value)

Beliefs about People

“________ (name any religion or political party) are fanatics.” (Belief of superiority)

“Parents want to control me.” (Non-collaborative belief)

“Mom/Dad says ‘No’ but does not mean it.” (Manipulative belief)

Beliefs about the World

“The world is a safe place.”

“There is no such thing as win-win. The strongest gets his way.”

 

A child who believes his parents want to control him will act differently from one who believes that home is a safe place.

For many of us, adults and children, these beliefs rest in our subconscious.  So how to identify them?

Want help identifying your child’s beliefs?  Give a quick coaching call.

Our emotions reveal our beliefs.  Our beliefs determine our actions.

One Family’s Story

“We had just given our son his first portable phone and had clearly reviewed the rules with him, the first of which was ‘When parents call, you answer.’

On several occasions our son would not return home directly after school and nor answer his phone.

On one evening I welcomed him back and asked to speak one-on-one.

Parent: “Hi sweetheart.  Did you know that your behavior talks?”

Child: “NO.  I speak with my words.  Deuh…” Instead of getting distracted by his disrespect, I pursued.

P: “Yes.  Your actions talk.  What do you think a tardy return with no response on your phone is saying?”

C: “Dunno.  You tell me.”

P: “Think, darling.  You’re smart.” Said kindly, yet seriously.  My son realized I expected an answer. 

Thoughtful silence.

I probed, “What does it say about the importance of your time with regard the to value of my time?”

C: “Well, I guess that my time is more important than yours.”

P: “Is that true?  How would you feel if someone treated your time as less valuable?”

C: “Well, I’d be annoyed, and I guess it’s not true that my time is more important,” my son admits with a sheepish grin.

We even enjoyed (!) the ensuing conversation about limits since we had connected and corrected some hurtful beliefs.”

Your child’s disagreement, in word and action, gives insight into his beliefs.

Seek to Understand the Others’ Perspectives

What if your child were making very intelligent decisions…from his perspective!

When above the kitchen counter one sees a ceiling which looks pretty safe, it is not surprising that children place their hands on the burning stove.

Create a Safe Space to Voice Disagreements

There is a time and a place to voice a differing opinion.  It’s not when rushing out the door and tension is high.

When there is no acceptable way to express differing viewpoints, disagreement can happen anywhere and anytime.  It sounds like argumentation, like picking a fight in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the grocery store while parents are trying to rush three munchkins through the crowded aisles.  “I WANT_______.  You NEVER let me choose!” During dinner with the grandparents.  “Did dad ever ______ when he was a kid because he doesn’t let me do it.”

That’s why we love Family Meetings.  It’s a scheduled time to

  1. check in,
  2. resolve issues if needed, and
  3. have fun

Family council get together resolve issues

Family council get together with fun

A Family Meeting is a safe space for children (and parents) to voice their issues.  Knowing that the Family Meeting is coming up, provides resolution to many every-day crises.

When the kids fight (disagree) with over TV use, they can write it on the agenda of the Family Meeting.

When they don’t like veggies, they can bring it up at the Family Meeting.

With some structure to this short meeting (15 minutes a week), parents and children resolve disagreements together.  They can express their feelings about the incident, share their perspective, actively listen, and work together to find better solutions which make everyone happy and feel belonging.

Want help setting up a Family Meeting chez vous?  Set up a quick coaching call.

 

Teen jumping horizon

Teens, Build Skills Employers Seek

For teens & pre-teens

Your Potential…the inspiration behind the workshop

Parents putting on pressure?

Are your parents are putting on the pressure?

As one teen put it, “Mom, Dad.  It’s like this.  Being a kid is fun.  Being an adult is work. I wanna have fun.”

What if there is more?!  That’s what we’ll discover.

Take Leadership of Your Life
Be the person employers want

Do something great sign
Start today.

Do you know? YOU can make YOUR life meaningful, exciting, and fun.  And the best way is to start now.

In this workshop, we help you identify the skills that help you have choices in life and to launch your plan to get those choices.

What you get:

  • Tools to get your parents off your back (to help them have confidence in you)
  • Hope for the future and for YOUR future
  • Steps to grow into the person you want to be

Starts with Pizza … Learning through Games

Our workshop begins with pizza and introductions.

We do some brainstorming together as we eat (with our fingers).

We’ll play poker…betting with skills. You choose one or two life skills you want to win this year.

We’ll create a Parent-Trust-Me-&-Give-Me-Space Plan.

Teen build skills employers seek

Your Take-Away

  1. A Positive Vision for YOUR Future
  2. YOUR Plan to develop one or two key life skills of your choice
  3. A plan to build parents’ trust and give you space
  4. A way to check throughout the year that you are one target with your goal

What will you tell my parents?

Our goal is for BOTH you AND your parents to grow.  YES.

Growth benefits from some key ingredients:

Trust

You can trust that what you share will be honored and respected.
Your parents can trust that their children are receiving wise and positive encouragement.

Some information does get shared with parents:

  • the agenda,
  • the topics of discussion

Some information remains privatewho says what.  (****Vitally IMPORTANT****)

Some information you may choose to share (we will discuss this as a group):

  • skills you discovered employers seek in their new hires
  • your strengths
  • your goals

Insights

We’ll be playing games (a revisited Pokemon Go, an adapted Poker) and engaging in activities where you will discover different views about life, yourself, and even your parents.

Your parents also grow through a refreshed perspective.  I invite all moms and dads who want to know more about the process, the philosophy, and the science-based psychology behind our activites to attend the workshop the week before.  (Click here to find out about future workshops)

About Me

I am a Harvard MBA, the mother of 4 boys, and certified in positive psychology coaching and training methods, namely Positive Discipline (to build cooperative and respect-filled relationships) and Appreciative Inquiry (to engage in individuals and groups in change management by building on strengths)

Is There More?

I’m interested in you.  It would be a delight to know how you are doing with your plan.  Your choice.  My (and hopefully yours too) pleasure.

Optional follow up by WhatsApp or Messenger Group or _____ (you decide)

RSVP workshop

Thoughtful brother

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be more generous. To child, learn through a job.

We are coming to a close of our Family Feedback of the year. One son remains to give and receive his feedback with his parents.  This is the fourth in the series of posts to give you a glimpse into one our most precious and powerful family moments.

Click here for our How To’s.

Read on to learn how my son told me to be more generous and I encouraged him to grow by working simple jobs of manual labor or service.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

We are seated at the dinner table and the boys chose to go around in the order of seating. It’s our second son who finally got the floor.

Son (17 years):  “Mom, what I really appreciate is your flexibility with letting me spend time (like the night) with my girlfriend.”

This is a very delicate issue between us because his behavior is in contradiction with my values.  Yet, you see, my job as a parent is to provide him with an education and to present him with a set of values.  He graduated from high school this summer and now lives out of our home.  My role as a mother has evolved now:   to allow my son to fly with his own wings.   I did my BEST while he was under our roof.   It is his life, not mine.  I have made mistakes and learned some of my best lessons from them. He too will blunder.  He might choose some or none of my values for his life.  He will live with the consequences of those choices.

With regards to my life and beliefs, I try to follow Jesus Christ.   Try.  Because invariably I fail. But  Jesus loves me.  Still.  So, if I follow Christ, I am to love.  Still.  And loving my son now means to be “less of me and more of him.”

Mom:  “I’m glad you appreciate it.”

To Change

Son:I really don’t have a way where you could change…

This is our son who has complained and COMPLAINED about …everything and anything.  He’s an expert at finding faults.  We have purposefully taught him to identify other people’s strength and to encourage them.  It’s been WORK.

Son: “…ah yes.  You didn’t do it this year for Christmas, but sometimes you offer people the gifts you would like to receive.”

Mom:  “What do you mean, exactly?”

Son: “Last year you gave everyone kitchen tools.  The ceramic knife, the knife holder, the latest fashion cookbook…you used them all.”

Embarrassingly, this is all true!

Mom:  “I see (all too clearly) what you mean.”

Son:  “Ok, what about me?”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom: “What you have done excellently last year is master your schoolwork.  You graduated with honors. Intelligence contributes to these results, and you also worked for those grades.  You exhibited discipline and determination…along with balance in your social and spiritual dimensions of life.  And it was not just last year.  This year your academic demands are even heftier and you’re at the top of your class and keeping up with a life.”

Dad:  “You’re ranked N°1 in your class?”

Son: “Didn’t you know?”

Banter between son and father where the younger bull gets to show off his size and the senior one grunts his consent.

To Change

Rowdy teen boysMom:  “And what you could do to change is considering getting a job.  Try working for money.  The jobs you’ll have at your age are mostly entry level manual labor or service positions.  It’s a good thing to know first-hand the value of sweat and smile.

Son: “I’ve thought of that.  But you see, I don’t feel the neeeeeed to work yet.  (oh, oh!)  I work at school and then deserve a vacation.  I can afford not to work now.”

Mom:You can afford it?  Who’s paying for your time off?  Until when?  Why?

Now that you have more of the privileges of adulthood, isn’t time that you also take on more of those responsibilities too?”

Silence.

Mom:  “Aagh!  It’s tough when you want to eat your cake and keep it too!” (In French we say, ‘To have the butter and the money for the butter.’ ‘Avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre.’)

We can all relate…and smile.

Dad: “Are we finished with the analysis and mutual-flagellation?”

Everyone:  “Poooooor Dad!”  “If it were THAT bad, why did you stay with us?” “Yes, dear ”

Mom: “Everyone clear his plate and takes at least one other thing back to the kitchen!”

Thus closed the evening meal and the Family Annual Review.

Follow Through on the Family Feedback

Our comments now hang in our Frame of Fame…where they’ll stay several weeks and re-appear from time to time over the year…as behaviors might deteriorate and the need arises to

  • be humble,
  • be generous,
  • think before speaking,
  • advance step-by-step, or
  • dress one’s age

 

Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Pre-teen

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, stop being a fashion victim. To child, think before you speak

Two of our sons have already given (to parent) and received (from Mom) feedback about what each does well and should continue doing, and about one behavior to consider changing. (Catch the beginning of the discussion here).

Business (a.k.a. the meal) continues as usual.  We’re at the dinner table, getting close to dessert time, and it’s the turn of youngest of four sons.   The meal keeps on flowing throughout the exchange.

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

Mom:  “Darling, what would you like to tell me about what I do well and what I should think about changing?”

Son (12 years old):  “Well, like, you know…”

Brothers:  “No we don’t.  Be specific.”  It’s said with both a touch of impatience and sense of humor.

Son:  “Well, like, you’re more flexible…”

Mom:  “Flexible seems to be a key theme tonight…or last year!  What do you mean, exactly?”

Son, after some more humming and hawing and searching for words and being teased by his siblings:“It’s like you can laugh more at yourself.

Mom:  “Thank you.  And what about something where you want to see me change?”

Son:  “Well, like, you know…”

Brothers:  “No.  We don’t.  Move on.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to My Child

Well Done

Mom:  “I’ll give you some feedback about what you do really well.  I’m so impressed by your insights into people.  Sometimes you’ll come home from school and describe a situation and comment about how that reveals the person’s character.  Wow.  You are making connections between what people think and how they behave.  It’s impressive.

Son:  Shy smile.

To Change

Teen thinks he's coolMom, quickly so that the older ones don’t break the positive momentum with a questionable comment: “What you can do to change is to think before you speak.”

Guffaws in agreement from the boys.

“Sometimes you call my name, I answer, and you reply, ‘Nothing.’   It doesn’t happen just once…and we’ve already talked about it and you’re better not doing this as often.  Yet now, you regularly react to your brothers by insulting them slightly.  Not surprisingly, they respond.  Then you reply, ‘Just joking.’”

Boys:  “Yeah, you do it all the time… It sounds stupid.  Either mean what you say or don’t.  Dig, dude?”

Mom, talking right at Son 4 without paying attention to the siblings:  “You don’t have to defend yourself, darling.  If you think before you speak, you’ll avoid many slippery slopes.”

Dessert time = Hungry for closing time.  Read here for our final exchange on the 2013 Family Annual Review.

Continued…Feedback to Mom

Well Done

My youngest son and I had not finished this conversation.  So, the next afternoon, when the older boys were not around, I approached him again.

Mom:  “I did not quite understand your feedback yesterday.  Could you please tell me again what I do well and what I should think about changing?”

Son:  “Mom, you are more flexible now.  Before you used to be too intense.  Now you can laugh at yourself.”

Mom:  “Can you give me an example?”

Son:  “Remember when (and he recalled a time when a friend of his described me as the ‘old lady’) Well, I remember not being embarrassed because you did not lecture him.  (Was I THAT bad?!)  Instead you laughed.”

To Change

Mom fashion victimMom:  “Thanks, darling.  Now, what should I think about changing?”

Son 4:  “Don’t be such a fashion victim.”

Mom:  “ME!”  (Are you kidding? My humble self thinks, “I make fashion; I don’t follow it.”) “Please, give me an example.”

Son:  “Your nails.  Stop wearing blue and green nail polish.  (This past spring and summer, I adorned my fingertips in turquoise and spring green.  In early fall, I opted for navy on my hands and a deep green metallic hue on the toes.)

“It’s just not you, Mom.”  (When the kids were small, manicures were UNIMAGINABLE.  I barely got to shave one leg at a time. So, this nail craze is new.)

Mom:  “Thanks for letting me know.  I see what you mean. I’ll think about it.”

I probably will give it up…and present him with my orange fingertips telling him how I hesitated on the purple and pink stripes but followed his advice instead.

Little bother for me.  ‘Lotta meaning for him.

NEXT SON…

 

Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.
Teen boy

Family Feedback Example—To Mom, be flexible. To child, advance step by step

We’re on a roll with the Family Feedback.  Our eldest son has given and received his insights (read here) for the Family Feedback.  We’re sitting around the dinner table and our third son is next to him.

Perfecting Family Feedback Process

(In a teensy bit of a controlling style) I turn to our second eldest son.

Mom:  “What is your feedback for me?”

Purposefully, I did NOT ask, “Do you have____?”  Our purpose with this discussion is to create an environment where our children voice a compliment and a concern.  We’re going beyond “Yes” and “No” mutterings.  (Read here for Family Feedback How To’s and free download)

Son 2:  “Oh, we’re going this way?  By age?”

Mom, interpreting the question as a gentle invitation to allow the kids to take the lead:  “We don’t have to. Who wants to go next?”

Feedback to Mom

Well Done

Son 3 pipes up, “I’ll go.  Mom, you have been nice about getting special school supplies for me.  Sometimes I’ve run out of _______ or needed a specific book or _______ and it meant going to a specialty store to find it.  I appreciate your effort.  Thanks.”

Mom smiles…lips and eyes.

To Change

Son:  “And Mom, you have GOT TO BE more flexible with my going out at night.  I don’t want to have to give you a fixed phone number AND address AND friends’ names AND time I come home before you let me go out.”

Older brothers:  “Aaagh, we hated that too!”  “Now it’s your turn!”

Mom:  “Do you know why I ask for those?”

Son:  “Yeah, my older brothers messed up so now you’re tough on me.”

Mom repeats:  “Do you know why I ask those things?”

Son 3 grunts.

Mom:  “When you give your friend’s mobile number, they don’t answer.  There have been times when we found out that you boys were not where you said you were, so I like to have a number to call just in case.”

Son:  “The phone number is the worst thing.”

Mom:  “We had dinner with friends last night who, for sleepovers, systematically call beforehand to check that their sons are expected.”

Son 3:  “Don’t do that!”

Mom:  “And I ask about where they are and getting home so that you can work out public transportation and return on time.  ‘I missed the last train’ is not a valid excuse for being late…”

Dad:  “STOP the bickering!”

Brothers:  “Yeah, work this out the two of you.”

Mom:  “OK, honey.  Make me a proposal for a different way to get permission to go out.  Let’s talk more over something concrete.

Son 2: “My turn?”

Brothers:  “Yeah, let’s move on.”

Transmiting a Vision of Thriving to Son

Well Done

Mom:  “You have shown us your ability to be responsible. Admittedly your teachers are writing that you are insolent in class 🙁 and lacking in maturity. Yet over this vacation and through your job (as a high school freshman, he’s tutoring a French boy in English) you have demonstrated to us your leadership skills, positive initiatives, and commitment to completing your responsibilities well.  When you want to, you excel in maturity.

To Change – Have an optimistic view of you and your future.

You state these outlandish goals for yourself:  king of the world! You know these are unattainable (undesirable?) and I wonder if you say these things out of lack of confidence?…I don’t know.  No one expects you to reach them, so no one will consider you a failure if you don’t.

Raclette à l'ancienne

(“Pass the cheese, please,” someone requests…and we keep talking.)

What you can change is to think of how you can be a success…you choose the realm.  You are WAY MORE LIKELY to fulfill your dreams one step at a time than through a miraculous leap.   Break down your mega-perfectionist goals into smaller tasks…and you might even surprise yourself by how much you accomplish…and then you’ll have the courage to really dream big AND realistic.”

Son:  “Yeah…”

Mom:  “You have soooo much potential, darling.  You know that, don’t you?”

Son:  “I know.”

Brothers:  “Let’s pick up the rhythm.  Next!”

No room for mommy sentimentality!

NEXT SON…

 

Enjoy this year’s whole Family Feedback series:

  1. Family Feedback How To’s &
    To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.