If you can nail this down … you got it made!
So here’s your first great tip … your first great principle. You need to get this one down.
Remember: To listen and understand before you try to speak to be heard. Remember kids don’t need a good talking to. They need a good LISTENING too. So we listen, listen, listen! We do this for a couple of different reasons. We want to make sure the kids know that when they talk to us we’re not just going to talk over them. That they’re going to be LISTENED to and they’re going to be HEARD and they’re going to be UNDERSTOOD.
Second, we’re doing “Information Gathering.” As a Therapist, I’m always listening to people. Not just to hear what they say and appear to be a good listener. I’m doing “Intelligence Gathering.” I want to understand their belief systems and their values and their emotions and these types of things because I’m going to use these as motivating factors and ways to persuade them and to influence them and to sell them on my ideas.
But I have to understand …. not only WHAT they’re saying … but HOW they’re Thinking about it … and WHY they’re thinking these things. The “Why,” the content beneath the words, is as important, or more important, than what they actually say. So, always remember to listen and understand … before you try to speak can be heard. PLEASE remember … ‘Teach DON’T Preach.” Ask yourself this question: “Would you listen to you?” NOBODY Wants to Be LECTURED Too! Kids don’t want to be told what to do.
They don’t want to feel like they’re getting a lecture. They want to feel like they’re talking to a Friend, somebody that cares about them. Somebody that Understands. That’s why it’s so important listen first … Then you’re not preaching. I try to use very SOFT language. Please DON’T say, ” You SHOULD do this” and “You SHOULD do that.” In psychology, they call it “Shoulding” on the person. Don’t nobody wants to be “Should” on! Believe me. So, do it very slowly, very tactfully. Just Float ideas across. My Dad would say things like, “You might want to try … ” or “Here’s something that used to work good for me.” OR … he’d make about somebody else. “I had a friend that … ” It’s important to use SOFT Language that they won’t resist against.
Use SUGGESTIONS … Not DICTATES. Tone is Important too. You won’t hear it unless you tape record yourself and then heard from the outside come back to you. It might be helpful for you to record a couple of conversations with your Child … spend twenty bucks on Amazon for a “Spy Pen” … so you can hear what you sound like to your child. And a lot of times what you get to hear is you get to hear your parent’s voice come out. And that’s a cringe worthy moment. You got to be careful around that.
Remember teach don’t preach What is a Child’s #1 complaint? “My parents just DON’T LISTEN!” One of the techniques that you want to do is to allow the child to literally “talk themselves out.” Remember, this is your information gathering stage. At some point you’re also going to wish they talked a little bit longer so you got better information so you can help them do what therapist’s call “The Turnaround.” How can I turn somebody around, if I don’t fully understand what they’re thinking about their emotions and how they feel about things and how they put logic together? That’s More important than what they say. So make sure that you’re listening to your child. Let them talk themselves out. When they are fully done talking … they will be much more likely to listen and less likely interrupt. So you’re going to win about three different ways.
Great strategy. Make sure you’re using it! . I actually teach this in my Networking course. There’s something called “Conversational Generosity.” People have a bias about how long they speak … versus how long you speak. When you talk to a child for a minute … It seems to them like five minutes. And when they talk for five minutes … they’re pretty sure they only spoke for about 1 minute. So there’s this odd time bias with a child.
So you have to practice something called “Conversational Generosity” a lot …. especially if you want to make sure that the child’s feeling Heard … especially if this has been an issue for you or your child in the past. If they say, “You never listen to me.” “I don’t feel heard by you” … blah blah blah. Then you have this issue. When that happens make sure to start using “Conversational Generosity.” So when you talk half the time and they talk half the time .. you’re going to think “that’s fair … we talked 50/50.” Bu To Your Child … It’s going to seem like you talk 70 percent of the time. When you talk 40 percent of the time they’re literally talking half again as much as you they’re talking 60 percent of the time .. then it will seem like it was about 50/50 to them.
For them to merely notice that you were a little bit generous in the conversation … that they may have talked a little bit more than you … You’ve got to only talk One third of the time or less. That will seem to them like they talked noticeably Less than 1/2 of the time. 🙂 If you really want to be obvious, you talk 10 or 20 percent of the time … they’ll think it was 20 or 30 percent of the time. This is called “Conversational Generosity” and this will resolve some of those issues with your child.
You can also use this with friends, family mentors and coworkers on the job. Great skill – Conversational generosity. Now here’s something almost NO parents do… which can make you “Parent of the Year.” This is classic, simple therapist stuff … but it is HUGE for Parents. Simply showing APPRECIATION for their ideas, their experiences, their feelings. This is literally WHO they are. Think of the opposite … You don’t appreciate their thinking … This means you don’t appreciate THEM. You think you’re attacking their ideas. Kids aren’t like adults in this way. When you “Attack” or Reject their ideas .. They Feel you are Attacking THEM! But kids literally think if you reject my ideas you are rejecting ME. As an adult we can separate the two.. KIDS CAN’T! You can’t LOVE Them .. and HATE thier Ideas. Not appreciating their ideas can destroy your relationship with your child. But if you Listen & Appreciate They will Feel heard. They will feel Very Loved and Very Appreciated.
You will be STRENGTHENING the relationship. And remember showing appreciation for a person’s ideas, experiences and feelings are NOT the same as agreeing with them. Sometimes, you can just use the word appreciation. You can say, “I really appreciate that you’re having these really strong feelings about this. And I can see where your experiences would lead you to think that.
I would probably come to the same conclusion if that happened to me. And then you say, “But in my experience … ” OR Say, “Something similar happened to me when I was a child … so I know what that feels like.” That’s showing Appreciation for the ideas, experiences and feelings. Try to show appreciation … even if you’re going to do a “-turnaround” with them.
Just be sure that they feel heard, understood, appreciated and that you’re being very respectful of their feelings. Remember: They don’t have to be RIGHT for you to agree that you MIGHT have come up with the same conclusion if I it happened to you. You have to learn how to Skillfully appreciate their Ideas/Logic … even as you are gently helping them to think differently. It’s going to take some practice. Here are the key areas that I want to listen very carefully for. 1) Beliefs. And there’s 2 reasons I wanted to do this.
1) To Gather Information
2) To increase your understanding of HOW they Think.
You will use this Information later … To motivate them and sell them on new ideas. Or at least maybe get them to take some time to rethink some of these things themselves, by maybe gently questioning some of the beliefs or the values. Because a lot of kids will do a thing that doesn’t actually match up with their beliefs or their values. They just don’t see the “Disconnect.” So hopefully as a higher level intellect, you can help them see these things in a very gentle and kind way.