I am not much of a conversationalist…not really adept in the art of small talk and casual verbal exchanges. I am much better at one-way communication (I deliver; you receive; questions afterward; thanks for playing), and I thoroughly enjoy a passionate debate. But…these are often not the best communication styles when dealing with children. Especially teenagers. It is easier when they are younger. The conversations can be about anything and can (and often do) spring up from out of nowhere during the most unexpected moments. Their interests are innocuous, so there is no reluctance to say whatever is on their minds at the time, and there is no perceived threat when asked about their day or when pressed for details. You can be silly and ridiculous and it’s appreciated, it’s funny. When they break into the teen-years though, there becomes a sudden need for privacy. They want to introduce boundaries to conversational topics. Simple questions can be viewed as interrogations. The nonsensical things that were once hilarious are now lame. The rules seem to change; and the communication approach has to change along with them. I knew I would have to adjust my style or risk widening the communication gap I could see developing between me and Logan.
Monthly archives for November, 2009
There was a discussion topic on leadership that was introduced in one of my meetings a few months ago. It was a theme that I had heard before with different subjects, but the question was often posed in the same manner – if you were accused of being X (in this case a good leader), would there be enough evidence to convict you? The premise is that the audience, in silence, will take mental inventory of their achievements or actions against a given standard and either receive some affirmation or realize a gap exists and develop a plan to mitigate. Without fail, participants begin to nod thoughtfully as they appear to mentally check off every positive attribute and smile subtly to suggest that not only would there be enough evidence, but that the jury would return the verdict within a matter of seconds and ask openly why there was any question in the first place. While I love the confidence, I often find myself at odds with the individual assessments going on around me. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to realize that in all of our endeavors there is room for improvement… that whatever level of mastery we have achieved to this point only signals progress, not arrival. Otherwise, we are fooling ourselves or robbing ourselves by buying into the lie of complacency. So, with that in mind, I began to contemplate. Not about leadership, but about fatherhood. The questions lingered… would anyone accuse me of being a good father? would there be any evidence to support the accusation? I couldn’t say. It’s been several weeks weighing on my mind… I just don’t know.