Do you realize that you are a GREAT teacher!? You really are. You are excellent at getting a lesson across to your kids, your spouse, employees, co-workers, nearly everyone you interact with on a daily basis. What you do and say makes an impression on your “students” … whether you mean for it to or not.
And sometimes the most powerful lessons you teach are those you don’t necessarily mean to deliver.
For example, when you comment with sarcasm to a less-than-perfect statement by someone. Like when your co-worker states they don’t like a new policy: “I just don’t like that we have to ask for time off a whole two weeks ahead of time. It is hard to remember to do that.” And you reply, “Yeah, it’s REALLY, REALLY hard to remember to type out a five second memo, isn’t it!?”
What they were really asking for may have been a suggestion from you about how to be sure they meet the earlier deadline. Maybe if you said something like,
“Yes, it is longer than before, but I’ll bet they’re just trying to make sure everyone gets listed as well as possible. I think what I’ll do is to make a note as soon as my wife and I begin planning our trip. Then I’ll have it in front of me. At least I can be sure they have time to fit in my time off and let me know if there is a conflict.”Lots easier on the ear, plus you’ve just taught your co-worker a lesson on inter-office communication and working within a system.
Or when your son ignores your request to move his toys from the driveway. Rather than roar at him, “Get off your BUTT and get your JUNK off the driveway before I drag it to the curb for the trash truck! NOW, MISTER!” Ouch. I’ve had a few of those reactions after a long, tough day.
But what have you just taught your boy? That “the Boss” is demanding and rude, and if you don’t want trouble, you better fear his roar! (Yeah, that’s what he’s thinking as he stomps off to obey your command!) (See what I did there? That’s sarcasm!)
Is that who you want him to become for those around him and for your future grandchildren? Probably not. But you most likely weren’t thinking about being a teacher when you were screaming at him. Children, especially, internalize what and how they are treated.
The meanness of his parent’s voice says that you disrespect him, you see him as a failure, and that you don’t think he is worth any patience. What a horrible building block for a dad, a husband, a boss, a man.
Here’s a neat idea, how about treating your child (or your spouse, or your co-worker) like you would want to be treated? Something more like,
“Hey Buddy, I asked you to move your things so they wouldn’t get damaged, please do it. I’ll bet you just forgot to put them away, and you know best where they should go, so please take care of it right now and I’ll help you.”NOW you’re building him up and creating a positive role model for him to follow.
YOU are the only person many folks have who can build them up. You also may be one of the most influential in their day.
Give them a reason to admire you, to follow you, to remember you well. Chances are they need someone in their life like you to build them up.