At work, I teach people how to communicate with confidence and
style, how to convey their passions and strengths in a professional way, and
how to be heard by busy executives. Then, I go home, and I do the exact
The other day, while talking to my one-year old, I noticed that my
speech was riddled with all sorts of deadly communications sins: I speak in a
sing-song voice, ask a lot of questions, and use inappropriate inflections at
every turn. In short, if my son learns to speak like me, it will take a lot
of my workshops to turn it around later in life!
And so I decided to implement the following techniques to teach
my kid better communications from the ground up. Have a look and see if they might work for you, and feel free to
share your favorite communication tips in the comments.
Stop Asking Questions
Some questions are appropriate, such as: "Do you need to pee?"
and "Where are your pants?"
Others, not so much. Think about the many times you've asked
your baby if they are a cute baby, if those are their toes or if they want to
eat, when clearly, they are famished and waiting for you to stop asking silly
questions so they can get some food!
The use of excessive questions is often linked with a passive,
insecure mode of communication, so it's important to teach kids to ask questions
only when they actually have them.
belittling words, are the scourge of our society!
Ok, maybe that was a
little harsh, but it got your attention so much more than saying: "Pejoratives
are just a little annoying, don't you think?"
These words tend to
seep into our everyday communications and weaken our arguments.
"I feel" and "I think" are
two of the biggest culprits, though in this case, I would make the exception if
you are having a discussion about actual feelings or thoughts. If you're
pointing out a fact, such as "daddy's in the garage" make sure you skip the "I
think" so that your kid can clearly identify things.
"I'm sorry, but it's
time to go home" is something I often hear parents say, but not only does this
ingrain in their kids a need to apologize for everyday actions, but also the
notion that home cannot be as fun as the playground.
Master the Metaphor
Using metaphors and
similes is a wonderful way to expand young vocabularies and minds. They also teach children
how to express concepts in fun and colorful ways and improve mental
My father—who spoke to
us in German—was wonderful at using metaphors, and I remember many of them
clearly. "That man was as round as a blueberry!" was one of my all-time
favorites. It painted such a great picture, and did so in a lighthearted way.
His many stories of why
germs getting into a scraped knee were like the Greeks taking over the city of
Troy, and why water turning into ice is like us relaxing and taking up the
whole couch, helped me grow into an effective communicator who can easily explain
Being able to appropriately express emotions both verbally and physically will enable your children to live self aware and well-adjusted lives, and to make great impressions on everyone they interact with.
Don't Be Senselessly Negative
Not everything in life
will be hunky dory, but if you speak about your partner, your work and other
day-to -day things with a negative tone, you're coloring your kid's rose-colored
glasses black. Whenever I catch myself
being a downer at the end of the day, I quickly add a reaffirming phrase. For
example: "I had a really hard day at work today,… but I got a lot done!" or
"Your dad never picks up after himself… looks like you and I will have to teach
By using such positive
phrases, you not only teach your child a positive outlook on life, but also a
proactive approach to resolving issues that will make them a favorite in school
and work alike.
Many studies have found
that paralingual communications are so much more important than our actual
words. So ask yourself: Are you teaching your kid that you can pay attention
even while playing with your phone? Are you telling your kids that they are bad
boys while hugging them? Are you lying to your kids about not being sad, when
tears are streaming down your face?
Being able to
appropriately express emotions both verbally and physically will enable your
children to live self aware and well-adjusted lives, and to make great
impressions on everyone they interact with.
Did you know that
sweetly saying terrible things to children has been linked to sociopathic
tendencies? Sweetly telling your little angel that you could just kill them for
something stupid that they did could land them on the couch, or worse, so drop
those things from your vocabulary ASAP!
And while you're at it,
you should also get rid of words like awesomesauce, boo-yeah, amazeballs (which
I recently heard a three-year old boy tell his mom!) because they already sound
silly now, and that's not going to change, ever.
Stop Singing Your Words
Singing is wonderful,
but saying everything in a sing-song way with a raised inflection at the end of
sentences is the pet peeve of most employers, and perhaps more importantly, is
a gateway to whining. So I'm telling you now, without inflection: stop it.