I was on our morning walk with Caryn at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate and we came across a young family. Mom and Dad with their 4 boys ranging at my estimate between 2-7 years old. They had paper airplanes that they were playing with. One of the younger boys grabbed the hand of the older boy preventing him from throwing it. This soon resulted in the both of them crying. The younger crying in what seemed to be an attention seeking rage and the older from sheer frustration as he was trying to prevent his plane from breaking, and of course, he wanted to throw the plane and enjoy watching it fly. Now I must compliment the parents there, they were calmly managing the situation (although I imagine they were getting pretty annoyed themselves).
This got me thinking about how all kids (mine included) would stop the other from enjoyment. I find it amazing how we do not teach our children to be selfish or spiteful. Children pretty much do that naturally, without the assistance of parents. What parents do is encourage their children to share, wait their turn, be generous. This is where we need to develop our Response-Ability. In the scenario above, the parents were saying be nice, you have your own plane, let your brother enjoy his. Responding in a way that would get their young boys to understand that with a bit of patience, they will all enjoy the time together. The alternative could have been the parents shouting and ranting – you kids! That’s it we’re going home now! Gimme those paper planes I am throwing them away.
In the words of Dale Carnegie, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” The parents reacting does not teach the boys to play nice or wait their turn. They have been convinced against their will and feel that the it’s the other brother at fault.
Our ability to give a response will serve us better than merely reacting. Do you find that you REACT more than RESPOND in certain situations? I know that I am working really hard at improving in this area. Here is what we are encouraging business leaders and young adults to do in our ‘Effective Communication & Human Relations’ Program.
- Reflect: Ask yourself, what do I think and why do I think that? This allows us to apply our mind to the knowledge and or experience we have gained to what we want to say.
- Story of Evidence: Based on our reflection (what I think & why I think that) we can now share a story to make our point. This will be based on the knowledge and evidence we have, allowing us to speak our truth.
- Respond using the story of evidence: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a story is worth a thousand pictures. Start with the story of evidence because the moment we give an opinion, the other person stops listening and they will not truly connect to what we are saying because they are preparing to counter your actual opinion statement.
Personal Example from above: Boys fighting over paper planes:
- Reflect: I think it is annoying (WHAT) and quite frankly mommy and daddy came here to relax and enjoy family time together. This behavior is creating stress and could become embarrassing (WHY) for all of us.
- Story of Evidence: When we were at home folding the paper planes, we were going to see how far the planes could fly. Daddy was going to measure the distance and teach you how best to launch the plane when you throw it. We were all excited and now we are not doing what we had planned.
- Respond using the story of evidence: boys, booooys, BOYS!!…when we were at home, we were going to see how far the folded planes could fly. Daddy was going to measure the distance and see who’s could go the furthest. We were all so excited. Let’s quickly wipe our tears and re-fold the planes as best we can. Then mommy will count, and we can throw it at the same time. Daddy will fetch them. I think if we do that, we will all have fun together.
Business Example: Missing a Virtual Sales meeting:
- Reflect: It’s frustrating when one person misses the SALES meeting because then the entire team is not on the same page. We waste time catching up and reviewing the recording doesn’t allow for the individual to contribute.
- Story of Evidence: When I first joined the company as a sales consultant Mr. De Beer shared how vital the sales meetings were. I found that often the tips and training techniques I got in the sales meetings are what equipped me to offer a better solution and justify value over price.
- Respond using the story of evidence: You know Jonathan, one of my mentors was Mr. Kat De Beer. He was adamant about us being in the sales meeting. I didn’t always appreciate why we had to be in the meetings. What I can share is that as I developed in my career, I found that my largest, most profitable clients were secured as a result of the training techniques and tips that were covered in the sales meetings we had. The conversations and engagement also allowed us to bond better and as a team we developed a sales growth culture amongst us. It bolstered my confidence and was an enabler for success. For this reason, we need you in the virtual meetings so that we can all grow as a team.
It is important for us to remember that we are 100 % in control of how we choose to respond. Apply your mind to a situation that requires you to improve your Response-Ability. Use these three simple steps intentionally and you will come across more persuasive and enhance the mood of your environment.