Sunday, November 22, 2009

village, people....

I've been thinking about how we attempt to persuade people to do (or not do) things. This morning the thought is fresh in my mind because I'm a parent and most of my time is spent persuading my little people to do (or not do) things.

And also because someone at work sent out a company-wide message with the subject line "It takes a village..." and a body that continues:

to keep a kitchen clean.

Please note that we don't employee a Kitchen clean-up crew but we do employee a number of people that use the shared Kitchens....

Besides possibly belonging on a site like this one, the message struck me as largely counter-productive. I doubt anyone will change their habits in any way, due to the message. I suspect the more likely result will be exactly the opposite of what is desired.

I once worked with a manager who made a suggestion when one of her employees complained that others on the team weren't doing their share: Lift a little less. By that she meant, if you're carrying the load, others won't bother, and they may not even be aware that they aren't doing their share. From their point of view, everything is getting done, so obviously things are good. I think that lesson could apply here.

As a parent, my daily need to persuade is only going to increase as my girls get older and more definite in their own opinions.

Right now we persuade using humor and redirection and ignoring and sometimes by putting our feet down and insisting that K&L do things as we're asking.

Redirection will become less effective as their awareness increases. Putting our feet down even more so (less so?). Humor though, can continue to work, when applied properly. That and a foundation of trust and respect.

I hope we're building that foundation of respect with the girls. I suppose we won't know for years, if at all. But luckily M is a fantastic role model, and with luck the girls will continue to listen to us and to take our suggestions/recommendations/requests seriously. If not, we'll start posting photos on the refrigerator, letting them know what they're supposed to do.

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