A Warning Every Father Should Read
11-17-2014 at 03:18 PM
Category: Personal Development

“Daddy, why do you talk to your clients with more respect and treat them nicer than you treat me?”

This was the question my 10 year old daughter asked me the other night. She had done something I thought she should have known how to do by her age, and I told her so. Looking back at it, I see now that I spoke harshly and rudely to her. I didn’t think anything of it at the time until she became quiet and started walking away. I stopped her and asked why she was quiet.

That’s when she dropped this bomb on me. “Daddy, why do you talk to your clients with more respect and treat them nicer than you treat me?” Ouch. I have a home office that I will use from time to time to speak with my clients. My daughter will hear these conversations.  This doesn’t bother me as she is learning by example how to conduct business, speak to a client, and so. I have seen her apply some of these learnings in her own interactions with others (including me when she’s negotiating for something she wants). What I didn’t expect was that she would turn it on me in a moment of brutal honesty.

Why do we treat other people more respectfully than we do our own family? Maybe we don’t think the stakes are high. If I spoke to a client the way I do to my family at times, that client would bolt and I wouldn’t be in business for very long. There is a high cost to my disrespect. With my family, they will not leave over a rude conversation. Perhaps over a longer period of time they might if nothing changed in my behavior, but in general, they aren’t going to leave over an occasional rude or disrespectful comment.

Perhaps I need to change my perspective on my family interactions. I should place a higher value on every interaction as if I were talking to a top client. Easy? No, but definitely worth it. Here’s why.

With each harsh word or rude comment to my daughter, her heart closes off a little bit and our relationship becomes strained. Our communication and interactions become less affectionate and personal, and more utilitarian and cold. Have you ever experienced this?

The good news is that it is not too late to turn a relationship around. Granted, the longer you have strained a relationship, the longer it takes to turn it around. Are you willing to go the distance? It starts by creating a culture in your home of openness and honesty. Think of your business or organization. If leaders are creating a culture of honest communication and feedback, the best ideas are brought forward and processes run more efficiently. There is a synergy of ideas and productivity. Your family is the same although it will play out differently.

When you ask for honest feedback from your children, listen. Don’t defend yourself or try to justify the situation. Just listen. Understand the situation from their point of view. Your words may mean one thing to you, but how are those same words interpreted by your 15 year old? What are they really hearing from you?

Next, apologize where you need to. Nobody’s perfect so own up to your mistakes and ask forgiveness. If your teenager isn’t used to hearing you say you’re sorry, it will take them by surprise. Don’t be offended if they don’t believe you. Just apologize where you need to.

Make a goal to change your behavior. Look for the reason(s) you are treating your family rudely and don’t make excuses. There is a difference between the two. Get a hold of whatever resource you need to help you to change what needs changing. For me, my reasons were a mix of work stressors and scheduling pressures. I don’t use that as an excuse, just a reason. They are both reasons that I can change in the way I respond to them, and thus, how it impacts my communication with my daughter. How about you? What can you do to nullify the reasons that are causing you to treat your family less than your best?

Here’s the warning that I got and I submit to you: You can honestly evaluate what you are doing and make changes, resulting in a more satisfying and peaceful home life, or, you can ignore the problem, blame someone or something else, and continue disintegrating your relationships, resulting in a tense, disrespectful home you would rather not live in. Your choice. My choice.

I’m choosing to change.

Jeff Orr is a Leadership Performance Coach, Business Coach, Author, and Transformational Speaker. Through his coaching company, InDemand Leadership, Jeff empowers executives, leaders and business owners to perform to their full potential without leaving anyone behind in the process. Jeff's passion for seeing leaders reach and exceed their goals comes through in his one-to-one coaching sessions, keynote speaking engagements, leadership retreats, and his book, Succeed In The New Normal.

Contact Jeff at: www.InDemandLeadership.com

Keywords: family, families, parenting, leadership, children, daughter, relationships
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