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Treat Your Coworkers Like Your Kids

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Shari Storm: The first time I left my baby in a daycare, I spent my morning commute sobbing. The second day I dropped my baby off at daycare, I spent my morning commute sobbing and my lunch hour searching the Internet for strategies on coping with one of the hardest things working mothers face -- leaving your child in the care of another person.

mother kissing and holding baby

A great piece of advice I found suggested that your daily daycare pickup should be a special time for your child. Focus on them exclusively and be visibly happy to see them when you walk through the door. At all of the daycares I have used, there is always a fair amount of distractions at the pickup time -- coats to gather, forms to sign, caregivers to check in with, not to mention a horde of other children vying for attention. When I walk through the door, my focus immediately fixates on my daughter. I smile broadly and exclaim, "OOOHHHH! I missed you today." She runs to me and I gather her in my arms, bury my head in her neck, and say, "Oh! You grew at school today!" Every day is the same ritual and every day she laughs and hugs me back.

Could this advice be used at the office? Well ... picking up your coworkers probably isn't appropriate, but smiling broadly when they walk into your office and giving them a moment of undivided attention can have long-lasting effects that you may never have imagined.

Kristiina Hiukka, owner and founder of Big Agenda Coaching, once had a professor in Finland who made a tremendous impact on her. "When I went to her office to discuss my project, she turned off her phone, shut her door, and focused all of her attention on me. I realized, being a recipient of someone's undivided attention, how powerful that can be. No matter what age we are, we all have the need to feel that it is important we are around."

Years later, Kristiina saw her professor again and told her the life lesson she had learned from her. The professor rolled her eyes. "Oh! I wish you could tell that to everyone I work with. So many people don't take the time to listen to others. There are so many distractions -- with cell phones and e-mails and BlackBerrys. It is like machines are more important than people these days."

I was on the phone this morning with someone and I could tell they were reading their e-mails as they were trying to talk with me. I felt so ... so ... unimportant. That is a terrible way to feel.

Don't make others feel that way. Most people only take a moment of your day. Listening to them with full attention is not that hard. If they start to take up too much of your time, simply use a polite exit strategy, like saying, "It's so great talking with you. I'm under a deadline so I need to go. I'll chat with you later."

We never outgrow our need to feel important.


next: Can Wilderness Camps Kill Your Kid?
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kimiko Mainer December 31, 2010, 2:16 AM

You made some good points there. I did a search on the issue and found a good number of people will agree with your blog.


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