When you strive to improve as a leader in your home, you will face challenges that make you feel like you are not progressing.
The truth is, anyone can lead when things are rosy and everything is going well.
It's how you respond to the storms that will set you apart.
There's one mantra that has saved many of my work relationships with clients, colleagues, and employees.
And it's also done a lot to help save relationships with my family.
But first, I want to tell you a story and give you some background.
Entering a Hot Zone
During my corporate journey, I worked for a company that helped families find caregivers to support their children with developmental disabilities.
There was an instance where a parent called somebody on my team in anger. The parent was furious that they still didn't have a caregiver to support their child. I was asked to get involved.
Now I'd heard the background and the story from my team member’s perspective. But it was also important that I got the story from this client's perspective. So I got on the phone and I asked them what was going on. They shared their story from their perspective. And a lot of the details were the same.
One thing I knew for my team member was this client had given several very detailed requests about the caregiver they wanted. Side note: anytime you put a lot of detailed parameters on searching for someone, it's going to limit the pool from which you have to choose.
I began to ask about the specifics they were looking for, and why they were important.
It didn't take long to figure out the client was only describing their ideal caregiver but was completely open to someone that didn't meet all of those ideals.
The way the previous communication had gone, my team member thought each ideal was absolutely required.
And the client thought that they were just expressing a best case scenario and that whomever was close would be sent.
Once we realized what the holdup was, we began to prioritize the client’s dream list. We got clear on what was actually necessary, and what was really just something that would be a nice bonus.
We found a caregiver in less than 24 hours, and the parent became a loyal client for years.
But we almost lost that client, we almost lost that business, simply because there was a lack of understanding.
Never Assume You Know the Whole Story
You’re around your family a lot. You live with them. You grow older with them. And as a result, you think you already know the story… that you already know what’s going on.
Many begin to assume they are the real victim of a misunderstanding.
The truth is, we need to slow down. We need to listen.
In Stephen Covey's book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, habit number five teaches “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
The trick here is to understand the individual from their perspective… to understand them from within the context of their own experiences.
Not from your perspective. Not from your experiences. But from theirs.
You can do this by acknowledging what they say, and then asking the right kind of follow up questions.
Here are examples of how you can do both:
“I hear what you're saying. Can you tell me more about…?”
“I can see how that would make you feel that way. What else can you share about that?”
“I'm starting to see what you're saying better. Could you explain [topic/idea/challenge/emotion] again to make sure I'm getting the whole picture?”
“This is clearly important to you so I want to make sure I'm on the same page. It sounds like you're saying [topic/idea/challenge/emotion]. Am I on the right track?”
And I'll tell you another trick… the heart that you put into this will directly correlate with your results.
If we go back to the first example, “I hear what you're saying. Can you tell me more about…?” Think of all the different tones, voice inflections, facial expressions, and more that can influence how you say that.
The Fact is, how you phrase it… your heart, your intent that you're putting behind it… that may be one of the biggest differences between whether or not you see success or failure.
Please listen close… your family wants you to be the support and the love that they believe you can be.
They want you to be successful.
They want these wins to take place.
So put your trust, put your heart into it.
A Solution for Today
Lead your family by seeking to understand the individuals in your home from their perspective.
The next time some type of storm starts to rise within your home, regardless of how small or how large, here's what I want you to do:
- Slow down. Step back from the idea that you already understand exactly what's going on.
- Acknowledge the other person. Let them know it's important to you that you better understand what they're saying.
- Invite them to share more.
- Listen with the intent to understand. Not to solve. Not to correct. Not to just get it over with so you can go back to what you were doing… But to really understand what they are thinking and feeling from their perspective. You do that by asking the supportive questions I gave as examples earlier.
- Let the process play out. Don't worry about the results. Don't worry about the timing of things. Don't worry about where this is going to register on your success meter and whether or not you can check it off your list of things that you're now good at to lead in your home. Just let go. Let go and let the process play out.
Remember much of your success as a leader in your home is defined by how you keep your family emotionally and spiritually connected during the storms of life both big and small.
It's important that you make understanding your family members the priority of your conversation by acknowledging them, asking supportive questions and listening.
Start small and give yourself some grace as you take what you know how to do at work, and you apply the heart and the love to leading in your home.
PS – Each Thursday at 9 am Pacific I will be live on Facebook @thejoepomeroy to answer questions, provide support, and cheer on your successes as you implement the material from the podcast. So set a reminder and I'll see you live this coming Thursday at 9 am Pacific on Facebook, @thejoepomeroy.