13 September 2011

A word of advice, okay?

Tonight at the soccer field I listened to a mother interacting with her child and it reminded me of one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received.

When I was in my Water Safety Instructor course (the American Red Cross certification that allows you to teach swimming lessons) the trainer told us," Don't end your sentences with 'okay'?".   For example, I should say "swim to the other side" NOT "swim to the other side, okay?"

When we add "okay" to the end of a sentence we are asking the listener's permission.  As parents, teachers or leaders we need to give clear instructions.  When we add "okay" to the end of our sentences we magically transform them into questions instead of statements, thus allowing the listener to the possibility of denying our request.

If you want to confirm that the listener heard and understood what you were saying try something else.  I say to my kids : "You need to clean up the basement please. Got it?"  They will usually respond with "yes" or "what" or "wahhhhhh, I don't want to."  The responses tell me a) if they were listening to me (or ignoring me) and b) that they understand the task.  For an older crowd you might try something like, "We need to pick up all of these boxes move them to the next room.  Any questions?"

That advice was invaluable not only in teaching years of swimming lessons and lifeguarding courses, but also in student teaching in a Jr. High, serving as a young women leader, leading groups of adults at church and school and with my own kids.  So, the next time you're wondering why your child says no to your request, think for a minute:  Did I just ask them IF they wanted to do that.  Maybe a simple change in wording will help your sanity.

1 comment:

Janny said...

That's some pretty good advice. I find myself saying, "sound good?" and "okay?" ALL the time. I think it will take a deliberate effort to change my ways.

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