5 more things my kids taught me about work (and life)

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Just over two months ago I decided to step into the world of HR blogging. I had only been back at work for around six weeks following maternity leave for my third child. Two months on and it feels like I’ve never been away, both with regards to work and the blog.

For someone who’s career minded and doesn’t want to miss out on raising their children, working part time was a difficult decision to take. It’s like dipping a toe into each but never fully diving in. But I’m striving to make it work.

Having reached this small milestone, and starting to settle in and feel more comfortable, I was thinking back to my first ever blog “5 things my kids taught me about work (and life)” as I was bathing my kids. I’m lucky I get to spend so much time with them, and there’s so much they teach me. Here’s five more skills to add to my original list.

Creativity
They can make something out of anything and see the potential in everything. The simplest of objects – pegs, kitchen utensils, boxes – become people, a cafe, a racing car. They’re creativity knows no bounds. They don’t need fancy gimmicks or expensive toys to make the most out of life.

Creativity can easily be quashed in the workplace if innovation isn’t encouraged and supported. We need to welcome and reward employees for thinking outside the box and provide opportunities to consider challenges from new and different angles.

Understanding non verbal communication
We take the time to try to understand young children’s wants and needs. We get down to their level in order to interpret all the clues they are attempting to give us. Body language is a key for babies and toddlers, and as parents we gain an understanding of our children, even before they can talk.

We would think that adults, unlike young children, could harness the power of language to clearly tell us their wants and needs, but often that is not the case. We need to be adept at interpreting the non-verbal cues of colleagues and customers in order to assess what they really think and feel.

Relationships are key
Children have an innate ability to build strong relationships, and understood that is the way to get what they need. My kids are surely better than any manager in manipulating me to get what they want! I fetch and carry for them and provide them with the love and attention they need because we have built up a bond.

I’m a big believer of the power of trust in working relationships too. The best way to achieve is through collaboration, which works much better when there is a strong bond.

Quick to anger, quick to forgive
I’m not suggesting we allow ourselves and others to freely express anger. In fact quite the opposite. Shouting and aggressive behaviour is unacceptable in the workplace no matter what the circumstances. Toddlers (and occasionally some grown ups) might throw a tantrum, but as adults we learn that is not the way to get what we want. The power of skills such as calmness and self control cannot be underestimated.

But while children may be quick to anger, they are also quick to forgive and, quite literally, forget. That’s something we can all learn from.

Willingness to learn
Kids are naturally inquisitive and want to know how things work. Although they can easily get frustrated, they often go back to problems again and again until they are solved. Once they’ve got the hang of it, they’ll try it over and over, just to make sure!

If only we could harness the same natural inquisitiveness and willingness to learn, minus the frustration. Rather than forgetting all about that training course, we need to practice by implementing and building on what we learned.

After a hard day at work, it’s great to have my children teach me something new – a new idea, a new perspective, a new way of looking at things. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Photo credit: That would be me.

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