Want your teen to listen to you?
If you read much business literature, you quickly learn that LISTENING is the key to most business success. It’s THE most powerful tool in sales AND in leadership. And if you ARE striving to connect and correct your teenager’s unfortunate maladaptive behavior, you ARE selling and leading them! Listening is an area in which we as a society aren’t very strong. Research and observation clearly tell us/show us that, in the midst of a “conversation” – most people are more focused on what they will say next rather than the words of the other person. Some words of wisdom: from Steven Covey – “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Virtually all human behavior – even a teenager - is intentional. They’re doing what they’re doing PURPOSEFULLY. So the parent’s first quest should be to inquire, ask, find out – WHY… From there, the next step should be a follow-up question, digging a bit deeper. Again, keep in mind – “seek first to understand…” Until you’re clear on UNDERSTANDING, your mission is not complete. Almost never accept the first response as the whole answer. Ask a clarifying question. And ask it in a pure, unbiased manner. You are seeking information, not an indictment. Be sincere in your question, continuing to dig deeper until you’re clear.
THEN, if you need to teach something, LEAD THEM to it. As every kindergarten teacher knows, Discovery learning is the most powerful mode of learning. This is particularly relevant for teenagers because their brain functioning is still evolving. Their decision-making process is extremely fluid and easily derailed. So they need to be led, very systematically through the WHY’S and WHY NOT’S of decisions and learning – and often, more than once, frustrating as that may be! Again, ask tactful, sequential questions. Strive not to tell but rather to reveal. And at the end, ask them what they heard or found out – probably avoiding the words learning or teaching.
Good luck – and please comment with your results!