Fire and fire

A required skill as a parent of a toddler is an ability to cycle through diaper changes with minimum fuss. Sometimes, these end up being a joy because your toddler is willing to humor you. But, the real test is how you respond when they decide to fight it. How do you respond when faced with fire?

My natural reaction is to face fire with fire and just insist she gets it done. But, as you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well with her. Besides, as she grows bigger and stronger, it is evident that it isn’t a winning strategy anyway.

The trick with influencing kids is to be adept at distracting them. That doesn’t come naturally to me. So, I frequently find myself starting with the forceful reaction and then changing course. This morning, I managed an abrupt transition from “C’mon – just get this done already” to a song that worked like a charm.

I first came across the quote “when tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department uses water” seven years ago. It is incredibly relevant to me and is one I think about every time I feel I reacted inappropriately to conflict. The challenge with changing your default reactions is that it isn’t easy to “practice” these responses easily. And, without practice, you don’t ever really learn to change that behavior.

But, thanks to these diaper changes, I have an opportunity to work on this every day.

Here’s to getting better.

It probably doesn’t need force

There’s an unsaid rule when you are assembling an appliance or a piece of furniture – the right tools and technique work much better than force.

If you’ve tried applying a lot of force to align edges or to ram screws into pre-drilled holes, you’ve experienced this. When force seems to be the only way through, it is likely you need to go back to the manual or find a different tool.

It turns out that solving people problems isn’t all that different. While there is the rare occasion when force is useful, for the most part, it serves as an indicator that you are doing something wrong. Technique in working with people is making the effort to understand those you are seeking to influence and employing a combination of humor, care, systems and thoughtfulness.

When in doubt, choose tools and technique over force.