Yes, I am an expert and experienced dad. 53 days to be exact. And while it’s true that I have full blown case of mushy dad syndrome, there are actual workplace lessons we can learn from my adorable* daughter. As much as I’d love to say that I entertain my little peanut every minute of the day, her face often tells me otherwise. Here are four-and-a-half lessons about non-verbals that I’ve picked up from an 8-week-old:
- Just because she’s smiling doesn’t mean she thinks you’re funny… it could just be gas. As a keynote speaker, this lesson is perhaps the most humbling. Did my presentation really make them laugh or were they all just being polite? Or worse yet, was everyone in the audience farting? Look closely at those around you. You might think you’re funny, but you just might be the boss… and the boss always gets a sympathy laugh, as promotions may very well depend on it.
- You may think she is looking at you, but she could be looking through you. Early in my fathering career – you know, since I’m a 53-day expert now – I thought my daughter was incredibly gifted at eye contact. But upon further review, most of the time she’s just zoning out. This discovery had me doing an inventory of all the conversations I’ve ever had with my co-workers through the years: Were they listening when I was speaking or if they were mentally going through their grocery list?
- She might not know she’s yelling at you. One of the joys of fatherhood is hearing loss due to a cute and cuddly moment suddenly erupting into a screaming session. Obviously, a baby isn’t considering your feelings and frankly, the same might be true of your co-workers. We are all working in our own lane and sometimes somebody might inadvertently say something that is hurtful/annoying/just plain mean. Unless there is a trend with your co-worker behavior, perhaps it’s best to let it roll off and give them a few pats on the back until they burp.**
- There could be more than one problem. Just because you’ve changed the diaper, doesn’t mean she’s not still hungry. The world doesn’t always grasp this axiom: More than one thing can be true. You may have brought in the bagels this morning but that doesn’t make up for being a buttface yesterday.
And four-and-a-half: Past performance does not guarantee future results. So I calmed my baby this time! This doesn’t mean that it’s going to work the next time. And the same thing is true with communication. Repeating the same message like a record can reduce the impact. And also, repeating the same message like a record can reduce the impact.
*Sources cited: Grandma and Aunt Gertie.
** This is a metaphor. Do not attempt.