Kids and Cooperation

I’m a big advocate of cooperation. In the process of encouraging cooperation, one demonstrates many other skills too: politeness, negotiation, confidence, courage, clarity of desire. And besides, isn’t life just one big stew of opportunities that require cooperation from others in some way? 

Creating a cooperative environment is a multi-pronged process. Seeing cooperation in action and practicing daily yields many benefits. It’s surprising how many other facets of personal integrity are demonstrated alongside striving to operate in a cooperative mode. Below are a few starter ideas

  • I’ve laid a strong foundation for cooperation as a family and why I think it’s important. I tell the kids “I cooperate with you, and you cooperate with me” and ”you cooperate with me, and I’ll cooperate with you” quite often.
    • I’m sure to not just say it when I need/want them to do something for me in the moment but also when I do something for them that they asked for help with (for example I’ll say, “I’m happy to do this for you because you so nicely did that for me”).
    • I did it lightly in a sing-song voice when they were little. Now that they are older I do it more in a we-are-two-individuals-making-a-deal-that-will-be-good-for-us-both voice.
    • I also do it as a 30 sec value statement periodically when we are just sitting around together. I reflect out loud: “I’m so glad our family cooperates so well. We get to do so many awesome things together, and that’s cool. I’m lucky you are my family.” To which they will invariably say something like “You’re awesome too, Mom,” which is fun.
  • I do a lot of “thinking out loud” when they ask me for something (especially when they were younger), “Well, this is an inconvenient time for me to help make that happen for you but since you were able to blah, blah, blah for me earlier I can change my plans and make an effort to do this to help you now. Give me 30 minutes to wrap up here.”
  • After laying this foundation is when they heard their first “no” from me about things they really wanted. I felt justified in saying, “Remember when you choose not to do blah to help me yesterday? Well, you didn’t cooperate with me, so I’m not interested in making effort to help you with this now.” Very quickly they saw why it was worth it cooperate with me. I only had to do it once maybe twice per kid. Now we talk it all out and come to terms we can all agree with and follow through on.
  • When they were very young I made certain to never deal with a fit thrower. I would say, “Are you throwing a fit? Because if so, the answer is absolutely no. I don’t deal with fit-throwers.” When we were playing somewhere and they didn’t want to leave I would say, “You can cooperate with me now or I for sure won’t want to bring you back next time you want to come here.” Then I would cheer them in the moment telling them they are doing a good job settling down and how that is not easy and how I’m real proud of their effort and that I’ll be happy to blah again if they would like. Also, if they could calmly ask for more time, I would make a deal with them. I might say, “What do you still want to do?” or “How much more time do you need?” and come to an agreement. It’s fun to restate the agreement, tell them they have a deal, and “shake on it” too once they are used to the process.
    • First couple times, my girl would take deep, dramatic breaths and have difficulty getting words out but she kept trying and I kept waiting and supporting. Now that never happens (she is 8). She can say what she needs to say. She can even say, “Well, I really want to blah but I can see you don’t really want to so it’s okay.” Then I can say, “We could blah at such and such a time” or “how about blah instead?”
    • My boy was never so dramatic. He was (and still is) more likely to lapse into angry silence. In our house, it has been established that angry silence and dirty looks and silent treatment are also variations on fit throwing (aka immature communication that one can learn skills to improve upon and thus learn to “use their charm” with much success instead). So in the case of quiet/introverted fit throwing, I still approach with “are you throwing a fit?”
    • For my son, I try to coax him out of it the same way, “Calm yourself and say what you need to say. I’m listening.” He might say, “You will be mad about what I say” then I say, “Give it to me straight anyway, talk with a kind tone and phrase it as nicely as you can while still giving it to me straight and I’ll do my best to keep my cool.” Another thing he might say is “I’m not ready to talk about it yet.” To which I say, “Thanks for letting me know. When you are ready, I’ll listen.” These days, he’s often able to say, “It’s okay, mom. I was mad a second, but I’m getting over it.” To which I say, “Great job!” without asking for further detail because that’s his way of saying “I was mad, but I realize now that it really is no big deal.”
    • I talk to both my kids a lot about how important it is to keep their cool and I hold myself to that standard. When I do loose my cool, I apologize as soon as I can do it sincerely. I also “think out loud” about how it is difficult sometimes. “Ugh, I’m just so frustrated this or that person was rude. Guess they were having a bad day. I’m glad it’s not contagious! I don’t have to be upset too.”
  • As a parent, identify areas of no compromise. For example, one no compromise area for us is about safety gear on bikes and scooters because my son is a daredevil. All I have to say is, “That’s a safety issue.” Then off the kid goes to get his helmet.
    • Another example might be about attending church. If going to church is a family value that you need to be upheld, then you tell your child, “You can go with a good attitude, or you can go with a bad attitude, but you’re going. This is an issue of such importance to me because blah, blah, blah. I appreciate it if you choose to go with a good attitude.” If you need him to go whether he wants to or not, then you are asking for cooperation from him to have a good attitude.

Other personal values are easily demonstrated and practiced alongside focusing on cooperation so intensely. Things such as honesty and the importance of keeping your word and how trust builds from that and the benefits that come from being trusted.

  • For example, a kid says he wants to go to the movie with the family when plans are being made then he wants to back out at the last minute.
    • If he didn’t want to go in the first place but didn’t say so when you were planning then he is not being honest. Being honest about whether he wants to go is important for planning purposes. Does he want you to be honest with him? Then he should be honest with you. So give him an example, if you tell him you will take him somewhere that he really wanted to go but then at the last minute you decide you don’t want to, then how would he feel? Would he feel like you were honest? How would he feel?

Practicing cooperation is valuable. Kids learn to listen closely while at the same time checking in with their own wants and desires. They will be more present in their communication in general. They learn to speak up for what they want in a way that helps them be heard better and have a better chance of getting it.

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Sports, Integrity, Life

Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose —it teaches you about life. -Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King has it right regarding sports teaching about character and life. The player has the opportunity to face the anxiety (aka fear) and respond with integrity (aka love). Doesn’t mean they will but it also doesn’t mean they won’t learn to respond with integrity eventually even if a hard fall is required first. People are always learning even if they don’t mean to. Life is one big experiment that way.

Sports aren’t the only places to learn to face the fear and respond with integrity, of course. Lessons come for everyone through one life arena or another: family, school, health, relationships. We can choose to be authentic in our daily interactions and activities. There are opportunities on a daily basis for each of us to choose integrity and good reasons for doing so even if it means “losing” in the interim. The biggest reasons for doing so are to know your true self, to stretch your own personal limits, and to live the whole-hearted beauty of an authentic life.

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On Negativity

People can be real jerks sometimes. I know you know that. Just because someone else is choosing to feel miserable or to be negative doesn’t mean you have to let that invade your energy level. You don’t have to focus on that. You can maintain your vibrational position so that they don’t bring you down to their’s. Here’s the trick: Use their negativity as a reminder.

  • Use it as reminder of how you don’t want to be and why. Hint: One has to be feeling pretty bad to be so negative.
  • Remember that they are free to create just like you are.
  • Use it to remind you of the opposite emotion or vibration and how you do want to feel. This is a technique called “Pivoting” that Esther Hicks coined years ago.
  • Use it to be thankful of the wisdom you have about how the universe works. Hint: Think Law of Attraction.
  • Use it to set intentions for how you want to feel going forward.
  • Use it to remember the importance of controlling your focus.

For example, if someone treats you badly or is negative or gruff, instead letting them dominate the airwaves, use them as a cue in your own mind to think, “Boy, do I appreciate that I’m not miserable or upset or angry like that person.” And then maybe think something like, “That reminds me that I always want to be kind, that I want to be happy, gentle, and kind,” and “It makes me appreciate the goodness I notice in most people.” This reaction is better then getting hung up focusing on their negativity which would certainly bring your vibe down and cause you to notice more negativity in the future.

To the extent that you can clear that type of negativity out of your zone, all the better but it’s not necessary. Even in ongoing relationships, it just takes one person shining brightly to dominate with positive vibes and uplift others by doing so. A big part of it is to realize that you don’t have control of them and what they are choosing to focus on. And, it takes unconditional love. They don’t have to be different in order for you to love them. Understand, they are doing the best they can in the moment, just like you are. Don’t even waste your energy trying to change them. Love them where they are. Keep a light focus if you don’t like what you see, or look the other way. Know they can rise to meet you on a higher level of vibration whenever they want to. They may want to sooner rather then later when they see how much fun you are having up there!

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We typically don’t practice interviewing very often yet each interview we do have is pretty important. Here are three quick tips for interview preparation.

Tip 1 – It is best to think of an interview as a two-way discussion. Yes, often a stressful discussion but remember not only are they checking you out, you are checking them out. In fact, one of the most important actions you can take to prepare for an upcoming interview is to research the company. It is easier than ever to get on the internet, enter a search word and come up with relevant information. Most companies have a web page of their own where you can read up on company history and recent press releases. Be thinking about questions you can ask during the interview as well. Make relevant observations about what is going on with the company and ask your interviewer to comment. You may also want to consider asking some questions like the following.

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What do you think is the most important thing for a new hire to understand about this position? This company? Or this department?
  • Why did the previous person leave this position?
  • What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the new hire?

Tip 2 – Another good way to prepare for the interview is to put together 3-5 well thought out power stories and a couple lessons learned stories. Power stories are your stories about times that you solved problems or had a positive impact in your work. Keep your power stories in a notebook in Evernote and save them forever! These stories are very important to think about in advance of the interview for responses to behavioral interviewing questions which are used very often by skilled interviewers. Behavioral interview questions are ones that ask you to describe times in the past when you solved this or that type of problem. A good format for the stories is to describe the problem, describe the action you took, then describe the result. This is called the PAR technique for Problem, Action, Result. Once you write these stories out, list in the margin the characteristics these stories demonstrate. Then you have ready answers for some questions like “Tell me about a time when _____?” or “What is your biggest strength and why?” Don’t forget to rehearse your answers out loud. It is best to have someone ask you the questions in order to practice most effectively.

Tip 3 – One often overlooked key to good interviewing to have clear starts and stops to your questions and answers. This helps to set a good rhythm for the discussion. It also demonstrates your ability to be concise and listen to others. Don’t be afraid of a few seconds of silence after you finish your answer. A good interviewer will use silence as a tool to get you to rattle on about stuff you did not intend to reveal. Also, silence is an important tool for you to learn use as well, especially come negotiation time.

On Interviewing: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

To learn even more about strategies for job interviewing, I highly recommend the books by Carole Martin, The Interview Coach. A great one to start with is Boost Your Interview IQ.

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This is a beautifully produced spoken word presentation I found on YouTube. The words come from an unlikely source…Joe Rogan. He talks about assumptions and unanswered questions in life and how much is still a mystery. He mentions science and energy and all that we don’t know.

“It is very possible that there is more flexibility and that the world is more malleable then we think it is.” ~Joe Rogan

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