Several years ago I was having lunch with my grandson, Sam, at Chick-fil-A. He was only six years old at the time, but he is full of life. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was a little boy. I always try to be fully rested and have lots of time on my hands whenever I am with Sam because I know it is going to be a great experience!
Sam likes to be in charge of some things, so I am always looking for opportunities to give him a leadership role.
On this particular day, I told him that if he ate all of his lunch he would be able to have an ice cream cone. So, when we finished eating, I gave him two one-dollar bills and asked him to go get both of us an ice cream cone. He just stood there and stared at me. I could see confusion all over his face. He squinted his eyes and looked at me as though he was totally confused. I wondered what could be so hard about going to get two ice cream cones, so I asked, “Is something wrong?”
Sam looked at me and said, “Well…would it be okay if we got some ice cream for the cones?”
I started laughing because I suddenly realized that to a six year old an “ice cream cone” does not automatically come with ice cream on it! Technically, he was right. An ice cream cone is a cone. You can go to the grocery store and buy a whole box of ice cream cones and absolutely none of them will have ice cream on them! You have to put the ice cream on the cone in order for it to be complete. That was the picture that Sam had in his young mind. Yet, I thought I was being perfectly clear.
By the way, do any of you know what I do for a living? I am a professional communicator! I stand up and speak to people because I am an expert in being clear in everything that I say! Ha! Ha! Now Sam was helping me understand that to a child, an ice cream cone may also need some ice cream on top of it.
I laughed and pulled him close to me as I hugged him and told him that I thought that was so funny. He still had this puzzled look on his face like, “What is so funny about that? I just want to know if I can have some ice cream on my cone.” Then I began to explain to him that in a restaurant, an ice cream cone automatically came with ice cream. The ice cream and the cone were not two items but they were actually one. So, I bragged on him for helping me to become clearer in my communication skills. He seemed to be happy and proud that he had taught “Paw Paw” a good lesson.
Now that may seem like a simple illustration to you, but the point of this Tip is very simple: I think one of the most important things that I do to help me communicate more clearly and effectively with adults is to spend time talking to children. You see, a child will help you to know whether you are being clear or not. Many times, we as adults, take things for granted when in reality we are only confusing the people to whom we are talking. Adults are sometimes too shy or embarrassed to say that they have no idea what others are talking about. But, not a child! They will let you know very quickly that you are being confusing to them. If you want to be a better communicator, I suggest you sit down and spend some time with a child. They will help you to see whether or not you are being clear in what you say.
I have had many compliments on the Tip of the Week over the years. People tell me they enjoy reading them because they are so easy to understand and so practical. Well, this week I am finally revealing my “well-kept secret”. It is because I spend time with children. I would suggest you do the same. It will help you to be clearer in all that you do and say!
Tip: Every adult needs a child to teach; it’s the way adults learn best!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm
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