Yesterday, my wife had an interchange with my oldest daughter that did not go very well. I only heard part of it, but I heard enough to know that they experienced a brief conflict.
As I took my daughter to school, I managed to “unpack” her frustration so that we could solve the problem. Through discussion with my daughter, I learned that my wife had offered a solution to a situation at school that my daughter heard as critical of her actions. Please catch this key point: my wife offered a solution, my daughter heard a criticism.
Neither one of them wanted a conflict. Both of them wanted the day to start smoothly. In the rush of getting out the door early in the morning, their communication wires got crossed. No bad intentions were involved. It was just a case of poor communication.
One person thinks and speaks in a direct, bottom-line, “solve the problem” fashion (my wife). The other person thinks and speaks in an indirect, step-by-step, process oriented fashion (my oldest daughter). Both of them want the relationship to work. And both of them have moments of frustration with the other. It's just a normal, everyday situation.
When I returned home from taking my daughters to school, I discussed the situation with my wife. She openly embraced my observations about our daughter's perspective without becoming defensive, and she took action to correct the miscommunication as soon as she saw our daughter in the afternoon. My wife took responsibility for the communication breakdown rather than blaming my daughter.
This learning point ties directly to this Monday's Momentum Message where I asked you to question yourself and your results. My wife did not get the result she wanted, and she immediately questioned her perspective. She looked for ways under her control to correct the situation. As a result, she is building positive momentum into her relationship with our daughter.
Thought for Thursday: Identify the areas in your interactions with others where you subtly (maybe even unintentionally) blame them for problems between you. Then, take the responsibility for fixing the breakdown.