On May 27, we will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. She intrigued me when we first met. She continues to intrigue and educate me after knowing her for nearly twenty-two years.
In addition to our anniversary, both of our daughters have birthdays in May. As the school year comes to a close, we also have many events to attend. The last few days have been incredibly full and hectic in our home. As a result, I don't remember the exact day this event happened, which daughter was involved, or even the specifics of the behavior that triggered Sandra's response. I just remember what she said and the powerful lesson in her words.
One of our daughters did or said something that disturbed Sandra. She didn't like something that happened. Maybe it was the tone, the word choice, the slow response, or the failure to complete a task. The specific issue was minor enough that the details surrounding it don't stand out among the other events of the last week. It's how Sandra responded that really stuck with me.
After a moment of frustration, Sandra turned to me and said: “What have I done or said to teach her that behavior?”
In general, our kids are fantastic. We very seldom have cross words with them. However, we are still parents and they are still teenagers. The occasional tense moment happens.
In this situation, Sandra totally exemplified the communication and leadership principles that we both strive diligently to teach and model. She took full responsibility for the situation, and she looked to what she can control – herself – rather than to something she cannot – another person.
As you go through this week, I'm guessing that you will have at least one or two situations where communication breaks down and emotions escalate. When it happens, remember what Sandra did and ask yourself what you might have done to contribute to the situation rather than move to blaming the other person.