Last week I had the honor of being my great nephew’s “special person” for his school’s Special Person Day. One of the many gifts of hanging out with my 4 year old nephew are the precious teachable moments – the moments he uses to teach his Aunt KK the ways of the world.
Understand your audience. My nephew knows the first and last names of his classmates but also knows their preferences and their unique place in the classroom structure. He treated everyone with great respect and gave them his full attention when in his presence (yes, he has favorites, but by golly the kid is a diplomat).
Don’t insult the intelligence of your audience. At lunch we were discussing family members and my nephew’s bouncy little classmate asked, “Is that a boy or a girl?”
He’s a boy.”
My nephew looked at me and corrected, “He is not a boy, he’s a man.”
“Uh, well yes honey, I know, he’s a man.”
“Well if you know he is a man, why did you say he’s a boy?”
Why indeed? I tried to simplify and there was no need. Had I used the correct term it would not have gone over her head. Lesson learned.
Acknowledge others and get them engaged. When discussing favorite cartoons, my nephew allowed his two friends to voice their opinions first. He then acknowledged their choices saying he liked those too before adding a few of his own.
Listen. My nephew listens, often stopping all other activity to intently focus on what is being said. He doesn’t talk just to be heard. Watching him listen was a clear demonstration of how listening is as valuable to the conversation as spoken words.
And most important of all, every great communicator knows that sometimes words are not enough, you just have to sing, dance, hop around and celebrate for no good reason at all, as my nephew and his friends gleefully did toward the end of the day.
How about you what lessons have you learned from the wee ones in your life?