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Monday, 05 March 2012 09:39

Occasional Disagreement may Improve your Management and Parenting Skills

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Whether you run a company or a department of one, you know it is impossible to have uniform opinions about everything. So why would we expect our kids to think exactly like we do?imagine-peace-blog-5-3-5-121 Sometimes the most heartfelt discussions with your kids reach an impasse. I have at times failed to convince my daughter of something and she has failed to convince me. I don’t mean that we refused to give in to the other out of stubbornness; we legitimately did not see eye to eye. And we learned together that this was OK. It was more important to me to raise a daughter who could think for herself than to agree all the time.

What is not OK during a disagreement is to storm out of the room. My daughter tried this a few times when she was younger. We would reach that impasse in our discussion and she would get up and walk away. I was irritated with her behavior to no end, but instead of yelling, I explained to her in a stern but polite way exactly how I felt: “I expect you to treat my opinion with the same level of respect as you want me to treat yours. If you storm out when I express a viewpoint you don’t like, don’t expect me to even entertain a discussion of the next thing that is important to you. You will likely be pleading your case to my empty chair.”

Instead of venting my frustration at her, I taught her that I expected her to invest in our relationship in exactly the same way I did.  I explained that because I always treated her with the respect I believed she deserved, I expected the same treatment in return and that the reciprocity was not optional.

As a boss or manager, you can talk about the things that irritate you with colleagues at your level or above you. If your practice is to unload your frustrations on your subordinates, you automatically lose their respect and your ability to lead them. Of course all of us have let a self-contradictory comment slip out with our kids: “Didn’t you hear what I just said to you?” we’ll ask, or seem to invite further details by asking “Please explain to me how could this have happened?”  Then, when the child tries to respond or explain, we add: “Don’t talk back to me!” or “I am not interested in hearing anything that comes out of your mouth.” These silly exchanges are bound to happen now and then, but do your best to keep them to a minimum and apologize when you’ve calmed down.

Although storming out is never OK, sometimes it is best to halt the discussion if one or both of you are getting too emotional. We must remember that children are children: They get moody and struggle with controlling their tempers or their tears. Sometimes more talking will only fuel the fire; if you give the subject a rest, cooler heads will prevail.  When you choose to shelve the discussion, be deliberate with your words and set a specific point in time when you’ll both come back to the table and revisit the issue. Otherwise you will be perceived as the parent who uses a time-out to stop a discussion in hopes that your child will either forget or tire of it.

In my experience, both at work and at home, each time I suggested revisiting an unresolved issue at a later time, the other party’s first question was, “When?” When we reopened the discussion, I was always surprised and impressed that they always came back with well-thought-out arguments that, more often than not, convinced me in whole or at least in part.

This is my opinion.  It worked for me and it can work for you.  You just have to try it! 


Chris Efessiou

About Chris Efessiou:  Chris Efessiou is an entrepreneur, business leader, educator, mentor, international speaker, radio show host, and best-selling author of CDO Chief Daddy Officer: The Business of Fatherhood  based on his own experience from raising his daughter as a single dad by applying his business knowledge to the business of parenting.  Listen to Chris’s weekly Radio Show Straight Up With Chris:  Real Talk on Business and Parenthood on Voice America Radio.  You may connect with Chris on Facebook, follow on Twitter and visit