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14 Things I’ll Tell My First Child

14 Things I’ll Tell My First Child

Despite the fact that we are all rookies in life – which most of us spend waddling around on this spinning rock as it flies through space, trying not to bump into each other – we are entrusted with raising babies. I know – frightening. More so, we are supposed to impart wisdom, set rules and give them the confidence to enter the big, wide world with all the tools they need to live a happy life. So, when writer Evan Porter was told he was about to be a father, his reaction was pretty much what you’d expect.

Things I’ll Teach My First Kid – Or, 14 Reasons Why I Suck

When I found out, I was holding a six-pack of beer.

“I’m pregnant,” she said. Words I knew would be coming one day soon, but not this soon. I always pictured hearing them on a sunny front porch, wind gently rocking a wooden swing back and forth. Or something like that. And there’d be music. Something upbeat and hopeful like what plays before the final credits of a Zach Braff movie.

I never thought I’d hear those words standing in the doorway of our dark, half-packed apartment, weary from a long day. My wife, Sarah, eyes puffy and mascara-soaked from her own shitty day, and then again from crying tears of joy, holding not one, but two pregnancy tests as proof.

My first thought was that we were about to miss our fantasy football draft.

My second thought was to open a beer.

My third thought was, “I can’t believe those were my first two thoughts.”

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It takes a moment like that to realize how woefully unprepared you are to be responsible for another human being. How terrifying it all is. And I’m not talking about waking up in the middle of the night to sooth a crying baby. I’m not talking about changing a dirty diaper or saying goodbye to your “raucous” social life (Sarah and I watch, on average, ten thousand hours of TV every night; so, that shipped sailed a while ago).

I’m talking about when your child learns to talk and what you say to him or her actually matters. When you have to start really thinking about how you want to raise them. What you’ll tell them when they get picked on at school. What you’ll say when they take a philosophical stand against the concept of homework.

It makes you question your values. Or wonder if you even have values to question.

And this line of thinking has led me to believe that I am already a terrible father. Because when I think about the things I want to instill in our first child, I realize that I embody exactly none of them.

But here they are, anyway:

1. I’ll say, listen, kid, not everyone has to like you.

Speak your mind when you know you’re right. Tell friends the truth even when they don’t want to hear it. Don’t just nod and “see both sides” and give pity laughs to people who make bad jokes.

2. I’ll say, work hard in school.

Not so you can make money and not for the bragging rights, but because if you don’t, one day you’ll look back and wish you’d made yourself proud.

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3. I’ll say, clean your room.

I’ll say, you see this 6-inch pile of dirty clothes next to my bed? It makes me feel horrible every time I look at it. You’d be surprised how accomplished seeing your bedroom floor can make you feel.

4. I’ll say, always finish what you started.

There’s a reason I can only teach you to be “pretty good”, and not great, at guitar, or photography, or card tricks, or any number of things I picked up and abandoned. If you have a talent for something, don’t ever waste it.

5. I’ll say, don’t wait so long to get comfortable in your own skin.

Phases are great and all when you’re a teenager, but there’s a fine line between exploring things and getting caught up in fads. Don’t ever feel like you need to fit into a mold or a category to be accepted.

6. I’ll say, take care of your body, because you only get one.

Floss every day. And don’t drink so much soda and Red Bull. You can’t ever undo the cavities they’ll give you.

7. I’ll say, force yourself to experience new things.

I know that people who studied abroad in college are obnoxious, but I don’t care; you should do it. Because when they’re yammering on about their summer in Madrid, you’ll roll your eyes but you’ll really just be jealous that you spent your summer watching TV.

8. I’ll say, don’t get so uncomfortable around homeless people.

They’re not going to rob you. Be better than that. Treat them with respect. Buy them a sandwich if you can. And give to charity as often as possible. You’ll always have a few bucks to spare.

9. I’ll say, pay attention to the news. And politics.

Don’t spend all your time on social media and TV and movies and sports. Devote your attention to things that actually matter. Be informed and well read. Don’t ever be forced to stealthily object from conversations about current events.

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10. I’ll say, be ruthless. Don’t go with the flow.

Find something you want and put in the work to become exceptional. So many people dream big, but they’re afraid to sit down and do the work. Don’t be one of them.

11. I’ll say, don’t text and drive.

Seriously. There’s nothing that can’t wait. I mean it.

12. I’ll say, put your family first, above everything.

When they need you, be there. Don’t ask questions. Don’t let being tired from work become an excuse. They’re all you have.

13. I’ll say, don’t ever wish you were anything or anyone else.

Embrace your flaws, because everyone has them.

14. And I’ll say, if you fall short of anything, even everything on this list, that’s alright.

I’ll still love you. I’ll always love you.

People keep asking me if I’m scared. And I guess  – even in light of everything I said above  – the answer is no.

I know that there’ll be times when I have no idea what to do with this kid. When I reach into my bag of morals and values and come up empty. And for times like that, I’ll look to my wife. I’ll remember how, standing in our dark, half-packed apartment, on one of the most important nights of our life, she put the pregnancy tests down on the table, smiled, and said:

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“Of course we’re still doing the fantasy draft.”

A small reminder of why we fell in love in the first place. That what we’ve created together didn’t happen in spite of our flaws.

It happened because of them.

And knowing that, there’s really nothing to be scared of.

About The Author

Evan Porter is Lead Copywriter at Nebo, a digital marketing agency in Atlanta. He’s also a blogger, a freelance writer, and a screenwriter.

Things I’ll Teach My First Kid Or, 14 Reasons Why I Suck | Medium

Featured photo credit: Ajay via flickr.com

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Last Updated on February 20, 2019

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

How to Master Effective Communication Skills at Work and Home

Possessing effective communication skills is a powerful tool to have. Effective communication skills are essential to success in many aspects and areas of your life. There are a lot of jobs that require you to be a good communicator.

Strong communication skills help you enjoy better relationships with friends and family. Being an effective communicator will give you advantages in more ways than you can imagine.

Conversely, being poor at communicating will negatively impact your life.

Let’s take a look at how to master effective communication skills at work and home.

What is Effective Communication?

Probably a good place to start is to paint a picture of what clear communication is.

Effective communication is defined as verbal speech or other communication methods to get your point across. Sounds pretty simple, right? It does but there’s more to it than that.

It’s really about how all of us interact and communicate in every aspect of our lives. It’s the ability to say something at the right time; to be able to get multiple people on the same page in a group decision. It’s how that one friend of yours who plans most of the activities is able to get everyone to the same place at the same time.

Non-verbal communication is key to being effective as well. It’s the ability to have your body language say the right thing so the person you’re speaking to knows your listening.

Effective communicators don’t react to situations with high emotion. It means not having to say something all the time in every situation. You are even being an effective communicator when you show up to pick your daughter up from the mall when you say you will. You are communicating to her that she can rely on you.

Are You a Poor Communicator?

Before we get too deep into how to be a master communicator, let’s take a look at your communication skills.

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If you find yourself agreeing with a lot of these, you might want to sharpen your communication skills.

  • You’re constantly interrupting – Hey, I know, we all want to be listened to. We all want to get our point across. Most importantly, we want to be understood. If you find yourself interrupting all the time you aren’t listening enough.
  • Doing too much – Many of us are master multi-taskers. It’s not good if you are communicating with someone. When you try to do too much while speaking with someone, you aren’t paying attention to what they are saying. Lack of focus is bad.
  • Rambling – I know of several people I work with who do this constantly. I honestly dread having to speak to them. The worst part is even though a lot of words are coming out of their mouths, they really aren’t saying anything. I’m more confused after they answer my question.
  • Not being direct – Nothing wrong with emails or reports. However, if you can convey the same information quickly and directly to someone, it is much more effective. Why write a 2 paragraph email when you can pick up the phone and say the same information in 2 sentences?
  • Always talking about yourself – Everybody likes to relate things to their own experiences. It draws us together and helps us create a feeling of sharing and community. If you are always coloring someone else’s conversation with a similar situation in your life, people will think you are making everything about you. Don’t be that person!
  • Using a lot of qualifiers – Qualifiers are fine for the most part. When you use them as a crutch most of the time when you speak, it’s not helping your communication. Sometimes, we do this to makes things seem “softer”. Saying things like “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way but…” or “I know what you’re thinking but…” over and over doesn’t help you communicate.
  • Your ears don’t work – If you don’t listen well, you can’t answer someone correctly. In order to be an effective communicator, you have to understand what someone else is saying to you. If you don’t listen with purpose you will only have part of the picture.
  • Bad body language – The importance of body language is well documented. If you don’t look at someone when they are speaking, it appears that you don’t really care what’s being said. This makes people feel like you don’t care what they are saying and it’s not important to you. Other bad body language examples include always crossing your arms and not looking someone in the eyes.

What Effective Communication Can Do For You

Let’s take a look at how being able to effectively communicate can help you at work and in your personal relationships.

Work

  • Better client relationships – You certainly want a great communicator to be handling your client relationships. Strong communicators represent both the client and your company is the best manner.
  • Higher employee engagement – Pretty critical if you are a leader or a manager of people. An engaging and interactive communicator in a leadership position is wonderful for employees.
  • Getting better buy in from others – This is great whether you are a manager or individual contributor. Strong communicators tend to get people moving and working towards a common goal.
  • Helps mitigate conflict – Good communicators are able to help resolve conflicts quicker and easier. This helps smooth things over and keeps projects and initiatives moving forward.
  • Builds trust – You want to be able to trust who you work for and with. Effective communicators are good at establishing and building trust between people and groups.
  • Solves problems – Problems are solved by people with the ability to communicate clearly between groups and people. Those without good communication skills many times add to the confusion of a problem because they are unable to articulate their thoughts and ideas.

Personal relationships

  • Creates closeness – A good communicator is able to help foster a feeling of closeness with his or her partner.
  • Makes conflict okay – It’s actually better to fight with your partner from time to time instead of never fighting. We all have differences of opinion and points of view. When we don’t express these and bury it inside by not communicating, it just comes out later in a more negative form.
  • Provides support – It’s nice to know that someone cares about you and supports you. A strong communicator will ask how you’re doing and be a good sounding board for what you’re going through.
  • Expressing feelings – People who are not effective communicators tend to be not very good at expressing how they feel. This makes it tough to share your feelings with you partner.
  • Get the loving you want – In order to get the physical, mental, and emotional love you want and need, you have to be able to communicate clearly and appropriately with your spouse or partner. This is done through effective communication.
  • Eliminate mistrust, doubt, faithlessness, and insecurities – Many times these seeds are sown due to a lack of communication. If your partner rarely tells you where he or she is going, you will tend to start coming up with your own ideas. Often these aren’t true but how would you know if you aren’t told?

Can You Improve Your Communication Skills?

The short answer is yes, of course you can improve your communication skills.

Improving or changing anything in your life takes some work and effort but it can be done. You have to keep in mind your starting point and your goal.

If you are not a very good communicator now and you want to be able to give a motivating speech to a large graduating class, you’d better get working.

On the other hand, if you get along fairly well in general but want to be able to improve your relationship with your boss or spouse by being able to master effective communication, you may just need some guidance and practice.

Either way, if you want to master effective communication skills at both work and home, it will take a little work and effort. Doing so will benefit you in many ways.

How to Master Effective Communication Skills

In general mastering effective communication skills will help you at both work and home. Let’s look at how to improve verbal, written, and body language communication skills. These will help you create better relationships everywhere you go!

1. Learn how to listen

Speaking is only half of the communication equation. Sharpen your listening skills so you are able to process what the other person is saying. You can then respond it a well-informed manner.

Check out these active listening guidelines to be a better listener.

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2. Make eye contact

Having regular eye contact with someone while you are having a conversation shows you care what they are saying. When you are looking at the floor or out the window it gives the impression that you aren’t paying attention.

Take a look at this advice on how to make engaging eye contact.

3. Ask questions

When you ask someone questions, you are able to clarify what they are saying to ensure you get the whole picture. If you don’t understand it fully, ask questions.

Do you know that it takes some skills to ask questions too? Here’s how to be good at asking questions.

4. Watch body language

Watch both yours and the other persons.

We all know if you have a conversation with your arms crossed the entire time, it gives off a bad vibe. Have open, engaging body language when speaking with someone.

On the flip side, if you see someone’s eyes glazing over while speaking to you, it’s probably a good idea to wrap it up.

Take a look at these top 20 body language indicators to learn more.

5. Speak confidently

Sometimes this is easier said than done. If you communicate in an open, direct, and clear manner, it subtly shows people that you are confident in what you are saying.

It doesn’t mean you always have to be right but delivering your thoughts with confidence helps your case.

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These tips will help you speak more confidently.

6. Keep it simple

You don’t always have to be succinct in your communication. There is a lot of value in being able to tell a great story.

That being said, there are many instances where keeping it simple is very helpful. This is especially true at work in both verbal conversations as well as written like emails.

7. Know your audience

You should have a certain style when communicating with your boss. Another style of communication is better with your spouse and probably others with your kids or friends.

Know your audience to help you communicate the most effectively.

8. Be empathetic and understanding

There is a massive amount of power in being empathetic. And I mean that in a very positive way.

Showing that you are empathetic and understanding to another person goes a long way to creating a great bond with that person. We all want to be understood. It’s that simple.

Think it’s a challenge for you? These 5 tips for empathetic listening will help you.

9. Pause before reacting

There have been a number of times when I’ve read an email that just came in and had an instant reaction to reading it. And I don’t mean a positive reaction. My less effective ways of dealing and communicating has been to send a scathing email back.

When I’ve communicated more appropriately, I’ve waited a while before I responded. This is true in verbal situations as well.

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10. Over communicate

You’d think if you tell someone something that should be the end of it, right? Done deal. Not so fast.

I’m not recommending you tell someone the same thing 10 times in a row. With as many distractions as we all have these days, it’s generally a good idea to follow up on something you’ve communicated a few times if it’s important.

Conclusion

Having effective communication skills at both work and home will help you immensely.

At work, it helps you in your career in many ways.

Communicating well with your boss leads to a solid, symbiotic working relationship. You’re able to clearly articulate what you need to do your job well. You can share your vision and strategy with your boss and others. Good communicators are needed in management roles and leading others. Fostering an environment of effective communication leads to a great work environment.

At home, having effective communication skills will help you achieve the type of relationship you want with your spouse.

You are able to speak freely and openly about your feelings. You can share your wants and needs in a manner that your spouse understands. Your spouse will feel understood and supported by you which is a wonderful feeling to have. And being able to have a disagreement and work through it due to strong communication skills is amazing.

Look at how you can master effective communication skills at work and home to help create more satisfying relationships in all phases of your life.

More Resources About Work Communication

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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