When we get into a hurry to have something done, we often offer a reward to the person who gets the job done first.
Years ago, I read about a sales organization that had restructured its reward system. In the past the company had always given a trip to their top three salespeople. Historically there had always been a large gap in sales between the third and fourth person. A new sales manager proposed a change in the reward system. She doubled the sales goal for the year. The sales manager told the sales team that when they met this goal, everyone on the team would go to Hawaii, with a spouse or friend.
After initial grumbling and disbelief, the sales team figured out that they needed to work together so that everyone could win. It was all or none.
Much to their CEO’s amazement, the sales organization met their objective by August. The least productive salesperson performed at the level of the previous year’s top sale associate. This sales manager knew how to engage cooperation. She knew everyone was in the same boat, and she found a powerful way for the sales associates to understand it.
To engage cooperation with our children, we need to help our children understand that we are all in this together.
In How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Faber and Mazlich tell us we need to come with an attitude of respect that communicates to our children that we think they are loveable, smart and capable people who are willing to do the responsible thing when they see a problem.
The authors suggest the following five ways to engage cooperation:
1. Describe what you see, or describe the problem.
2. Give information.
3. Say it with a word.
4. Describe what you feel.
5. Write a note.
Let’s take an example.
The den needs to be picked up for company.To engage cooperation we could do the following:
There are toys on the floor that need to be put away. There are crayons on the table. There are shoes under the table. Coats on the couch.
The Browns are coming in 15 minutes. I don’t think they can walk in the den without tripping on toys.
Say it in a word:
Pick up time! Or, the den!
I’d love for the Browns to see our home without a lot of clutter.
Write a note:
Emergency! Company Coming! Clean Up! Apple Pie for Dessert!
When we can avoid making chores into a competition, that is, rewarding our children for doing something first, or the fastest, we will also avoid the power struggles that can emerge from a child’s thinking this is a contest between me and you.
When we can help everyone in our family understand that working together benefits us all, when we can engage cooperation, we’ll help create stronger individuals and a stronger family.