The Power of Talking to Big People like they’re Children

“That tuna sandwich looks magnificent,” I told my wife. She laughed. It was a basic tuna on wheat. But I was test driving a crazy idea.

I spoke to her like I speak to our 5-year-old granddaughter. (I know. That sounds strange. But go with me.)

Imagine how you’d talk to a team member if they were one of your children or grandchildren.

Ellasyn with Poppi

A good place:

My mind goes to a good place when I talk with Ellasyn. She’s our granddaughter.

  1. I’m glad to see her.
  2. I slow down.
  3. I give her undivided attention.
  4. I admire little things.
  5. I notice how she’s learning and growing.
  6. I respect her accomplishments.
  7. I encourage her to try again.

Which items in the above list AREN’T relevant to big people interactions?

Compassion goes up and criticism goes down when you employ child-like communication.

Grandmother reading. Grandchildren

Communication with a child-like approach elevates leadership effectiveness.

Big person words:

Use big person words but speak to their inner child.

  1. You must be proud.
  2. How did you learn how to do that?
  3. What happened?
  4. Let’s try again.

Grown-up responsibilities:

Talk to adults like children. But don’t treat adults like children.

Team members have adult skills and big-person responsibilities. They meet grown-up expectations.

It’s a secret:

Don’t tell team members you’re talking to them like children.

I don’t like the thought that I’m being treated like a child. But I confess that on the inside I’m still a kid. I enjoy admiration and love learning.

Grandfather with grandchild.

Imagine how you'd talk to a team member if they were one of your children or grandchildren.

Key ingredient:

Try this approach only if you respect your team. Condescension is insulting. Manipulation is deadly. Always be sincere and genuine.

I’ve tested this myself with transformative results.

I know this is weird. Would you give this approach a test drive and give me feedback?

Communicating with a child-like approach elevates leadership effectiveness.

What shifts in your thinking when you choose to talk with team members as if they were a child or grandchild?

Added resources:

How to Talk to Your Child: The Best Strategies for Effective Communication – YouTube

How To Talk To Kids So They Listen – YouTube