Delegating Responsibility To Find More Time To Write, Part 2
Throughout the month of February, Mondays will be devoted to a specific concept relating to delegating responsibilities of your household so you can get more writing done. You can read Part 1 here.
This week? We’re talking about communication!
Despite the fact that most writers pride themselves on their communication skills, they may have trouble expressing their desires to their family, especially when it comes to maintaining their home.
I’ve monitored five children on chore day while they attended to the tasks I had given them, and at times I think guiding a horse would have been easier. I’ve tried very hard to communicate to them my clearly defined expectations, then guide them. What is the use of delegating? I sometimes wonder.
But what I’ve seen is that it is worth the trouble to be clear.
Good communication keeps the hearer in mind. If you keep the hearer in mind, you’ll consider what they can adequately understand. If you are communicating well, you’ll be respectful and patient. You’ll keep in mind their age, abilities, and relationship to you. Hopefully what you ask your teenager to do will sound different than what you ask your spouse to do, yet both of these requests are clear and consistent with who they are.
Good communication requires attention. You must not assume that your listeners can read your mind or see things from your perspective. When my children were smaller, I made sure they would come to me and look me in the eyes before I asked them to do anything. If I felt they still weren’t listening or caught them looking at the computer screen behind me, I’d say,”give me your eyes, please.” And then I’d give them a simple command and ask them if they understood what I just asked. I found this to be far more effective than yelling across the house and hoping they heard me. This, however, is a good tactic for children. Adults may resent it.
Good communication is clear. This is where having a good definition is important. If your family has all agreed on what cleaning the kitchen means, then you shouldn’t have to add “load the dishwasher.” When I am giving instructions, I have to remind myself that it is my job to be clear, not their job to understand. It’s far better to repeat yourself or explain something different than to assume you are understood and regret it later.
Good communication is simple. As your children mature and your household needs change, you’ll learn if you can give a series of requests or not. To keep things simple and clear for my family, I often make lists of things that must be done. I allow them to check things off as they do them, or I check them off once I’ve approved their work. My children like knowing they’ve done what I’ve asked. They should not have to fear to do their tasks incorrectly because my instructions were too vague or not detailed enough.
Good communication allows for questions. When giving instructions, especially to children, leave room open for their reasonable questions. Reasonable questions are those that they may ask to clarify instructions or to problem-solve.”We’re out of trash bags; what do I do?” would be reasonable at my house.”Why do I have to this every stupid week?” would not be.
Good communication explains parameters. If you have specifics that need attention, say, “launder the socks and underwear in hot water,” make sure you explain this to your crew. If you need the trash at the curb before 6 AM, explain that. Don’t expect them to remember every detail. They’ll remember on their own someday and you’ll be glad to stop reminding them.
Good communication explains the consequences. You and your spouse must determine whatever fallout comes at your house when assigned tasks are not done. While child discipline is a subject for an entirely different website, you should at least consider what you’ll do when they fail. And they are going to fail. Make sure your consequences are reasonable, consistent, and uncomfortable enough that they don’t make the same mistake again.
As we grow in communicating with our children, no matter what their ages, we begin to see that we’re doing more than making our homes more orderly. We’re developing in them character and skills that will last far longer than whatever project we’re cooking up in those ten-minute increments.
Next week? Delegation!
Note: this post is an excerpt fromWhen The Timer Dings: Organizing Your Life To Make the Most of 10 Minute Increments