Eighty-five percent of your child’s success depends on their people skills. This can be rather disconcerting when observing the “fingers-and-thumbs generation” that is emerging. Texting and non-verbal communication is rapidly replacing eye-to-eye interaction, but nothing will ever take the place of human contact. A virtual hug just won’t cut it. We need physical contact and face-to-face communication to live abundant, healthy lives.
Only 15% of success in business is attributed to our technical skills. Education is important. It is critical. However, it is not the end-all be-all for your child’s success, or your own for that matter. All of us have known an “educated idiot” a time or two in life, haven’t we? They are so smart, yet have no people skills.
There is no reason we cannot have it all. It just takes a well-rounded education that includes some etiquette training. Etiquette skills are not taught in most homes or in many school systems. We hire young adults and expect them to know how to interact with others. They don’t. You can give your child the edge they need, right in the comfort of your own home.
Here’s an example: I received a call at 7 a.m. one morning from a woman who was crying hysterically. I thought someone had died for goodness’ sake! She proceeded to tell me through her tears that she had attended a professional development training class I conducted a few days before. That class included a section entitled “The Power of a Business Toast.”
This young mother told me how two years prior she married a man with two boys, now 12 and 14 years old. She tried desperately to connect with the boys but with no success. She thought she would forever be the “wicked stepmother.” Her copious attempts to connect with the boys yielded modest fruit at best.
This tenacious woman went home after my training, inspired to try something new. She proposed a toast to the boys during an evening meal and declared how honored she was to be a part of their lives. Much to her surprise, the next meal her husband raised a glass in her honor and touted what an amazing woman she was and how much she meant to him. Through her tears she explained to me, “Last night, the 14-year-old, who I have had the most trouble with, raised his glass and said, ‘I would like to propose a toast to my Mom,’ and he was talking about me!” She could not contain herself.
Who would think that a class in professional development would change the dynamics of a family with a simple paradigm shift? It is the power of respect and honor. Manners matter. The implementation of simple acts of respect can turn a business or a family around.
Three Simple Rules for Family Etiquette:
1. Acknowledge each family member as a gift – Remember it is the little things that matter. It may be as simple as a raised glass in honor of another, a kind word of encouragement or a note stuck under a pillow. Don’t get caught up in the need for your child to have all of the latest and greatest gadgets, and neglect personal touch. Love is a four-letter word spelled T-I-M-E. Say thank you frequently and show affection. Take time to ask questions and wait for the answer. Show family members the same respect you would a dear friend. Everyone needs to be acknowledged.
2. Take care of yourself – This may seem out of place in an etiquette column. However, self-respect is a foundation for good etiquette. If you do not respect yourself, others will not respect you either. If your family sees you valuing yourself, they will be encouraged to value and respect you as well. Take care of your health, your finances and let your children know you think it is important to be your personal best so you can take care of them in the way they deserve. Take time for you, even if it’s just a few moments. Learn to say no and draw healthy boundaries. You will be a nicer, more civil person.
3. Watch your words – Think before you speak. How you treat other people matters. Your children are watching. How you speak to your spouse, the wait staff in a restaurant and the dry-cleaning clerk can be influential for your children. Refrain from using curse words or gossiping about others. This just sheds a bad light on you. Words are powerful. Use them wisely. Our mothers’ saying still holds true: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!
If we don’t teach our children, who will? Their success is dependent upon learning people skills. Keep face-to-face communication alive in your family, promote civility in your home and be sure to connect with the younger generation with more than just a text.