Encountering the teenager in its natural habitat. That’s the theme for the Zits cartoon below. Yesterday I posted about “Life of Pi” and the “animals” in your “zoo.” Great communication results from understanding and working with the nature of those we deal with.
But that doesn’t mean we tiptoe around their nature. September 9th’s “Zits” cartoon illustrates a communication dynamic that many of us can relate to – not just with teenagers, but with coworkers, managers, employees and others. When you feel the need to dance around a simple question like how was your day (or like how is your project progressing) it’s a signal that you have a serious communication challenge.
Skilled indirect communication can be a powerful and effective response to Jeremy’s walls. But not this kind of indirect communication. Mom is in reaction, not in response. Her behavior is defined by his insolence, not informed by it. She cowers in the corner. That’s no better than full frontal attack to Jeremy’s indifference. Either approach would be defined by him, and he would hold the power.
I like direct questions. I also like honest indirect questions that work. I don’t like actively pretending you’re not doing what you clearly are, as in this approach.