When it comes to having a successful, healthy work relationship, communication is key. There is nothing as important as being able to communicate effectively to navigate the many issues that will arise when having someone else help you care for your child. Nutrition choices, electronic gadget usage and media exposure, your kids’ friends, allowable activities, and discipline are topics that just scratch the surface of the many issues that need to be thoughtfully and effectively communicated between caregivers and parents. Sometimes emotions can build up, especially if these topics haven’t been vetted in a while, and the issues can take a backseat to emerging feelings of mistrust, frustration, and disappointment. To prevent this unfortunate outcome, and to ensure a positive, productive conversation, stick to these five core tips.
5 Tips to Ideal Communication:
- Be specific, concise, simple, and forthcoming. Parents would much prefer 100% honesty and a sense that they’re exchanging all pertinent about information about their children, rather than feeling that they held back/ were not fully informed out of an uncomfortability with the awkwardness of sharing.
- Have an servant’s heart. This doesn’t mean that you should be subservient, but rather it means that you should focus on contributing to the relationship more than focusing on how you can, or what you should, receive. (Reference this article highlighting Communication Secrets of Great Leaders.)
- Listen and be open. Listen more than talk, and try to see the other person’s perspective, even if only as an exercise in getting closer to alignment at first. Practicing the fine art of listening will yield a surprising amount of understanding and even empathy for the other person, and often can allay negative thoughts that cloud the issues at hand. Everyone has a side and everyone has a story; allowing yourself to be open to the other person can often lead to immediate clarity and alignment, and can invite better relations for partnering in caring for children.
- “I” not “You”. Use “I” statements more than “you” statements to remove any interpretation of accusation or blame. For example, instead of saying “You always make me feel bad when you correct me in front of the children,” you can say , “I feel embarrassed when I’m corrected in front of the children.”
- Enter and leave in a good place. Wait until you’re calm and rational before attempting to engage in effective dialog, and take a break if you are getting “worked up”. Take the necessary time you need to be able to approach difficult subjects with peace and respect to prevent yourself from saying something you might regret. This also allows you time to plan out your conversation which improves your ability to fully convey all of your points. If it appears that the other person is becoming emotionally charged, you can ask the other person to let you know when they are in a good place to talk. “Later” is a perfectly acceptable time to try again.
- What’s the purpose? Know the purpose of the conversation. What do you want the outcome to be and how can you take steps to attain it? Write down your goals for the conversation and perhaps even a flow chart for how to get from one point to another, especially if you tend to get derailed or distracted by your own or others’ emotions, body language, or defense arguments. Being calm and focused will help you to exude confidence and a sense of intentionality to the other person, and will serve as a stabilizing guide to get through even the toughest of topics.
We hope these tips are beneficial in creating and maintaining a healthy nanny-employer relationship. There is nothing more important for your children’s well-being than the stability of positive caregiving figures in their lives.