Sunday was Mother’s Day in the U.S. and it got me thinking about how much we learn from our moms and how little we realize it until years later.
In fact, manly stuff aside, I’d say most children — boys and girls alike — learn the best survival skills from moms. Sure, lots of dads teach their kids how to hunt and fish, how to find their way out of the woods, how to change a flat tire and the myriad uses of duct tape. When it comes to surviving in the real world, however, moms pass on the best life skills.
Take communication, for example. Conventional wisdom is that women are naturally better communicators than men. My experience bears this out (though there are plenty of exceptions to the rule). Beyond everyday communication skills, however, I’ve come to realize that my mom unwittingly prepared me for a life in corporate communications. Here are some lessons I learned from her that have carried over into the workplace:
- Communication should be regular and frequent. Now that I have my own teenager, I’m reminded of how often a closed door, a new relationship or a bad day gets in the way of open communication. Somebody must make the first move to break the silence — and the senior person usually needs to show some leadership in this area.
- There are no real secrets. Moms usually know what’s really going on. If they don’t, they have plenty of informants who will tell them. This may be the first time a comparison has been made between Irving the brown-nosing HR specialist and a 12-year-old sister.
- There’s no use trying to BS your way out of trouble. Just come clean. Be transparent, even if it means getting grounded and having your Internet taken away for a week.
- It’s OK to ask questions, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always get an answer. Like when you’re 10 and you really need to know what those noises are that come from your parents’ room late at night.
- Even if you get an answer, it might not be what you want to hear. See above.
- It’s important to remind the little people that they are the family’s greatest assets. Especially at tax time.
- If you mouth off, eventually it might be reflected in your allowance. So be careful what you say and to whom you say it.
- The people in charge need to sound like they have all the answers, even if they don’t. Exuding confidence is half the battle when it comes to leadership. Remember when you thought your parents knew everything? Of course, the longer you stuck around, the more you realized they were faking it half the time.
I’m sure you have other examples, so let’s hear them. Meanwhile, remember to thank your mom next time your boss recognizes you for that great communication plan.