Hey Family CEO’s. I’m back on track on this week’s podcast, with content to help you achieve all the things you need to to meet your child’s needs and help provide them with their best possible life.
Before I head straight into the show, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about my online learning course, Get Your Voice Heard, in case you haven’t heard about it yet. In the course, you will learn:
You can now enrol onto the Get Your Voice Heard online learning course for just £15. For that you get lifetime access, worksheets and tool sheets to print and use time and again. Time to use the discussion forum with other parents and caregivers taking the course and once completed, admission into my inner circle, The Velvets, for ongoing future support where we do a monthly facebook live and have more in depth conversations and support. Check it out by going to my website www.aimeemannmentoring.com/onlinecourses
On with the main part of the show.
As you know, one of the things, that I think, really helps to build relationships with your child’s professionals in order to help you Advocate and get what you need for your child, is to make a ‘friend’ of them. You can hear more about that and why it’s important in episode 01 of this podcast.
However, sometimes we come across people who are much more difficult to read and far more difficult to make a ‘friend’ of. They are much more difficult to gel with and sometimes quite frankly, you just don’t like them. Many times, the people who you find it hard to make a relationship with are really defensive and don’t like to be criticised. They feel criticised even when what you’re saying to them isn’t personal to them or their performance.
This can be really tricky to break through but it’s totally possible.
If you’ve ever felt defensive or irritated by someone’s comments or a conversation they are having with you, and I’m sure you have, think about why that occurs. Sometimes I get like that when I’m cooking. My husband does most of the cooking in our house, especially when it’s more complicated than heating it up in the oven. He likes cooking and naturally makes delicious tasting food. He doesn’t always need to follow a recipe and can make yummy food right off the top of his head. I’m not that adventurous. So, when I do venture further away from typical meals and heating up in the oven, I get extremely defensive if he offers suggestions about what extra herbs to add or asks if I remembered to add wine or something to thicken the sauce. Argh! I just feel criticised, even though at no point has he said (like the children often do) “oh god, that tastes awful”. That’s not actually what he’s doing and I know that really. He’s simply offering up suggestions. I know that when I’m rational and not in the middle of cooking but at the time, I don’t want anyone to tell me or make me feel that I am an inferior cook, especially when I’m cooking for my family. It’s actually just my own feelings about my cooking ability. No one else’s. It’s how I feel about myself. It probably comes from the fact that my grandma and my Mum and my Mum-in -law all make lovely food and when I was growing up, my mum made everything from scratch including pastry which I personally think is quite hard. I don’t think Ollie has any expectations over my cooking ability and actually, over time, I have reduced my expectations around what it means to be a good Mum.
I Was Living In Cloud Cukoo Land
When I was first pregnant, I had it in my head that we had moved to the country, we would have a family and I would cook and make jam and have the house looking lovely all the time and I’d play wonderful games with the children and love to help them learn. I’d go back to work when they were a little older and we would be living like little house on the prairie. Ah, I now know I was living in cuckoo land. The land of movies.
I had Freddie and there was no chance I was going to have time, let alone the energy to be a ‘Stepford Wife’. It was all about getting through the day, clearing up the 100th load of milk vomit, remembering to feed myself and trying to be dressed before Ollie got home from work. My Mum tells me the story that when I was little and she had been home all day, she would turn the heating on and spray furniture polish onto the radiators so it smelt and looked like she had been a domestic goddess by the time my Dad got home. That still makes me laugh now. We all have ideas around what makes us good, good at work, good parents, good friends etc and different expectations around that. Anyway, I’m digressing a little but I just wanted to illustrate that there are so many reason that any one of us can be defensive. So if you come up against a professional who is acting in this way, take a step back and work out how to make them feel more valued.
Before I come on to how you can do that, I want to point out that sometimes, people are just really awkward and like to be awkward. Also you might come across people who are lead by their ego. You may find that whatever you suggest, they bat away because in their mind, they are the expert and you are getting in the way of their grand plans. This can often be tricky to deal with because they might not be seeing the real challenge at hand, which is giving your child the best possible opportunity. They will be focussed more on their mission, how they feel about things and their future.
Being an egomaniac often goes hand in hand with feelings of lack of appreciation. When you look up the definition, it says:
“Egomania is an obsessive preoccupation with one’s self and applies to someone who follows their own ungoverned impulses and is possessed by delusions of personal greatness and feels a lack of appreciation. Someone suffering from this extreme egocentric focus is an egomaniac. The condition is psychologically abnormal.”
So, when you come across a professional who is defensive and feels criticised when you’re simply trying to get what your child needs or the person’s ego is getting in the way of working together to find a solution, my suggestion is that you take the same route forward.
SOLUTION: You kill them with kindness and praise.
We are all only human and it’s possible to get around these things by flattery and praise. Everyone likes to hear something nice about themselves or the work they do. We all have wobbles where we feel not good enough or like we are not making a big enough impact.
Infact, just as I was planning out this episode, I received an email from a listener saying that this week’s episode had just landed in her inbox which was great timing as she was catching up on some episodes whilst cracking on with the boring housework. She told me she is enjoying listening to them. It made me feel so great because when you put content out there to the world and it’s not face to face, you have not real idea how it is being received. So, if you do enjoy the CEO of Your Special Needs Family Podcast and find value in it, it would mean the world if you would think about subscribing and leaving a review to help other parents/carers find our community.
How To Win Them Over
Whatever the situation is that you find yourself in, before you go head on into the meeting, whilst planning out your well formed outcomes also plan out what you can say the positives are. Start with what is working. If it’s your child’s teacher at school, tell them first where you can see they have been supporting your child. What processes are working and making a positive impact. Be sure to use language which is inclusive around asking for their help to help you solve the challenge you have. Be mindful not to point the finger and get heated in the moment. Far better to talk about we, rather than you or me.
Instead of saying things like “I don’t think your methods are working for my child. You need to change them to make it right etc” you would be better off using slightly different language which is more inclusive, for eg, “We are so pleased with how much Freddie is enjoying being at school or enjoying lesson x or has made some friends or how much great care and attention his 1:1 gives him”. Whatever you can come up with, use it. Then move onto the challenge at hand. I would steer clear of words like issue and problem and stick with challenge or something of that nature. “We are finding a few things challenging though and I wanted to run them by you to get your opinion and as a valued member of Freddies team or the expert in education or neurology (whatever it might be) seek your help to find a solution.”
Being solutions focussed is much more preferable than focussing on what the problem is. I know it might sound silly. You might be thinking to yourself that this will never work because the person you are dealing with is just so awful but don’t forget, you and every professional involved in the care of your child are your child’s team and teams have to work together.
Steering clear of personal language, can reduce the chances that the defensive person you are talking to, becomes defensive and feels criticised. Your time is precious and important too and you don’t want the meeting time to be wasted on them thinking about themselves, their ego and how they feel. You want it to be about providing the best possible outcomes for your child and your family.
I totally believe that 99.9% of working relationships can be salvaged and turned around. Occasionally you might have to cut your losses on the odd one but on the whole, by taking a step back and planning your approach before you go in, you can do it if it’s important and you want to make it work. You can do it if it’s for the benefit or your child or you or your family as a whole.
If you have any stories where you have experienced this and been able to turn it around, I’d love to hear from you and as always you can drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Also get in touch if you have any topics you’d like me to cover here on the show or anything you would like to share.
Just before I sign off, I wanted to remind you about my online learning course that is available right now, just incase you didn’t catch the chat at the top of the show. You can enrol onto the Get Your Voice Heard online learning course for just £15. For that you get lifetime access and once completed, admission into my inner circle, The Velvets, for ongoing future support where we do a monthly facebook live and have more in depth conversations and support. Check it out by going to my website www.aimeemannmentoring.com/onlinecourses
Catch you next week. Ax