Today’s Teachable Moment and The Rudest Guy at Work

Today I learned:

1. Teachable moments: While lying on the couch with my two year old this evening she looked squarely up my nose and excitedly exclaimed, “Dad, what’s up your booger hole?”

As an early candidate for father of the year I wasn’t about to let the teachable moment slip past me, and I politely informed her that it is nostril and not, as she and her 4 year old sister so fondly refer to it, a booger hole. We then engaged in quite a lengthy conversation about the purpose of nostrils during which it occurred to me that the lesson had in fact taken. This made me interested in how we identify and properly execute the “teachable moment.”

There are no shortage of people discussing this issue online, and what struck me is that the recommendations are basically the same whether you are taking the perspective of a parent or a manager.

The best K.I.S.S. summary I can come up with is this:

  • The right moment must be laced with engagement and emotion. Teaching about seat belts after witnessing an accident is an easy example. With kids, once they engage and start asking about something they are sponges. At work it may be tougher to spot the moment, but engagement looks the same in a 4 year old as a 40 year old. It just sounds different.
  • Be prepared. If you prep your message and stay ready to engage in conversation rather than command you’ll find your opportunity.
  •  Be patient. Outside school we have the opportunity to weave messages into the day. You don’t need to convey everything in one go. Learning occurs over time – take it.

2. The Rudest Guy at Work: I was reading an article on Manners in this week’s MacLean’s, not because I need it of course but rather to learn from the behaviour of others.

It got me thinking: who is the rudest person at work?

I work in a rather large office so there are quite a few candidates. People that leave their dishes in the sink for someone else to clean were the first to come to mind. The people that anonymously post sarcastic signs to condemn those people are close behind.

The winner?

At my office it is hands down the guy that shaves in the bathroom then leaves hair all over the sink.

Over the last few weeks I am becoming increasingly frustrated with that guy. Unfortunately I can’t bring myself to post a sign, so the plan I have developed to deal it is this:

  1. Take a deep breath and suck it up.  Life’s too short.
  2. Divert my attention – e.g. Use a different washroom
  3. Look for the lesson – e.g.  Examine my own behavior to ensure everything I do at work is not having the same negative effect on other people.
  4. Politely address the issue – e.g. collect the shavings and sprinkle them on his keyboard after he leaves at night.
Well, 3 out of 4 isn’t bad.

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