A couple of months ago, I won some tickets to see singer Kelly Clarkson in concert in Sydney. I was really excited as I had wanted to see her but I had also promised my sister I would babysit my nephew while she has a “date night” with her hubby that weekend. When I mentioned this to my mother, she generously offered to come over and babysit him that night so that I could go out.
Knowing the dynamics between my mother, the doting grandmother-of-one, and my 7 yr-old nephew – the smartest kid EVER (no, do not accuse me of being biased because you would be wrong! *wink*), I was determined that my nephew would still follow my rules while I was out. As much of a doting aunt as I am, I have never failed to discipline him when necessary whereas he always knew that he has his grandma wrapped around his little fingers.
As the concert was not starting till 9pm, I decided to prepare dinner for all three of us before I went out. I gave strict instructions after dinner that my nephew was to do the following:
- Practise his violin for half an hour
- Have a shower
- Go to bed by 8pm – he was also allowed to read to himself in bed
With these instructions clearly given, I went on my merry way.
Shortly after 9pm, I called home to check on my Mum to see how she went with putting my nephew to bed. Not surprisingly, she informed me that he had gone to bed but was still awake. He tried on his usual delaying tactics when it came to playing his violin and dragged on about the shower. Then wanted to read book after book before lights out. Then he complained that he had a headache. Now, rather than calling him out on it, my mother tried to bribe him to go to sleep by offering him ICE-CREAM! Mama mia!
So at what point do you stop rewarding bad behaviour and actually dole out punishment? In business, as in life, you know never to make a threat you are not prepared to carry out. A classic and common example is when asking your boss for a raise, be prepared to walk away if you don’t get it, or accept that you are probably never going to get it if you stay. If you tell your children they will be sent to the naughty corner if they didn’t behave, there is no point giving the warning if you are not going to act on the threat.
So here are some simple rules I follow that I believe can be applied to different aspects of life:
- Know what you want – be prepared to go for it or accept the consequences
- Have a Plan B – if you don’t get what you want at first, try it a different way or know that you can take a different path
- Lay down the ground rules for what you want and make sure everyone is clear what they are, otherwise it would be like the AFL Match Review Panel – so inconsistent with their rulings even the umpires are confused!
- Don’t make threats or give ultimatums unless you are prepared to carry them through. Better yet, don’t make threats unless you know you have the upper hand (no one is going to bargain with you if they know you cannot win).
- Bribing is just another way of rewarding bad behaviour – DON’T DO IT!
Leave me a comment if you have other “rules” you think I should consider.