Let Your Inner Child Play

Make Sure, Though, That It “Plays Nice”

Recently, to mark Take Your Kids To Work Day Huffington Post held a webcast titled An Office Full Of Kids where executives, bloggers, and experts, including yours truly, discussed the significance of this day for both children and parents. My key point there was that adults can also gain something from having children visit their offices, by being reminded of what’s good about childhood and what’s not so great.

Sure, kids’ intelligence is not yet fully developed; that’s why they need our guidance, after all. Their behavior can be erratic; their relationship with the world and other people is not balanced and stable yet. It’s good to be reminded of this aspect of the tender age: exhibited by an adult in the workplace, the shortcomings of childhood are exactly what makes one a Terrible Office Tyrant (TOT).

Still, that inner child should not remain permanently grounded – it can offer a helpful hand to your adult self. The child’s eyes see everything afresh, as if in its pure state, closest to the ideal of how things are supposed to be, and that can remind us what our job is fundamentally about. Childhood’s unfettered enthusiasm, free-flowing creativity, purity of vision – we would do well to retain all that in adulthood and use it in today’s workplace.

Child’s innocence and simplicity, strengthened by mature intelligence and emotional wisdom, is the basis of straightforward and honest approach to workplace tensions and conflicts. This I have always advocated and it’s been mentioned recently in one of those excellent “experts roundtable” articles Jacquelyn Smith writes for Forbes website. It discusses a boss who routinely “steals your thunder” by taking credit for your achievements. One of my recommendations is to “show them the light” by modeling proper behavior and making a point of always giving proper credit to everyone.

This brings me to another important workplace issue I discussed recently in my PsychologyToday.com blog: how to be assertive while making sure you’re not perceived as aggressive. Using the above example, while modeling proper behavior you should make sure you’re staying your ground and getting your opinion accross clearly. Balancing the power with which you project yourself is an important skill and often requires one to make adjustments “on the fly”. Depending on a given situation and the people involved, the same assertive action can be sometimes perceived as aggressive. It is especially important in dealing with a TOT boss – you can’t be a “doormat” yet it’s impossible to manage up with a sledgehammer. On how to walk this thin line, read the complete article at PsychologyToday.com