Most people can collaborate at a higher level just by adjusting their tone with the people closest to them.

For example, one of my children just started middle school and the teacher’s expectations regarding homework are much higher than last year.

The default parent response when the child doesn’t adjust their behavior successfully is to use a stern tone and raise the volume of your voice a bit (up, not down – just to be clear).

How many times have we repeated this behavior in various scenarios over the years? Alot…

How effective is it? Not very. Why do we continue to do it? I don’t know…

What if we practiced smiling, keeping a supportive tone, explain how the higher expectation helps the child get what he/she wants? For example, my son has all kinds of Notre Dame gear and thinks he wants to go to college there. I share with him that he needs to build good homework habits now, beginning this semester, to give him a shot at going to Notre Dame if that is what he wants down the road. It is a journey.

You can also add stories, quotes and statistics to give proportion to the topic of discussion and laughing a little isn’t a bad idea either. Humor helps almost everything.

Common sense tells us that this approach strengthens relationships in the long-run and snowballs into greater influence with those people.

The old adage is honey attracts others’ attention more so than vinegar.

What’s there to lose really?

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