*Empathy* Eliminate Anonymous by listening attentively and responding creatively.
We all just want to be heard. We forget that sometimes.
My 3 children (2 in kindergarten, 1 in 1st grade) are taking part in remote learning where days are full of Zoom calls and their peers and teachers are only faces on a screen. There’s no true eye contact and participation and attention from teachers are at a premium. The “Mute” button is absolute power, and the first week of class was spent teaching the children how to “Mute” and “Unmute” themselves. I initially found this cute, not knowing that it would be a huge source of frustration in the weeks to come.
On several occasions during early class Zoom sessions, I noticed all 3 of my children becoming increasingly frustrated. When I’d ask them what they were upset about, I began to see a pattern in their answers.
Child 1: “My teacher wouldn’t call on me.”
Child 2: “I want to share.”
Child 3: “Teacher muted me.”
One by one, we’d troubleshoot the frustration, give them a break or something to drink and move on with our day. Then one Tuesday morning during a math class, I finally connected the dots. They just wanted to be heard.
How many times have we, as adults, become frustrated or disillusioned when we’ve felt that our opinions weren’t heard or valued? How many times have we witnessed an angry guest in a service environment escalate their behavior to near temper-tantrum proportions? Why do people hate waiting on hold?
We all want to be acknowledged. We want a chance to participate in the process. We want to be heard. Not being called on makes us believe that we aren’t valued and that we don’t have a voice. There are few feelings as helpless as this.
I now try to intercept every question when I see their hands go up so that I can so that I can give them feedback so that they can feel heard. When they don’t get called on, I reinforce that wanting to participate is positive, but sometimes it’s just not your turn- stay patient and still want to participate the next time around. Keep engaging in opportunities as they present themselves.
The next time you see someone frustrated, show them empathy. The next time you catch yourself being dismissive of a “dumb” idea, hear the individual out. Be a good leader and allow them to be heard. Then actually respond, never ignore. Everyone is somebody’s child, and nobody would want their child ignored.
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