Negotiating for a Tonka truck can also help you with that raise

I’m dizzy. I’ve arrived an hour early for an event at my 2-year-old son’s daycare and while trying to make sense of the flurry of activity unfolding around me something becomes blatantly clear. Clearly I’ve entered a world of sophisticated negotiating I’m ill-equipped to navigate.

The vernacular these tots speak in lot of ways mirrors the language you only wish you could employ in daily professional life.   Phrases like “My turn,” “That’s mine,” and Two Minutes” are commonplace. This is partially because kids this age don’t fear confrontation like we adults do or possibly that the desire to obtain what they want renders confrontation a non-factor.

To see these phrases come to life, sprouting up around the classroom is an exercise in mind-numbing repetition. Toddler B attempts to take away the toy Toddler A is playing with. Toddler A then needs to assert him/herself and communicate he/she wants more time with said object. The challenge being that 1) 2-year-olds have no concept of time and 2) 90% of the time these kids are using these expressions there is a physical tug-o-war occurring simultaneously which makes the accompanying rhetoric all but obsolete. This entire interaction can span anywhere from 15 seconds to a whole minute depending on how soon the toddler is onto the next best toy to negotiate for.

But that’s besides the point.

What’s both refreshing and daunting about this crew is that even at the ripe old age of 2 they get goal-directed discourse. It’s something adults spend their entire lives (not to mention countless dollars) trying to recover – the art of both knowing and expressing how to get what they want and in a socially acceptable way.

Imagine how effective it would be if every time someone tries to interrupt you while you are talking during a meeting/conference call, you could say, “My turn…damnit!”  or when someone dares to take credit for your work, “That’s mine…byatch” or when your boss has the nerve to dictate how long it should take you to get a task completed – “I said two minutes!”

Okay so perhaps the expletives are gratuitous but the fact remains that as adults who are supposed to mold our young ones and guide their behavior we have a lot to learn in the way of being clear communicators. The fear of being called out for offending someone prevents us from communicating the hard truths or many times just conversing with any sort of authenticity which only serves to undermine our relationships.

We all could really benefit from spending a day with your youngsters and watching them hone these useful skills. They are our benefactors and one day will rule the world. The more time I spend with them the more I’m convinced this is a good thing.