Bit of a different blog this week but one I felt was worth sharing given Easter is upon us, a time when we spend with our families.
I am the very proud Dad of 3 wonderful daughters. The eldest of which is a teenager. Teenage girls are notoriously hard to read.
As a recruiter, getting to the heart of what someone is trying to say is sometimes difficult (candidate or client). We often hear people without truly listening to them and putting ourselves in their shoes.
My wife recently shared with me a letter that a teenage daughter might write to her dad to explain the experience of becoming a teenager as a girl in 2015.
I have read it repeatedly trying to absorb its message. I think the message is listening without judgment and trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. A critical skill for a professional recruiter in 2015, and as a dad of a teenage girl.
The letter read as follows……
I am a teenager now. It’s very hard. My emotions feel like Melbourne weather. Life is stressful, what with school and boys and not liking how I look and the mess the world is in and hating my hair.
I need to chill out quite a lot – to watch some TV when I get home from school and be vague and dreamy and waltz about the house. If you criticize me, it’s just kind of the last straw. So I will yell back at you or storm off to my room. But it’s not my fault. My pre-frontal cortex has melted down for a re-build and won’t be right again until about age 22. So my amygdala has taken over and all it knows is fight or flight! Scare me, and you can choose which one I give you back.
You think, because I can out-argue you, that I am smart. But I have lost the most important faculty a person can have – I can’t see anyone else’s point of view. Or at least not easily. It’s enough to keep track of my own point of view! In fact, I will try on lots of different points of view to find out if one fits. Today I am an emo-punk-Goth-angel and I plan to get piercings in my cheeks. Tomorrow I might volunteer as a nurse in Angola.
You worry about boyfriends. You worry about me navigating sex. So do I! We’re not on different sides.
You worry that I won’t do my schoolwork. Well, how would you feel when they tell you your whole life depends on a couple of bad days of exams, that it could be all over at eighteen if I have a bad night or forget my pen? It’s enough to paralyze you with fear!
Please – don’t criticize me. I am already criticizing myself so much, it might just tip me over the edge. And I’d be so upset if I killed you. Talk gently. Ask about my life. Watch the timing. I will sometimes want to talk and sometimes not. When I do, you’d better have a couple of hours! Be gentle. Be funny. Be patient. One day I will be over this and we can be the best of friends.
Your (loving) daughter
This piece is from a great book called Raising Girls by the acclaimed author Steve Biddulph. It reminded me of another great principle from Steven Covey (The 7 habits of highly effective people)……”Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.
Wishing everyone a very happy and peaceful Easter.
Stuart Freeman is an Executive Recruitment Consultant in the Insurance space, a blogger, an owner of a high end wine business, and a dad of 3 daughters. He can be contacted directly on email@example.com or on twitter @StuartFreemanKR