Obviously My Kids Don't Love Me Enough

I had presented this topic so many times. 

I had seen people’s faces light up, and I had experienced many, “ah-ha” moments with audiences and this topic in the past. 

I knew this lesson could be amazingly impactful and transformative.  

Or so I thought… 

We were exploring the Ladder of Perception. In sum, it’s the idea that everyone is living within their own perceptual reality and when we understand this, we discover that we have choices about how we interpret the world.. What may appear as a tragedy to one, may be perceived as “normal” or even as an exhilarating opportunity to another. Life as we know it is subject to our personal interpretation of the world, and our interpretations can help us feel and do better, or worse. 

It’s a transformational concept for most. 

But this particular audience was different. 

I knew all of the people in the room were parents so I wanted to provide an example of this concept that they could easily relate to. 

Keep in mind, this example is one I have used hundreds of times before. 

Here it is; You, as a working parent, come home after a long day to find your teenager has left the sink stacked full of dirty dishes and the house looking like the aftermath of a hurricane. 

Normally, when I share this vignette, everyone chimes in with a sympathetic “Why can’t they just clean up??”. Parents, relating to other parents with empathy and a shared understanding of the daily experience of parenting.

But this particular audience was different. 

On this particular day, in response to this simple lesson, one of my trainees offered her unique perspective…

“Well, if your kids aren’t doing the dishes, that just proves that you're a lousy parent and your kids don't love you enough." 

You can imagine my shock. 

She went on to say, “my kids love me more than that, so they always do their dishes. They do it to show their love. That would never happen in my house, so maybe you need to think about the relationship you have with your kids.” 

I stood there for an instant, not knowing WHAT to say!

As a trainer, a teacher, and a coach, you’re going to find yourself facing difficult training situations like these. Even if you’ve delivered the same message with fantastic results countless times before, there will be an audience member who perceives you differently. 

You cannot control the crowd. You can only control your response. 

And I knew- I could NOT get defensive. 

Getting defensive would mean that I may well lose the group. I would likely lose their trust as their leader and teacher, and I would certainly appear less stable than I would like. 

Instead, I laughed and told the woman that her opinion was the perfect example of the Ladder of Perception concept.

The same stimulus - a sink full of dishes - meant something entirely different to her than it did to me. We interpreted it differently, even though we could argue that it is the same “directly observable data.”

I should also add that just because she has an opinion based on her unique experiences and reality, I don’t have to accept it as truth. (If I did, I would likely feel even more defensive!) 

I then assured the group that my kids and I have a great relationship and we are a family full of love despite the chores that sometimes go undone. 

When you find yourself in similar situations during training, I encourage you to honor the members of your group. Remember that we all see the world a little differently, and when someone shares their thoughts with you - even if those thoughts are ABOUT you- it’s really just them telling you a little more about themselves. 

Now it’s your turn!

Share a story. 

Tell us about a time when training went awry. 

What happened? 

How did you handle it?

I can’t wait to read them!

P.S. So many trainers are experiencing challenging audiences. It's wonderful to collaborate, share insights, and learn from each other as we navigate these more difficult circumstances. Come on over to the community and share! CLICK HERE to join the BeAnAmazingTrainer™ Community!


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