So Easy, A Four-Year Old Could Do It!

This is a guest post by Mark Sieverkropp. Mark and others have stepped in at a time of need for me to keep you guys going. For more information about that, read What’s Going On?

I’ve always been a fan of the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.  That book holds sooo many practical suggestions and ideas for honing your skills with people.  But today, I want to introduce you to someone who could certainly teach Mr. Carnegie a thing or two about how to interact with people in true rock-star fashion!

My four-year-old daughter, Brooklynn could run circles around Dale Carnegie when it comes to making friends and influencing people.  Allow me to share with you a few of the things Brooklynn has taught me about dealing with others.

Compliment, Compliment, Compliment

I have an awesome mule deer hanging in our living room.  I shot it four years ago. I was sitting on the couch the other day when my daughter says to me, “Dad, that’s a really nice deer you shot.” About 30 minutes later, again, out of the blue, she says to me, “Dad, you’re a great dad.”

Not only do those comments melt your heart as a parent, I would’ve driven all the way across town to get her a Happy Meal if she’d asked me right then!

Lesson: People like to be complimented, especially your team members. A quick “great job” will win HUGE points for you. (They may even go get you a Happy Meal if you ask!).  Remember, though, it has to be sincere or it’s just words.

Be Interested

My daughter is the queen of being interested in you.  Often, I will call her and my wife from work to say hello.  When I talk to my daughter her first question is always, “What are you doing?”  When I tell her I’m driving, she’ll follow up with even more questions.

She is always interested in what I’M doing, where I’M going.  And more than that, she remembers what we talked about the last time.

Lesson: Listen.  Be interested.  Ask questions.  I don’t think my daughter has read Dale Carnegie’s book, but she certainly understands the principle that people are most interested in talking about themselves and their interests.

Smile

Take a look at the picture of my daughter at the beginning of this post.  Need I say more?  Smiling is contagious. And when you see someone smiling, you can’t help but feel better.

Lesson: Smile.  Be the one around the office to brighten someone else’s day.  I’ll bet you’ll find that people gravitate towards you when you are handing out cheer like it’s candy!

These are just a few of the lessons I have learned from a human being who has been on this earth less time than the iPhone. I am constantly amazed at the things I learn from her every single day and the application they have in my day-to-day life.  If you will apply these principles, I promise you that you will strengthen relationships with those you interact with every day.  And they’re so easy, even a four-year old can do it!

Question: What have you learned from children that would make you a better person?

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109 thoughts on “So Easy, A Four-Year Old Could Do It!”

  1. Skropp is that you?

    Our daughter is 17 months. I’ve learned to cheer for the little things, be sad when others are hurting, and to say hello and goodbye to my poop. OK that was one is kind of gross, but sure enough, she does it. I don’t. But it’s funny.

    I’m a vastly different person since having her. I always thought my emotions and reactions to situations were beyond my control. Then I realized that I choose to change the second I walk in the door at home, for her sake. If I can do it then, I can do it at work, in the car, and everywhere and with everyone.

    1. LOL That’s hilarious Matt. (Saying goodbye to poo.) Isn’t it amazing how our kids can bring out the worst in in us (like going postal when they’ve been fighting all freakin day) and then they turn around and fire us up with the best qualities we have inside of us? I love my kids, and I love the person they are helping me to be.

      1. One of the biggest lessons my daughter has taught me is forgiveness. I can yell and scream at her for something and 5 min later she’ll run up and hug me and tell me she loves me. Do WE forgive like that with our family and team members?

          1. It simultaneously melts your heart and makes you feel like the poo Matt’s daughter said goodbye to! It’s funny how we start life so Christlike, lose it within like 10 years and spend the next 70-80 trying to get back there again!!

    2. Oooh. Controlling your emotions! So true!! I notice that. I don’t take my day out on my daughter, but I do on my wife. What’s up with that!? Shows what a punk I am!
      Our kids really help us realize little things matter, and not only to four year olds, to everyone, including our bosses, team members etc!
      And yes, this is my post 😉 I’m incognito as Chris…makes me feel taller

      1. Hmm, I suggest you get a stuffed animal to take with you in your truck. Take your worst out on it and spare your wife. Hehehe. I have to watch myself with that too man…When I’ve had a rough one, I tend to clam up and shut down. My wife and kids don’t need a shell walking around the house, grunting this and that….

        I’m learning…very SLOWLY…how to express what’s going on after a hard one. My wife really appreciates it and I really appreciate it too when I get it off my noggin.

        Weird how that works.

        1. I go from one extreme to the other, from not saying anything to complaining about EVERYTHING. neither extreme is good for your marriage and family. I’d recommend avoiding them 😉

      1. Thanks! She should be fully potty trained by 18 1/2 months. Been about 4 weeks now. She only goes in her pull-up at night and maybe once a day now.

        She is something special…not sure where she gets it from though…clearly her mom!

  2. And I’m wondering, just like Matt, Skropp my man -this you? I love this article, it’s so true. Kids are naturals at being kind and friendly.

    My two little guys have are great friend makers. My oldest is quiet, but he seems to notice the people who other people are slower to make friends with -and he’s there.

    My littlest dude is the opposite. He makes friends with strangers – and he WILL go for the happy meal option if he can. (LOL by the way on that line.)

    What I can learn from my kids: being totally and completely honest about who you are. No hiding. No masks. Just being you.

    1. I love that Aaron! Somewhere along the way we forgot to be who we are, huh? That’s definitely the best policy, unless, of course, you’re a scumbag, then being who you are may not be the best idea! Haha

      1. Yes, I think we all tend to forget who we are. We work hard to be taken seriously as ‘business professionals’ if we’re in the business world – and in some spaces, that’s vital. But what about being ‘childlike’ – God places tremendous value on that. We tend to try our best to run away from it…hmm.

        And you’re right…was thinking the exact same thing about that you shouldn’t be the real you if the real you is a scumbag. That wouldn’t be cool. 😉 Great post buddy! As Lily pointed out above – you knocked this outta the park!

  3. Yeah, kids can teach us a lot, Mark. (Yeah, it’s Skropp — he tweeted it out this morning). And let me tell you, the little moments of interest just get cooler the older they get because the more stuff they’ve got going on, the more self-possessed they get, the more those random moments of, “How was your day, Dad?” mean.

    And taking these things to your team can only help! Except for Matt’s poo thing below. But don’t read that. It’s kind of icky.

    What else have I learned from my little ones? That public recognition can sometimes have an inhibiting effect when the one being recognized is shy, or when the recognition isn’t genuine (I have video of my daughter getting a “good citizen” award where she rushes back to me, almost embarrassed, I think because she knew they just handed those things out like candy and tried to make sure every kid got one).

    1. Man Bret great points. I always ask my wife “B will always think I’m the greatest person in the world, right?” haha. I can imagine those seemingly everyday occurs ces will not always be so regular 🙂

      I love the point about taking into account personalities when dealing with people! Definitely applicable at home, work, church etc! Thanks Bret!

      1. You want a good “everyone’s a winner” story?

        My son played teeball in the spring. His coach gave out a game ball every game, and tried hard to ensure that each player got one, but he did so by looking hard for a game in which each player did something worth awarding a game ball. It might have been simply a good catch or a solid hit, but it was something he could point out to the team and the kids’ parents when he awarded the game ball, which he always did immediately after the game, in front of the whole team, before the snacks. The ball signed by the coach and bearing the kid’s name, the date of the game and the opponent.

        At the end of the season, every kid in teeball got a participation trophy. A bronzed plastic glove on a cheesy base. Every single kid realized at precisely the same time that their participation “trophy” would make a great holder for the prized game balls. So the trophies became stands and the game balls became the real trophies.

        1. Good story Bret. If you’re gonb give everyone a game ball, have a REASON that isn’t “well, your parents paid some money and you showed up, sooo…”

        2. I LOVE the story! I think we’ve gone overboard with praising everyone for every little thing. Some kids are growing up in a world that teaches them entitlement and not accountability and hard work.

        3. That’s a wonderful story. What insight by the coach to look for what they did right – when I’m sure the tendency is to try to correct what they are all doing wrong. Makes me smile. Thanks for sharing that.

          1. The funny thing is that it wasn’t awkward for our team at all — we loved it. The other teams’ kids, though, were holding their trophies and suddenly they weren’t half so cool as they had been a minute before.

  4. My son daily reminds me what it means to have a servants heart. He constantly desires to help and serve others and asks nothing in return.

    I believe God gave me my son to remind me of how I should act and live and to serve others as Christ served the Church.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful daughter and her story.

    1. How old is your son? Just wondering if it’s his words or actions that remind you? (mostly that is a rhetorical question)

      It’s my daughter’s groans when she hears another child crying that remind me to care. It’s when she offers to share one of her last two Cheerios with me that to share. It’s her excitement over seeing me that reminds me to be joyful.

  5. Great post Mark. I’m always blown away by how perceptive kids can be.I don’t have any of my own, but when I work with kids volunteering at my nonprofit, they ask such incredible questions just when you think they aren’t paying attention. And we’ve had several of them do things like collect food for the food pantry instead of birthday gifts so they can help other kids in need.These are 8 and 9 year olds who see the needs around them.

    And Aaron, I love your point about being honest and just you. They definitely remind us of that.

    1. So true Carol! Sometimes I realize B notices more than I think she does, THAT keeps me trying to be a better person because I KNOW she’s watching. The same is true with those we lead, they are ALWAYS watching what we do!

  6. Chris, Well first, your daughter is BEYOND cute! Those sparkley little eyes and big grin just makes one smile!! Becoming a mom has been my favorite role in life. Yep, my kids have taught me some great lessons including: * I don’t know it all * Life can be messy at times, but man what fun. * To love unconditionally is one of the greatest privleges to have experienced, both in giving and recieving. * Seeing life through a child’s eyes can take my life into a much more deeper, richer, and rewarding type of life. I could go on and on about this one, but will simply sum it up by saying life with kids goes from 2D to 3D – full HD, color and sounds that is beyond awesome my friend. Live Beyond Awesome. Jen Twitter: @TheIronJen

    1. Thanks Jen! That’s my daughter…this is actually a guest post, haha. Brooklynn is the spitting image of her mother, that’s why she’s so beautiful!
      I love your analogy of 2D to 3D…it’s so true! Thanks for the perspective!

  7. I loved reading everyone’s comments…..makes me reminisce back when my kids were little guys. I can honestly say that my son (18) has taught me how to love unconditionally. He’s going through a rough time in his life and he says things to me that I would never allow anyone to ever say to me….and I still love me. How do I apply this in business? I realize that everyone isn’t always on their mark every single day all the time. I understand that in frustration people might do or say something that they don’t mean….it’s not immaturity, its frustration. My 18 year old is feeling his independence and I let him know I will always be here, no matter how wonderful he is or how ugly he can be. It’s made me a better person and hopefully that will spill over into my work life as well.

    1. You’re a great example Kim! That understanding is going to make a HUGE impact in his life and how he raises his family! It’s so hard For me to be understanding when my daughter is tired and cranky. Thanks for the reminder

      1. Doesn’t it suck that when your kids are tired and cranky, you usually are too? When we ask God for patience, we somehow expect Him to ‘inject’ it somehow into our lives. Nope. We get to walk through circumstances that give us the chance to PRACTICE patience. That’s when we get more of it.

        My Dad told me something true when my first son came along: kids are God’s way of squeezing impatience and selfishness out of us…the faster you learn how to be patient and selfless with your kids, the faster the squeezing stops.

        I’m not done yet.

        1. That’s a great point Aaron, be careful what you ask for, right!!? Haha.
          I love your dad’s analogy. It’s so true, and I’m certainly not done yet either. But I think I’m working in the iChat direction most of the time!

  8. Great post, Mark, and right on the mark. I have found that I can take a lot of things from my kids especially when it comes to my interaction with other adults. When I’m talking to my kids, all they want is my attention and to be heard. The same goes for my team members. They want to know that they are important and that I am listening to what they have to say. I carry that with me into every conversation I have because a small investment of time with someone is worth much more in the end. I know that I get the best out of most people because I take the time to listen, empathize, and collaborate with them.

  9. Go Skroppy!!! I absolutely LOVE this post. You knocked it out of the park, friend! The reason I say that is because such simple truths and such simple gestures have a powerful impact in people’s lives and you explained it so beautifully. Love the pic of your little princess too!!!

    I agree, we need to learn more from our kids.
    I have a four-year-old daughter as well and I experience the same kind of things. She is genuinely interested to hear how my day went at work every night. She tells me all the time “You’re my favorite Mommy” or “You’re such a good Mom”. This is very touching, especially when I feel like I’m no one’s favorite person when I’m all frazzled or when I think I’m not that great a mom. You know, the things all parents experience.
    What moves me the most is the unconditional love kids express with no restriction, the kind of love I want to learn to share with others. They really don’t care if they play friends live in this neighborhood or the other, or if they’re wearing brand-name clothing or thrift store bargains. They just like people for who they are and want to be friends with everyone.
    If we would just be like a four year old and be kind, encouraging, enthusiastic, forgiving and friendly, we would make our organization or business (and the world) a much better place to be.
    Congratulations on a GREAT guest post!!!

    1. Thanks Lily. Great insight. It’s sad that as adults we have to RElearn unconditional love! Maybe that’s one of the reasons we have kids? To remind us how WE are suppose to be and act.

  10. My kids have taught me that true appreciation for a person doesn’t always reflect their talent. I sang my kids to sleep each night, and I can’t carry a tune in a bucketloader. As teens they recently asked me to sing it to them one night again as a trip down memory lane. At this point I realized they would know I made up the song about Dukers(their word for any construction truck at the time) Colby the Compacter, and Georgie the bulldozer, going back and forth, forth and back… very insipid and monotonous, perfect for lulling two toddlers to bed..and some nights they picked their vehicle, each night tailoring it to their day and what we saw. I borrow the tune from Down in the station early in the morning, then mangled it from there.. I also realized they would finally know for certain I can’t sing. But they taught me what comes from the heart in a genuine moment is valuable more than the precision or craft with which it is delivered. I valued their artwork of hand prints and flying worms – their effort to convey to me their dreams and spirit, and they valued my time and efforts to create a safe home where they could sleep and dream more.
    I think we could all just learn to appreciate the effort sometimes and not just the result.

    1. How cool that teenagers would ask you to do that. As parents we come up with the craziest things to express that love, in the middle of diaper changes, sleepless nights, runny noses and just being run down from it all. Thanks for reminding me that is light at the end of the preschool tunnel and help me look forward to when my kids ask me to remind them of the bedtime routine.

      1. Lily I am positive you are doing a great job- your enthusiasm and your insights are the making for a great momma and family unit! Best way to express it is time together- I have a lazyboy chair (must send them a thanks) that for the past nineteen years has been the site of feedings, croup, post -surgeries and to this day is where they gather to get a snuggle before off they go to bed- we don’t fit nearly as well, but they know they always have a sift spot to land. Enjoy your family time does fly, and the crazy of diapers and messy feedings becomes driving and life changing decisions. The journey is the best part!!!

    1. Both of my boys have autism, ages 4 & 6. Thank your daughter for me! It means more than you could know, not just to those kids who have anxiety attacks on the way to school worrying about being in a group, but also to the moms and dads that sit at work and worry if their kids are making friends each day, or if they are withdrawn, sitting in the corner by themselves. Thank you.

  11. Chris, our daughter has taught us how to trust in God. She was not supposed to be born. (In ultrasound she had a hole in her spine and her head faced backwards.) We trusted in God, and she is a perfect baby today. That was God’s plan. It could have been different, but it was still his plan. You can here about it here if you like: http://toddliles.com/03-two-babies-they-said-wouldnt-be-born.html

    How is your daughter? She and your family have been our prayers and thoughts.

      1. Lily – We know we are blessed. It is a total Grace thing. God has done some amazing things through this family. I want the world to know it is his power, not mine.

        Have you heard an update on Chris’s little girl? We are concerned here in Austin.

  12. I have a nephew who refers to everyone as friends. Sitting in a waiting room waiting for oil change, he noticed that one of the seats was empty. His comment: we are missing a friend. Imagine if you went through life assuming everyone you meet was a future friend.

  13. Great post Skropp!!!

    “Handing out cheer like it’s candy”. I’ve got to write that down!

    Children can be such great reminders of how happy life can be if we just have faith and let go of our anxieties!

    I have a 10 month old that wakes up every morning laughing in her crib. She has been doing this for the past couple of months. She just lays there and laughs with a big old smile until we come and get her.

    Can you imagine? Laughing every morning when you wake up for a couple of months? I can promise you, that changes my day, and how I interact with my the people around me, every time I think about it.

    Just laugh already!!!! 😉

    p.s. Love How to Win Friends…too!

  14. Great post Skropp!!!

    “Handing out cheer like it’s candy”. I’ve got to write that down!

    Children can be such great reminders of how happy life can be if we just have faith and let go of our anxieties!

    I have a 10 month old that wakes up every morning laughing in her crib. She has been doing this for the past couple of months. She just lays there and laughs with a big old smile until we come and get her.

    Can you imagine? Laughing every morning when you wake up for a couple of months? I can promise you, that changes my day, and how I interact with my the people around me, every time I think about it.

    Just laugh already!!!! 😉

    p.s. Love How to Win Friends…too!

    1. Boy, that’s the biggest commercial for living a debt free life that I can find – you’ll wake up laughing every day! LOL

      Seriously, what a cool way to wake up Bob. My kids at that age woke up asking for their bottle. Hmm.

      1. Aaron: I never thought about it like that – unfortunately, even though I’m debt free, I don’t necessarily wake up laughing. I’ll have to work on that! 😉

        By the way, I didn’t say anything about my five year old. She is a little grumpier in the morning.

        1. Same here. My 4 y-o girl is ADORABLE… after 8 AM. My little guy who is 2 is the most cheerful person I know, with a big smile on his face when I yank him from under the covers at 5:50 AM to go to the babysitter…I think I’d scream if someone did that to ME.

  15. Skropp, awesome post! Love it!

    Having two boys, ages 5 and 2 1/2, you begin to see everything through their little eyes. I have found that these walking sponges absorb whatever the mood is in the air.

    If I’m in a great mood, the kids are happy. If I’m frustrated about something and I am distant, they can sense it. They know i’m not with them fully. Like when my younger one tugs on my sleeve and says, “Da-ddy. Put down the iPad.” That hits me like a glass of cold water in the face.

    One of the many lessons my kids have taught me is to put into any relationship what you want to get out of it. It takes work. There is no autopilot, unless you want to be around people who aren’t giving 100%.

    1. I agree- they totally absorb the atmosphere!! They are contagious as well in their infectious laughter. I only hope to radiate more light and love for them than negativity and despair. They do emulate the Present is definitely a gift!

    2. So true Scott. I’d say those we work with know we we aren’t giving our all as well, at least intuitively, if not consciously. Thanks for your thoughts!

    3. Ouch – that happens to me too. ‘Daddy, want to play lego with me?’ I was thinking the other day, sometimes it feels ‘annoying’ when the little people interrupt ‘adult’ stuff….but you know something, there will be a time when they won’t think about inviting you to play with them. Then what? I’ll be the one wanting to get in on their life….I think the secret for me (everyone) is to get regular at playing and joining in your kid’s games so that they will want to keep you involved with them as they grow older. I think my parents did that well…and I want the same thing with my kids. Intention and action required!

      Sigh….burnt rice!

      1. Totally! Sometimes it’s hard when you spend hours on end playing with your kids, and when you finally move on to ‘adult stuff’ they say things like “don’t you want to play with me anymore?” The manipulation starts pretty much as soon as they can form words. I’m a sucker for the kiddie guilt trips and they know it!

        1. LOL that’s so funny because I get the same trips too. I do try to make play time with my kids, and then I do try to let them know that I need to do some work stuff, or vice versa. The thing I’ve seen, if I don’t be intentional about BOTH things, they don’t get done – and that can’t be. It’s hard to balance, that’s for sure.

    4. Yup! I take relationships for granted at times. Fortunately, all my close associates are gracious enough to pardon my mistake and accept me with my weaknesses. I am trying to getting better day by day.

  16. Brooklyn sounds so straightforward, honest, and without any guile. There is no manipulation, no tit-for-tat, just love in her heart freely expressed.

    Hmmm, doesn’t sound very professional. . . wouldn’t it be refreshing to work with those attitudes??

    1. She is pretty remarkable. Remembering that is probably the biggest benefit of writing this post. I’ve lost sight of it at times through the 4 year old fits and temper tantrums. Thanks for reminding me Jana!

  17. Great post! I especially like this quote: ”
    she remembers what we talked about the last time.” It seems that too many people talk to you without listening. If you take time to talk to somebody, then truly make an effort to listen. One of the reasons I love email communications is because there is a paper trail that I can review if my memory fails me.

  18. My daughter is nice to everyone, when we are in public she waves and smiles saying “hi” to everyone that passes by. She doesn’t care what the person looks like, what they are wearing or how old they are. She see everyone as a person of equal value.

  19. Nice job on this post! You asked what we have learned from a child that makes us better. As a brand new grandfather, our 10 week old grandson communicates best when he — SMILES. If you could see what grown adults will do (yup, silly faces tops the list) to get him to smile you would understand that your last point “Smile” is one thing to learn from anyone, child or adult, that we all seek each day. Happy days. 🙂 [see, we even smile in text]

  20. identical goes for my team members. They want to comprehend that they’re important and that I am listening to what they have to say. I carry that with me into every conversation I have because a little investment of time with someone is worth much more in the end. I understand that I get the most desireble out of the average person because I take the time to listen, empathize, and collaborate with them.

  21. I really enjoyed this post Chris. Its amazing that children have Dale Carnegie’s principles down without ever having to be taught! There really is a lot we can learn from kids.

  22. You can learn from any kid that rejection just means that you must have worded the question wrong. I can’t count how many ways my 6 year old has asked to play Wii.

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