12 August, 2012

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Reviewed by Radhakrishnan Chettour

Recently when I visited Crossword, Bangalore, I found the book How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. For last few months I was actually in search of a book on communicating with primary kids. Many times during my workshops I have come across lot many questions from educators on this topic. Most of the training professionals, including me, have to admit that we concentrate our learning and modules targeting middle and upwards. So when I found this book, without a second thought, I decided to pick. I have to admit that I opened it with very low expectations, as I think that our culture tends to emphasize talking to our kids way too much. In general, and especially for toddlers, actions speak far louder than words. However, I was happily surprised to discover that I really enjoyed this book, and agreed with almost everything it had to say. It was aimed primarily at primary kids, but many of the lessons can be applied to Kindergarten children too quite easily.

The book gives what I consider to be really practical advice on how to talk to kids in ways that recognize their feelings (without labeling too much), encourages their cooperation, and helps them to be competent.  I especially loved how it shows parents how to help/let kids come up with their own solutions to problems they present.  Some of these were too advanced for toddlers, but even at my school when a child comes to me with a complaint, I'll often start out with, "Oh no!  What will you do?"  Not jumping in to solve every problem helps children feel competent and proud of themselves. Even the chapter on Praise, which made me cringe just to open it, started out looking at the difference between authentic praise and over-excessive praise, and how undeserved praise can backfire in different ways.  Then it looked at ways to praise kids that feels good to them. It is very hands-on, with exercises for you to do, and lots of actual dialogue between parents and kids. Some of these activities I experimented with my son and found quiet good and effective. In our day-to-day school activities many times we educators praise the children often without reasons and that I have seen really make the students lethargic and proud. In today’s commercialized schooling setup, we advertise for marketing purpose even small victories/deeds of our students with much exaggeration and ultimately sometimes it backfires and creates lot of indiscipline and even sometimes de-motivates them from setting high goals. If you are going through such a trauma, this book will help you to tackle the issue.

While reading the book the topics that caught my attention very much are alternative to punishment and encouraging autonomy. The lesson on engaging cooperation too is filled with plenty of practical ideas and tips which can be easily applied in our day-to-day schooling and grooming process of the children. Illustrations, conversation boxes, practical exercises and quick reminder boxes really add value to the book. The afterword additions such as the letters, yes, but…what…if… how about…? and about the negative tongue too help us have more insight in the subject. Many good books listed at the end for further reading can also help us find new readings on this subject.

 The only complaint I can come up with is that the book is very rosy in its outlook, with children going from being recalcitrant and surly to being reasonable and responsive with just a few short sentences from mom or dad. In reality, if you have negative patterns going with your child, it will take consistent practice to change those patterns. However, if things are going relatively well with your child, this book is a great resource for nipping negative interactions in the bud and helping your relationship flourish. I would definitely recommend it to preprimary and primary educators and even to all parents of young kids.

Read, Learn and Flourish!

For your success and glory!

Developing The Leaders Around You - Help Others to Reach their Full Potential – John C. Maxwell

Reviewed By Radhakrishnan Chettour

John C. Maxwell has turned to be one of my favourate authors on leadership. He is an internationally-renowned leadership expert, speaker, and author who have sold more than 18 million books. In addition to writing more than two-dozen books, he has established several organizations geared toward training and equipping leaders and has developed numerous ancillary products like tape series, handbooks and manuals, and curriculum materials. In short, he's an expert in his field and one of the best communicators out there.

Maxwell is outstanding in mining the wealth of information and resources he has amassed and recycles it all to create new books --- which means that one Maxwell book often overlaps into another one, which overlaps into another one, and so on. Longtime readers of Maxwell are well aware of this, having discovered a significant amount of familiar material in the context of information that's genuinely new. He's often criticized for this, but he still manages to sell a whole lot of books, so I suspect it isn't as much of a problem as his critics would like to believe. Whatever it is I like reading his books all the time.

Today I am here to bring a review and what all we can get from one of his magnificent book “DEVELOPING THE LEADERS AROUND YOU”. In this, Maxwell provides both inspirational and practical assistance for leaders who are committed to helping others reach their leadership potential. In his usual style, the author gets his point across by making the most of reader-friendly features like assessment tests, charts, cartoons, sports analogies, and mnemonic devices like original acronyms (such as RISE, Rewards Indicating Staff Expectations). He also sprinkles the text with well-chosen quotations --- some profound, some funny, but all of them relevant to the topic at hand.

The most important point I want to emphasis about this book is its helpfulness to people outside of the business community. It's especially appropriate for CEOs, managers and other leaders like School/college principals, but many of the principles and practical tips can be applied to people in all walks of life who supervise (or even parent) others. That's because at the heart of each principle is the priority Maxwell places on building strong relationships and learning to relate to people in a healthy and positive way. Besides, it is a stand-alone volume; there's no need to be familiar with any of Maxwell's previous works to benefit from this one.

Here's an example of what you can expect to find, from a chapter on a lifelong commitment to developing potential leaders. In addition to straight text, Maxwell offers a chart defining the distinctions among nurturing, equipping and developing others; three specific questions designed to determine the potential leader's motivation; an example of a practical plan for personal growth; a description of the four steps it takes for someone to adopt a new idea and adapt to new situations; several mnemonic devices, including the IDEA grid (Instruction, Demonstration, Exposure, Accountability); 10 guidelines for positive confrontation; and an analysis of the six levels of leadership growth. Clearly, this is an author who covers all the bases.

Anyone who has read Maxwell knows that he has a reputation for excelling in communicating his ideas. With DEVELOPING THE LEADERS AROUND YOU, that reputation remains intact. His casual, anecdotal style makes this an enjoyable read --- not bad for a topic that could easily produce the opposite result.

For my readers I am giving here a list of what I learned from this book. If you wish to have the real learning excitement from this book you must get a copy of this book and read it for yourself.

Major Takeaways:

  •  Acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task.
  • Grow a leader – grow the organization.
  • Everything rises and falls on leadership.
  •  It takes a leader to know a leader, grow a leader, and show a leader.
  • There is no success without a successor.
  • A leader’s success can be defined as the maximum utilization of the abilities of those under him.
  • Momentum is the greatest of all change agents.
  • It takes a leader with vision to see the future leader within the person.
  • To develop positive, successful people, look for the gold, not the dirt.
  • Character flaws cannot be ignored. They will eventually make a leader ineffective.
  • A proven leader always has a proven track record.
  • A great leader has the ability to instill within his people confidence in themselves.
  • Liking people is the beginning of the ability to communicate.
  • A leader who loves the status quo soon becomes a follower.
  • Seek people who seek solutions.
  • Nurturing has the ability to transform people’s lives.
  • Leadership can only function on the basis of trust.
  • Time spent with a potential leader is an investment.
  • When you believe in people, you motivate them and release their potential.
  • It is the leader’s job to hold hope high.
  • Spend 80 percent of your time on the most promising 20 percent of the potential leaders around you.
  • Equipping, like nurturing, is an ongoing process. Equipping must be tailored to each potential leader.
  • A person should be spending 80 percent of his time doing things that require his greatest gifts and abilities.
  • All good mentoring relationships begin with a personal relationship.
  • The leader must know his people well enough to identify attainable goals that require a stretch.
  • Good leaders are good listeners.
  • Every idea is a good idea until you’ve settled on the best idea.
  • Personal growth is like investing. It’s not your timing. It’s your time in.
  • Excellence breeds character, and character breeds excellence.
  • Teams that don’t bond can’t build.
  • A good team fit requires an attitude of partnership.
  • Individualism wins trophies, but teamwork wins pennants.
  • Knowing where their team stands at every moment separates the great players from the adequate players.
  • Success comes down to sacrifice-willing to pay the price.
  • Having the right players determines 60 to 80 percent of the success of any organization.
  • Problems almost always create opportunities – to learn, grow, and improve.
  • Good coaches approach each opponent from a fresh perspective.
  • Respect must be earned over time. There are no shortcuts.
  • Give opportunities, resources, and playing time according to players’ past performance.
  • Delegation is the most powerful tool leaders have.
  • People development is life-changing for everyone involved.
  • Believe in people, and they will rise to fulfill that belief.
  • Look for opportunities to share yourself with people.
  • People become empowered when you provide them with three things: opportunity, freedom, and security.
  • To live a worthwhile, meaningful life, a person must be a part of something greater than himself.
  • One of the greatest rewards of adding value to people is that it comes back to you multiplied.
  • A leader who produces other leaders multiplies his influence.
  • True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.
  • Relational skills are the most important abilities in leadership.
  • How big we think determines the size of our accomplishments.
  • Progress and innovation are made by people who think without lines.
  • Give your leaders deep, broad roots by growing them slowly and varying their experiences.
  • Managers are maintainers, tending to rely on systems and controls. Leaders are innovators and creators who rely on people.
  • If you want to become an expert in a subject, according to Earl Nightingale, spend an hour a day for five years focusing on that subject.

Read, Learn and Flourish!

For your success and glory!