There’s not much more that I like than a good party. Combine that with making people feel joy, and I’m a happy girl. Which is why I have volunteered to be Party Coordinator for my son’s classroom since he was in preschool…this is my 4th year. Second grade…where the kids are still able to express unbridled joy without feeling like they look “uncool”.
It took a couple of “hiccups” for me to learn some things about how to make the parties flow well, keep the kids entertained, and make sure things stay manageable without losing control.
As I prepare for the first party of the year, I realize that what I’ve learned translates well to the workplace.
Keep it simple.
Just as I could easily get carried away with how involved a craft can be and how many supplies are required (which would overwhelm the kids), I can get caught up in all the little details of a project at work.Rather than letting all those details distract me, or become too much for my focus, I break things down into manageable pieces. Once I do that, it becomes as easy as checking the little things off my list as I accomplish them. Simple.
Everyone wants validation.
This is true not only in the workplace, but in your relationships as well…heck, even strangers you interact with want to feel validated.
“I want you to hear me, I want you to see me.”
We’re all still those little kids in the classroom, I think…even when we grow up…needing to be understood. Look people in the eyes when you speak to them, use your active listening skills when they speak to you, make others feel like they are the only person in the room even within a group…connect!
“Let me help you glue that bead on, honey.” No different than “I understand this is a big project…how can I help you?”
Keep moving forward.
The best formula for classroom parties, I have found, is to start the kids out as a big group and let them burn off some energy. I teach yoga and stress management skills, so naturally I bring that in. We move…a lot (all that anticipation makes for a lot of energy!), and I encourage critical thinking by involving them in a story we tell together.
Then we divide into “stations” where they may play a game, do a craft, or have a snack. Whatever they do, they’re involved in the moment. Yet as soon as they’ve finished, they’re moving on to the next thing…as kids, they don’t seem to “hang on” to what has already happened.
At some point, I almost always have to reel the kids in and keep them present…when the energy ramps up too much and listening becomes more challenging. “Quiet everyone…all eyes on me!” Well, that one’s just a side perk that validates my “I like being in the spotlight” side. 😉 But in all honesty, sometimes we as adults need that too…re-focus to get back on track.
How does this translate to the workplace? If you’re working with a group on a project, start it off with involving everyone in some way…have a group think meeting, throw ideas around, discuss goals together. Then divide and conquer! Which leads me to…
If I were to plan a party without treats, I would surely face group harassment and persecution. Kids are SERIOUS about their treats. And you can’t trick them with fruit. If I came to your party expecting cake and you gave me a slice of watermelon, I would organize a group protest (and honestly, the hungrier I am, the sassier I get, so it’s in your best interest to feed me something tasty).
Sure, it LOOKS pretty…but who are you fooling?
Let your co-workers / employees know you appreciate their work by rewarding them. I don’t mean actual rewards…specially made ribbons with “Your effort is appreciated!” are just…well, creepy. But simply taking time out of your day to check in with them…a phone call, a quick visit to their office or desk to say “You’re doing great!” goes a long way. Remember that whole validation thing? Yeah…verbal treats help reinforce that.
And a Snickers bar sure wouldn’t hurt either.
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This post is part of the FYB “31 Days to Quiet the Voices in Your Head” series. Read more about it HERE.