5 Ways Parenthood Made Me a Better Professional
Parenthood pushed me to approach work with purpose.
When interviewing for jobs, I am the interviewer just as much as I am the interviewee. If
I'm going to spend a considerable amount of time away from my children, I want to
make sure I am doing work I enjoy with good people. Company culture and values
matter to me. Am I doing something that makes a positive impact on someone else's
life? These are the things I think about when evaluating companies and roles.
I'm a better communicator and a better negotiator.
Negotiating with a toddler is similar to dealing with a terrorist (haha). Seriously, to make
any headway with my toddler, I must use FBI-level negotiation skills. The Behavioral
Change Stairway is an FBI staple for communicating in high-stakes crisis negotiations. It
involves the use of active listening, empathy, rapport building and influence to change
behavior. This skill is beneficial in work settings as it ultimately makes me a better
negotiator and communicator. I have the skills and daily practice to communicate
effectively with impact.
I'm intentional about how I focus my time and more thoughtful about the way I work.
I'm often too tired to care about what people think of me beyond my work quality, my
character and meeting deadlines. Whether this means declining a meeting that doesn't push the business goals forward and using my time more productively or using my PTO to regroup mentally, I am more confident in managing my time. Being a mom also made me a better advocate for myself when doing the work-life balance dance. I'm also more efficient and proactive when approaching projects. I don't feel the pressure to be the first in the office, or the last. I know what needs to be done to get the job done, and confident in my ability to do it in a manner that suits my lifestyle.
Change doesn't knock me off my square. I'm adaptable.
As a parent, my household dynamic is ever-changing, depending on what's going on in
my kids'lives. The moment I feel I've got a routine in place, the situation quickly
changes; a new growth spurt or developmental milestone comes along, and suddenly
new questions need to be addressed. My daughter is learning to walk, while my son
knows EVERYTHING, except when to tell me he needs to use the potty on time. Our
parenting journeys evolve with our children. Dealing with this everyday chaos makes me
better at creating my own dynamic capabilities. I'm more adaptive to change in my
professional life — to cope with change while learning from it. Uncertainty or rapid
change doesn't overwhelm me like it did before I had kids.
I manage conflict better.
As free-thinking adults from various backgrounds, sometimes conflict is inevitable in the
workplace. We can learn a lot from children. My kids will cry about a playmate taking a
toy one moment and are back playing with the same kid the next moment. They tend to
be very forgiving. When interacting with co-workers with different personalities or
opinions, I try not to make the conflict about me. Instead, I use emotional intelligence to
best determine how we can work together effectively in the same sandbox. If both parties have good intentions, we can usually find a common ground. A disagreement during a meeting doesn't mean we can never play nice together again.