Practice Your Scales (not music scales!)

Latest News Thursday, 04 Mar 2021

When arguments with the kids or with each other sound too black and white it's time to find the grey zones.

Watch people argue again and again and you'll notice that they start appearing rigid pretty quickly. They seem certain of their point of view and they seem clear in their position – self-righteously so at times.

Sometimes they sound completely unwilling to change their position, however, scratch the surface of most arguments and we discover that even when words and the tone used convey certainty, the reality is anything but certain. It's the pushback in arguments that makes us dig in our heels and hide the nuances and ‘grey’ in our (or the kids’) points of view.

We can change this dynamic with a strategy of asking simple quick questions - referred to as ‘practising scales’. The question invites the other person (your child) to place themselves along a continuum. A real conversation always contains an invitation and in this method, you are inviting another child/person to reveal herself / himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want. 

We practise scales by asking questions like these: 

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how sure are you that your picture/understanding/idea of the problem is complete and accurate?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how willing are you to consider additional/alternate ways to solve this problem? 
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how willing are you to take my/his/her point of view into account? 
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to the agreement of the plan or solution we are considering? 
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to solving this problem?

With questions like these we give the other person (and kids) the opportunity to reconsider their rigid position. Many times, this gives parents the much-needed ‘wiggle room’ to explore options and different positions.

Practising scales with questions like these is also useful for helping a team or group think thoroughly through a problem.

Don't try to practise scales skills when the conversation is heated as you will get 10 in reply because they're not likely to be rationally honest when they're irritated with you. Practise scales after the heat subsides.

By the way it works even better when you share where you stand on the same scale you're asking them about. This will show them the grey in your own thinking and give both of you even more ‘wiggle room’ to work with. Sometimes it's helpful to offer your own shade of grey first!

Book a tour today!

Contact Us