Authors

Unlike many management books, Bare Knuckle People Management treats the readers like they actually have brains. The authors, O’Neil and Kulisek, show managers how to use what they already know and listen to their gut instincts in order to best manage their diverse workforces.

—Clifford A. Teller, Executive Managing Director of Global Investment Banking, Maxim Group

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Hold My Hand

In my house, I proudly refer to myself as the Kid Closer. As long as I was home at kiddie bedtime, my role was to put my four kids away. I became the Mariano Rivera of bedtime. My wife, Erin, would argue that Mariano was a more visible bullpen presence than I ever was in our house around bedtime, but I’ll leave that debate to her blog…should she ever start one.

One day, after a particularly brutal business travel stint, I was immediately ushered back into closer duties to assist with my daughter Julia, who was 4 at the time. Closing Julia was no small task, as she was notoriously clingy and afraid of the dark – it had been a growing problem for Erin. I was exhausted from travel, but Julia needed someone to close her. Erin made a call to the bullpen. Enter Sandman.

After reading Julia one of the many dreadful children’s books parents are forced to read their children, we chatted, as was custom, and then had the following exchange:

Me: Ok kid, 2 minutes, 30 seconds until lights out.
Julia: Wait, Dad, didn’t you hear the new rules?
Me: Rules? Mom made rules for the closer?
Julia: No, not Mom’s rules… My rules.
Me: Oh. You made rules for the closer? No, I haven’t heard. What are they?
Julia: One, no minutes, no seconds. Two, tell me when you’re leaving—don’t just kiss me—tell me AND kiss me. And three, hold my hand so I know when you’re leaving.

Let’s breakdown each of Julia’s rules and their intended message:

Julia’s Rule Julia’s Message to the Closer
1. No minutes, no seconds. Guy, enough with the countdown. I can see what you’re doing. When you need to leave, just let me know. The countdown only adds to the stress of your leaving, and I can’t take it.
2. Tell me when you’re leaving—don’t just kiss me—tell me AND kiss me. You think I’m asleep, and then you slip out of the bed hoping not to wake me. Honestly. How cowardly of you. I want you to man up and tell me when you’re leaving. You at least owe me that, dammit.
3. Hold my hand so I know when you’re leaving. You’re my father. It would be nice if you acted like it sometimes. Hold my hand, for God’s sake. Would that kill you? (Oh, and it also let’s me know if you’re leaving in case you mess up Rule #2.)

I was taken aback by Julia’s boldness, but I vowed to give the new rules a try. And, what do you know…they worked!

It’s nice when people tell you exactly how they plan to solve a problem and what they need from you to participate in the solution. First, it arms you with direct-from-the-source information about what will make them happy. You can use it to sculpt a winning strategy for dealing with them – for this problem and others. Second, and perhaps more important, they take ownership over the solution, so if it fails, they’re not pointing at you and telling you how much you screwed it up!

With Julia, we more or less follow her rules to this day, and bedtime has become infinitely more pleasant. Sure, we have made some tweaks (for example, I have to open and shut her closet doors each night), but by and large, the bedtime routine runs like clockwork.

It’s been nice for Julia, as bedtime isn’t as tortured as it once was. But it’s been nice for the Kid Closer too, as he’s getting on in years, and can’t be relied upon to get out of the same jams he once did.

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12 Comments

  1. by joanne on

    Cute…funny. Loved it!

    Reply

  2. by Bill Foxx on

    I can’t wait to read the “Cassie” chapter! Congratulations!

    Reply

    • by Sean O'Neil on

      Thanks Bill! I just added Cassie to my list of potential topics. Great suggestion!

      Reply

  3. by Jim Giangrande on

    Sean,Could totally identify on all fronts, both personally and professionally. You may have to write a parenting book too!

    Reply

    • by Sean O'Neil on

      Thanks for the kind words and your support, Jim!

      Reply

  4. by Tracy Esposito on

    Sean, This is Great Stuff. It’s true.. sometimes when we stop and listen we learn so much:) Huge Hugs to all the O’Neils!!

    Reply

    • by Sean O'Neil on

      Thanks for the note, Tracy! Hope all the Espo’s are well as well!

      Reply

  5. by Mike Long on

    Would I have to sign a consulting retainer to get you to come and tuck me in like that ever once in awhile? I promise to be clear about my expectations.

    Reply

    • by Sean O'Neil on

      I typically bundle in tuck-ins as part of my training package. Thanks for the note, Mike!

      Reply

  6. by julia on

    love this story! that’s me!

    Reply

    • by Sean O'Neil on

      thanks Jules – it sure is about you!

      Reply

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