Playground dynamics are not limited to the kids on the swings and the slides. Moms have a chance to interact during playgroups, social outings, school functions and other kid-inspired events. Some moms make friends naturally while others struggle to socialize. If you're always the "odd mom out," what can you do to improve your mommy likability rating?
Vivian Scott, an experienced mediator and author of Conflict Resolution at Work for Dummies has some valuable tips for women looking to get along better with the moms around them.
If you don't see the need to be friendly with other moms on the playground or in another social setting, you may want to reconsider. "No man is an island and no mom can go it alone," says Scott. "We need each other! The best thing about getting to know other moms is realizing how normal your struggles are." While it may be uncomfortable for you to approach another mom or reciprocate when someone tries to spark a conversation, you could certainly end up benefitting from leaving your comfort zone.
Do you find yourself wondering why moms on the playground aren't coming up to you to chat while animated conversations seem to be taking place everywhere you look? Consider your non-verbal communication. Your facial expressions, tone of voice and body language are powerful tools to either attract or repel potential friends. "If you have a tendency to avoid eye contact, look preoccupied or use a sharp tone of voice, work to correct that behavior and be a little forgiving if you see someone else doing these things," says Scott. "Sometimes I'll see this behavior with another person and ask, 'Are you having a rough day?' If they are, they almost always melt. If there's no apparent reason for the standoffish behavior, they now know they're doing it."
While most moms are well-meaning, sometimes personal differences lead to disagreements or an uncomfortable situation. In such cases, Scott provides the following tips to resolve the conflict:
- If a conflict arises between you and another mom, keep in mind she's not against you, she's simply for herself. That means that if she's disagreeing with you, she's probably defending something that's important to her -- perhaps respect or security. Seeing things from her perspective (which is not the same as agreeing, by the way) helps you figure out a solution that would work for both of you.
- Also, the words you choose can make a big difference. Use "and" instead of "but," "I" instead of "you" and be especially careful with words like "always," and "never" and phrases like "that was the worst thing I've ever experienced." That kind of language just makes the conflict about the words and doesn't get to the core of what you really need to resolve.
- Look at conflict as an opportunity. Many people see disagreements and tension as a symptom of something that's wrong. I say it's an indicator for an opportunity to make things better. Improved relationships, better play environments for the kids and strong alliances are all things that have the potential to come out of conflict.
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