Today I encountered a person that make me feel rather uncomfortable. It was at kids sport. Little kids. This man was loud, brash and yelled a lot. Part of what he said I felt was valid, of use, constructive. Some of the time he was encouraging the kids to support each other, to watch each other, to be there for each other. But the rest of the time he was barking instructions at them. Telling them what to do. Loudly. Often.
In the meantime I watched some of the coaches out in the field with the kids. Teaching. Explaining. Encouraging. I watched the children absorb the information and learn from it.
The differences were profound. The difference between "talking to" and "talking (yelling) at". Between "teaching" and "telling". The last few weeks I have watched happy little faces, proud of their efforts, whether they won or lost. Faces that showed that they'd had a good time, that they were enjoying themselves. That their efforts counted for something. This morning I noticed a tension, a competitiveness, and nowhere near as many smiles or as much laughter. I wonder what this person was taught as a child? I wonder what I'm teaching? What can I do differently? Where can I do better?