8 ways parenthood can make you better at your job

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(MoneyWatch) People always say that becoming a parent changes everything. Does that include affecting your work? I asked dozens of parents how raising kids has made them better at their jobs. Below are eight stories I heard about how the compassion, patience, and even conflict-resolution skill parents had to summon up on the home front changed their approach to work. Have one to add? Please share it in the comments section.

I have better time management skills. When I became a mother, I found that my time management skills were perfected. I began to organize things the night before and would be awake earlier in the mornings to get things done. I also learned to multi-task more efficiently, which has made me better at my job managing my clients. -- Kate Shamon, PR consultant

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I have better advice for my clients. I'm a restructuring advisor for troubled businesses, and my specialization is crisis management. I have a 15-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. Many of my clients waste an enormous amount of resources being concerned with their image within their own industry -- not the target market, but their competitors. Seeing the parallel with my daughter [and her peers], I appreciate what this behavior might mean to the client and how it effects their decisions. -- Nat Wasserstein, Lindenwood Associates

It gave me thicker skin. Most PR professionals recognize that a thick skin shields our "Energizer Bunny" spirits from the rejection of reporters, the red-pen edits, or a client's reaction to what we thought was a brilliant idea. In the world of parenting, you quickly learn that your child's rejection of your cooking is not personal. When they scream at you for turning off the TV or tell you they hate you for grounding them, you know it's because you are actually doing something right. In both PR and parenting, having a thick skin, a sense of humor -- and the occasional large glass of wine -- help us keep our blood pressure down and things in perspective. -- Samantha McGarry, vice president, InkHouse

I'm more compassionate. I'm much more patient, and think that my ability to train and mentor has also been enhanced as a parent. I am more aware of nonverbal communication, and I find that I'm a great motivator to my staff. The same way I motivate and praise my kids for a job well done, I transfer this to the workplace and demonstrate to my team how much I value their commitment to doing a great job. -- Linda Woody, communications manager

I'm more savvy at resolving conflicts. With three boys, there's a lot of competing interests and headbutting. Often, getting them to articulate in words what they are thinking is the key to finding ways for them to come to mutually agreeable solutions. I do this with my team members, as well. The are often acting out of something they are not saying, instead of what they are actually complaining about. So getting them to talk through it in a non-adversarial environment can bring these things out and then help them to help me respond to their needs and resolve their issues. -- Michele Colucci, CEO of MyLawsuit.com.

I understand people's unique values. I know better how to utilize employees and coworkers for their strengths, and either support them in their weaknesses or work around them. I have gained this skill because my two kids are very different from each other. My daughter is outgoing and athletic, and my son is autistic and very socially awkward. What I say most often when someone complains about a mutual coworker, "That person has many strengths, however, (patience, writing skills, leaderships, etc.) is not one of those strengths." -- Anne M. Woods, public relations director, Hope For The Warriors

I can spot a back-stabbing whiner. I've always held that parenting made me a better manager. Bill Cosby said you can't be a parent until you have two or more children. He said when you walk in the living room and the lamp is broken, each kid pointing to the other, that's when you become a parent. Same thing with management. I've learned to fire the back-stabber. Don't come to me complaining about another worker without discussing your grievance with them, or coming up with a solution. -- Richard Kelleher, marketing sociologist

They keep me on my toes in terms of technology. As my young children became young teenagers, the Internet opened up to them. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and social-media secrets were quickly discovered and shared with me, as only teenagers can do. In the past 12 years, I have truly learned so much about social media that I have become better at my job. -- Sherry Gavanditti, PR media specialist, Menorah Park Center for Senior Living

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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