The other day, I had a follow-up for a routine medical procedure that involved an ultrasound – which meant a visit from the attending radiologist when I was still on the examining table, all gooped up.
I was pleased when he told me that everything was normal – but less pleased when he started touching my arm in an odd, clumsy way. It kind of felt like we were on a first date that wasn’t going all that well.
I could be wrong, but my guess is that he received feedback at some point to the effect that “patients feel comforted when their doctor touches them.” And if this feels natural for the doctor, then it’s probably a great thing.
The problem was that this sort of touch was so clearly not an authentic move for this particular doctor – he struck me as a very matter-of-fact, by-the-numbers sort of person rather than a touchy-feely type. Because he wasn’t comfortable administering that touch, I wasn’t comfortable receiving it.
(I think we’ve all experienced a similar phenomenon with folks I like to think of as “bad huggers.” They’re probably not bad huggers with everyone, but you know when you’re on the receiving end of a hug that should never have been initiated in the first place. It’s just an icky feeling.)
I bring all this up to emphasize the importance of authenticity in both your marketing and your center’s administration generally.
Child care centers have almost as many varied personalities as the children they serve. When you close your eyes and think of your center, the first word that comes to mind may be nurturing. Or fun. Or cozy. Or any number of other things. (Note that if your word is chaos, you’ve probably got some things to work on!)
In any event, all of your communications – both internal and external – should be consistent with this overall tone of your center. Obviously, even in an artsy place your employment contracts should not be drawn up in crayon, but you get the idea.
You should be proud about what you are, and clear about what you offer, rather than trying to be something you’re not.
When you stray too far from what your center is truly all about – either in an effort to be impressive, or just because you’re not paying close enough attention – you start to confuse, and even alienate, the parents and staff at your center. Over time, they may start to drift away due to this type of identity crisis.
Even if you’re not touching their arms in a weird way.