Friday, April 15, 2016

Difficult discussions are opportunities for growth: let's grow together!

Here's some advice for helping ourselves through crucial conversations which we must have, every day, with many others. . . . sometimes planned, often unplanned - and deep in the fourth quarter of a school year, staff tensions, parental conflict or dissatisfaction from a stakeholder may be the impetus for these school-based conversations. They offer great opportunities for personal growth and organizational improvement, so embrace them as such! Here are some reminders to educators for positive and productive outcomes from difficult discussions:
  • Remember that if someone is talking to you - that is good! They value you, they believe you can help, they believe you have the power to positively assist them. 
  • Listen first, then talk
  • Rehearse empathy statements (sometimes that's only a "thank you for sharing that" but often it can be more meaningful than that)
  • If you are mad or defensive because you feel accused, count down before responding or wait it out until you realize your anger has dissipated. Anger is destructive to relationships, instills fear in others, and erodes trust.
  • Dignify other peoples' concerns (this is challenging when the concerns may seem trivial - remind yourself the concern is very real to the person conveying it.)
  • Don't overshare emotions or negativity to subordinates 
  • Make your personal wellness plan a priority - this vocation is tough work and it takes a toll, one thing you can control is caring for yourself. 
  • Don't take the people who love you for granted just because they're around you today. Tell 'em thanks.
  • Remember that compassion fatigue is a real thing and it would be common to feel that way mid-April. Have the self-awareness to know when it is setting in and address it proactively!
Friends and colleagues, I hope you have a strong finish to the 2015-16 school year!