Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tough Conversations - Revisited

Our most recent in-class leadership session was all about having difficult conversations and the tools needed (rapport, listening set asides, and pause/paraphrase) to assist with those conversations. We were assigned a "homework" activity that involved engaging in a difficult/necessary/courageous conversation at home or at work. After having our tough conversation, we were to communicate our experience to our course instructor by providing 5 sentences/keywords/mind map (or whatever we wish) to express ourselves.

I took some time to think about any situations at work that I needed to deal with. It didn't take very long before I decided who I needed to talk to and the topic of the conversation. After my tough conversation I emailed my course instructor with the following message:
Here are my 5 points with respect to a difficult/necessary conversation I had:
Anxiety provoking
Prepared for negative

One of the teachers at our school is new and I share lunch duty with her. It was around a duty issue. We get along and I would say that I have a good rapport with her. So when I talked to her about the issue I told her that I wanted to ask her something and perhaps provide some advice for future reference. I know she is sensitive so I didn't want to upset her - my intention was to inform her and let her know how her decisions were impacting me. It turned out to be good.

My 5 words (I know that I used more than 5) reflect my experience. I felt anxious, I spent time reflecting on the situation and my feelings about what was going on, I acted by speaking to my colleague, I prepared myself for a negative reaction on her part (worst case scenario), and when she spoke I actually listened to her. From MY perspective, I think things went well. My next step is to figure out if things are ok on her end as well. This is something I am currently thinking about. Sometimes when you have tough conversations things go they way you planned but how is the other person feeling? I am going to look further into that aspect of these tough conversations. 

As I think about the tools needed to have difficult conversations, I have to say that the one that stands out for me the most is the one about rapport. The leadership framework for principals has a pillar (1/5th of the document) about building relationships and developing people. Upon further investigation, the pillar is all about the practices that build rapport and the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will make the practices useful and authentic.

Here is a closer look at the pillar and its expectations:

I look forward to continuing to work on the expectations in this pillar with the people I work with everyday. Moreover, I look forward to looking into the other side of tough conversations and examine what it means for things to "good" on both sides of the conversation.