So now think about all of the interactions that you have on a daily basis. I have found myself reflecting on this quite a bit of late as I have been involved in several difficult conversations, and we are only 3 weeks into the school year! These conversations have been with students, teachers and parents. My reflections have focused on how I have approached each of these conversations. As leaders, we strive to send clear messages. We strive to invoke "fairness" in our interactions. But this is where it starts to get "mushy", as my son would say. Inevitably, every person is different. So how do we send clear messages, invoke the change we want or come to a resolution that satisfies everyone when each person might need something different?
What I have come to realize, however, is that when I stay focused on the individual I am speaking with, drawing out their story first, they feel heard and respected and it has made the subsequent portion of the conversation, (you know, the one where we have to talk about changing behavior, or identifying an appropriate solution or compromise) much smoother. And because I allow them to feel heard, there is some level of trust created. Our conversation may not result in the same consequences for them as for the other people I am also talking to. But I don't know how much that matters. What matters to me is establishing clear boundaries and a commonality of expectation.
Just as every person is different, so are the paths they can take to arrive at a desired outcome. Thus, for me, fairness in my interactions includes creating a safe, open environment for discussion and a solution that engenders change.
I am always striving to improve my practice and this is one tool that I feel I have been able to hone to a place that it works for me most of the time and I'll take it. What practice have you been working on this year?