Book Study on Relating and Communicating. Great Book!

I have been reading the book “If I Understood You Would I Have This Look on My Face” by Alan Alda.  Its about the science of relating and communicating, and I find it fascinating.   I’ve chosen to savor this book, one or two chapters at a time, so I can learn and really let each part sink in.   I think its really helping me in my job, training me to be a better listener, empathizer, and communicator.

For example, he writes about using the strategy “yes, and”.  Instead of shooting down an idea, really listen to it, repeat the general idea of it (that’s the “yes”), and add your spin on it.  It could be a tweak, an observation, a question, but never just shooting it down.  I tried this at work, and it ended up being a very productive conversation with a teacher on how to do what she wanted to do, but she was open to advice about how to do it.

Its all about being tuned in vs tough.  Here’s another thing I’ve learned from this book so far.  In the past, I’d used the compliment sandwich. You know, where you meet for a post observation, pay a compliment, offer a suggestion for improvement, and end with a compliment.   Instead, I’m going to try the “tuned in” approach: “Mrs. Smith, the way you handled __________ was excellent.  Now I want you to apply that level of skill to doing _______________”.  I think this could work!

Stay tuned, I’ll write more about this later.  I haven’t been this excited about a book that can help me at work for a while!



Women and Leadership

I’ve been a school leader for almost a decade.  During this time, I’m slowly becoming aware of a network that I naively didn’t realize existed.  Shoot, I was always at work until sundown, then too tired to go anywhere but home to my family.  I didn’t pay much attention to anyone else’s social life, and I made friends with people just because we liked each other, not work related at all.  Then I noticed that it appeared that the men I worked with knew things before I did. They’d heard it through their network.  The network is exclusively men who are local school leaders.  Its not a formal club, but they meet…in a restaurant, over for a football game, lunch, or happy hour.  Playing sports, like tennis or biking.  And they meet often.

Recently, instead of sitting back and complaining its a “mans world” or some other cliche to throw around, I decided to try to support the other women in this profession.  We tried, not very successfully, to meet for coffee or lunch or happy hour.  More often than not, it is cancelled because of a last minute work assignment or a family duty.  I think I need to keep trying.  This job needs all the support we can give each other.

Along the same kind of line,  today I heard our pastor talk about leadership in the church being exclusively for men.  I respect the Bible and its teachings, but when do we interpret in the cultural context of the time and adapt it to current US culture and when do we apply the doctrine literally?   Has our culture changed?  I thought so, but today I’m not so sure.

I’ve never been a bra burning angry feminist…but I’m frustrated today.

Leading in a small town

Its tricky being a leader in a small community.  On the one hand, its kind of  nice when I see parents and students and they smile at me.  On the other hand, if I accept the praise, I’d better be ready to accept the judgement.  Can I go out and have a glass of wine with dinner?  What church do I decide to attend?  Should I open up to anyone (NO!).

I’m still learning to navigate this little county where I’ve served in two schools so far.  I wish we could collaborate more with other leaders, even just to vent and problem solved together.  Because out in public, I keep that smile on my face, no matter what.