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!