Skip to main content

Try to Understand People

I recently finished reading Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends & Influence People, a book originally published in 1936 and filled with much wisdom that remains true today. While a lot of the supporting anecdotes are from the past, the overarching idea remains the same. I could sum this entire book up with a lesson from R.J. Palacio's Wonder: "If you have to choose between being right or being kind, choose kind."

In my interactions with kids, with adults, or even with my wife, I'm taking this book to heart. Language matters, and the reminders in this book of how we communicate and send messages to others are important. The book doesn't call for large, substantive shifts in our habits. This can all be accomplished by slowing down and appreciating the interaction between humans.

For me, I'm thinking of three specific "moves" that I can start to make today:

  1. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. 
  2. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. 
  3. Let the other person save face.
This will definitely be a book that I'll return to, even if it just to skim the notes that I made along the way. The things I need to work on now might not be the same a month from now or five years from now. Regardless, interacting with others is an essential part of teaching, and I know that I can always get better. 

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Handwritten Cue Cards in the 21st Century

I just stumbled upon this behind-the-scenes clip of Saturday Night Live's cue card process.

This is intense writing. This is writing that is dependent upon trust and checks and balances.

Over a short period of time, skits are written, drafted on cards, revised, and the cards revised over and over again.

I also really love that SNL continues to use cue cards and not a teleprompter. Like Wally points out, technology can fail. Handwritten cue cards ensure the show goes on.

Comedy is hard work. Writing is hard work. Changes are made up until the last minute to get things just right. This is a form of real-world writing.

I should’ve taken the time

Yesterday during a teacher observation, a student asked me to step into the hall and talk with them. At the time, it didn’t seem urgent. With this student in particular, we have talked often. Sometimes it was important, other times—from my perspective—it didn’t seem that urgent. 
When I asked her if it could wait 10 minutes, she shut down. I could see the change in how she sat and participated, withdrawing into her desk and no longer asking for help from those around her. There was a noticeable difference in how she interacted with her peers the minute those words came out. 
When I noticed the change, I tried to drop everything right there and talk with her. Let’s go talk, right now, I said. No, it’s fine, she replied. And despite my multiple check-ins while she was working independently, she declined the opportunity to talk again that hour. 
Without even realizing it, I had damaged our relationship. 
We ended up talking later that the day. I saw her as she walked to her next class period…

Like in comedy, timing is everything

I regularly listen to the School Leadership Series and today's episode, "Slump or Spark?", made me think about initiatives, goals, and how we often get stuck in the middle.

Danny encourages us to think about the middle, the "often overlooked time." He encourages us to think about midpoints, the lull, and how we can transform them into sparks instead of slumps. He encourages us to be aware of them, use them to "wake up," and to imagine that we are behind rather than ahead in order to motivate us out of "coast" mode.

He also mentions Dan Pink's When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing in the episode. In this book, Pink gives advice for the varied levels of commitment during the middle: "... when team commitment to achieving a goal is high, it's best to emphasize the work that remains. But when team commitment is low, it's wiser to emphasize the progress that has already been made even if it is not massive" (p. 139).