Tag Archives: communication

Reduce Conflicts… Increase your EQ

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/ CC License - Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/
CC License – Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Due to a fortuitous convergence of related articles I have been thinking a lot about Emotional Intelligence, whether we can change it for ourselves and how one’s EQ relates to interpersonal conflicts.

Unless you live in a bubble you’re likely exposed to POTENTIAL interpersonal conflicts on a weekly (if not daily) basis. I say POTENTIAL because we have a fair bit of control over whether these actually develop into conflicts. Having two teenage children, right now, I have been reflecting A LOT on how to reduce interpersonal conflict (that should give you a clue as to how often these potential conflicts develop!). Occasionally, conflicts at work also occur… So, I read a useful article on “Five Secrets for Mastering Conflict” published by the “VitalSmarts” folks who are behind Crucial Conversations and CrucialSkills. Skills for Change. Change for Good.

Essentially, before having a crucial/difficult conversation…

  • Be truthful without being brutally honest. I like to call it compassionate honesty.
  • Get your facts straight first and link them to your feelings… don’t just share your feelings without facts, it turns people off and causes them to tune you out, fast.
  • Don’t listen defensively, listen with true intent to understand the other’s perspective.
  • Take honest responsibility for how YOU have contributed to the situation.
  • Instead of being afraid of saying something because you fear the costs, if things don’t go well, consider the costs if you don’t say what needs to be said and try to think positive about how the conversation could turn out if it goes well.

The possible problem with all this is that these skills directly relate to one’s Emotional Intelligence. So… if your EQ isn’t great, what do you do? Can an EQ be increased? The good news is, it can! It’s not easy but there are some basic, positives to get us going down the path to improvement. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in the Harvard Business Review, there are 5 key points to consider:

  1. We CAN change our EQ but long term improvements require plenty of hard work and guidance/feedback. Luckily, our EQ tends to naturally improve with age.
  2. Interpersonal Skills is the most coachable characteristic of one’s EQ.
  3. To improve, we need specific and accurate feedback – like, 360-degree feedback and other specific, accurate coaching processes.
  4. Since some techniques and processes are better than others, focus on the ones that are in the “cognitive-behavioral therapy” realm NOT the “self-esteem/confidence-building” realm.
  5. Some people are simply more coachable than others… this is not a reason to give up! This is a reason to do a coachability pre-assessment to help initially map the journey and increase the effectiveness of the coaching.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_Intelligence_2.0 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_Intelligence_2.0
    This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The bottom line is, if you really want to improve, there are concrete ways to do it that can help you develop better interpersonal communication skills that can help reduce conflict. Here is another resource on improving one’s EQ:

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Changing Paradigms for Changing Times? Thank you!

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

“The most important aspect of digital leadership is establishing a vision and a strategic plan for increasing authentic engagement of students in the teaching and learning process”  ~ Sheninger, Jan. 2014

So… I just finished reading Eric Sheninger‘s new book – Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. I also learned a new word. Heutagogical 

Here’s my conundrum: So often I feel that there’s this huge divide between those who are ‘on-board’ with digital literacy and leadership, supporting innovative education with passion and creativity, and those educators who are still pretty much stuck in the good ole days! I’m excited and honored to be connected to so many like-minded, 21st century focused educators but I feel like we often write about and promote ideas that are basically preaching to the choir. We read each others’ posts and share them/like them… It’s the educators who aren’t yet in the choir that we somehow need to connect to. How can we best do that!?

Sheninger does a great job of providing a plan for those who aren’t yet ‘connected’ to take those steps forward to become a digital leader. I have no doubt that many like-minded educators will greatly enjoy Digital Leadership. Hopefully, by reading this book, talking about this book and recommending it to others the ideas will spread.

So… the book. It provides a solid rationale for schools to start transforming into 21st century learning organizations. Sheninger lays out a very clear plan, with specific examples, for those who are just starting out to really embrace digital leadership. As Yong Zhao puts it, in the Foreword, “A framework for leading educational transformation with technology.” I was especially interested in his brief discussions of Web 3.0. Sheninger really pulls from all the current 21st century education thought leaders (Yong Zhao, Andrew Churches, Alec Couros, George Couros, Bill Ferriter and many more) as well as more traditional but still current educational leadership thought leaders like Michael Fullan and others.

There are so many wonderful points that Sheninger hits (the following are in no way a comprehensive list!):

  • The world has changed… and so must schools!
  • The array of digital tools available to schools to enhance learning, increase engagement, connect globally and communicate more effectively is enormous (Interactive White Boards. Chromebooks, Tablets, Web 2.0 apps [like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Prezi, Wikis, Animoto, etc.], Video Conferencing software, OpenCourseWare, Massive Open Online Courses, Gaming, etc.)
  • The concept of space (virtual or physical) is the entry point for instructional change… AS LONG AS THE TEACHERS ARE EMBRACING LEARNING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW!
  • Support and PD for teachers is ESSENTIAL… empower, articulate the why and how focused on improving learning, build capacity, use data and share it transparently… and, acknowledge the potential roadblocks.
  • Digital leaders model the vision… once you use the technology you can become an advocate for it.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication… connected to Branding, Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations (he hits Branding/PR and Strategic Partnership building very well and often!)
  • The “Pillars of Digital Leadership”: Communication; PR; Branding; Professional growth and development; Student Engagement/Learning; Opportunity; and, Learning Environment and Spaces are all aligned to the ISTE NETS-A AND the Breaking Ranks Framework.

Here’s a couple more of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Technology can engage, connect, empower, and enhance teaching, how educators learn, the work done by schools, and stakeholder relations”  p.45

…”Leaders become the epicenter of their learning and determine what, where,  and  when they want to learn… Connectedness and control of learning provides leaders with the ability to determine their own path and to differentiate to meet their diverse learning needs”. p.122

Here’s some of the many references he makes:

What I didn’t like so much: Not really addressing the issue of the growing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Basically, Sheninger said to not let that be an excuse to not take the steps to transform. I would agree with that but I would also like to see creative suggestions on how to deal with making the divide less pronounced. That said, within each school’s individual context there are ways to balance resources in a fair (but not equal) way that must be done with sensitivity and confidentiality. Sheninger gave the example of a laptop cart with less than a full class set of laptops that is used to supplement for those who don’t have a laptop.

Basically, there’s  a lot to like, a lot to reflect on and a lot to walk away with and immediately put to use.

Common sense… email etiquette and netiquette (or is it?)

Reply screen shotI really think it’s common sense that email responses should  be given in a timely (24-48 hours) fashion. Am I nuts!? Sometimes, I feel I am when I never get a reply to an email I have sent – especially one with a request or question in it.

So… I turned to the internet! What does ‘prevailing wisdom’ (whatever that is!) say about the proper netiquette on email replies? (By the way, the links below also have other great netiquette tips!)

Even Microsoft has something to say on this! There are wikis about email etiquette, news articles (the Globe and Mail, the New York Times) , business articles (Inc., Business Insider) , etc... Guess what? The prevailing wisdom is that emails should be responded to in anywhere from 24-48 hours! Definitely!

If you are so busy that you cannot respond at all (you’re there but not “away” to require an away message be in place), you are in fact deciding to ignore the Sender — even if for the time being — and that’s exactly what they will assume. You’ve made a decision that their e-mail is not important to you or you would have responded.

There really is no gray area here. Perception is alive and well in regard to how quickly you respond to those who take the time to e-mail you.

~ Net Manners

Other Quotes:

  • Reply promptly. If you need to do some research or some thinking before you respond to an email, or if you’re too busy to write a full response promptly, send a short response letting the sender know that you got the email and advising when you will respond.” ~ wikiHow
  • “The roaring silence. The pause that does not refresh. The world is full of examples of how the anonymity and remove of the Internet cause us to write and post things that we later regret. But what of the way that anonymity and remove sometimes leave us dangling like a cartoon character that has run off a cliff?” ~ NY Times
  • “Respond in a timely fashion. Unless you work in some type of emergency capacity, it’s not necessary to be available the instant an e-mail arrives. Depending on the nature of the e-mail and the sender, responding within 24 to 48 hours is acceptable. —Duncan” ~ Inc.
  • “Reply to your emails — even if the email wasn’t intended for you. It’s difficult to reply to every email message ever sent to you, but you should try to, says Pachter. This includes when the email was accidentally sent to you, especially if the sender is expecting a reply.” ~ Business Insider
  • “Just because someone doesn’t ask for a response doesn’t mean you ignore them. Always acknowledge emails from those you know in a timely manner.” ~ Email Etiquette
  • Answer swiftly. Customers send an e-mail because they wish to receive a quick response. If they did not want a quick response they would send a letter or a fax. Therefore, each e-mail should be replied to within at least 24 hours, and preferably within the same working day. If the email is complicated, just send an email back saying that you have received it and that you will get back to them. This will put the customer’s mind at rest and usually customers will then be very patient!” ~ 32 most important email etiquette tips

So… Go ahead, make my day! Email me!

The Art of Listening… to teachers

We learn to listen to teachers from a very young age. Perhaps, once we ‘leave’ school we decide we don’t have to listen to teachers anymore. Yet, there’s no doubt that we all learn from truly listening to others. Most teachers will even talk about how much they learn from students. Listening is truly an art and it helps us learn. So… doesn’t it make sense that we listen to teachers when it comes to learning what makes sense in the classroom and educational technology best practices?

Who knows better than those who are actually ‘on the ground’, every day, in the classroom?

Bill Gates (and the Gates Foundation) has finally figured that out!

You may love Bill Gates… you may hate him. I don’t always agree with where the Gates Foundation puts its money but I have never doubted the Gates’ philanthropy and I believe Bill Gates’ heart is in the right place.

In a recent article in the Education Week blog on Digital Education, Gates discusses how he hopes Graphite (from Common Sense Media… check these out if you’ve never seen them before!) will help teachers voices be heard by software developers and other educators.

It’s truly encouraging to hear/read Bill Gates talk about how “teachers are the lifeblood of the education system” and’ that “something magical” happens with effective face-to-face classroom teaching’. He and his foundation have come under some criticism (right or wrong) for focusing on using strict teacher evaluations to improve teaching. However, Gates deserves credit for acknowledging how essential teachers are and how they must be supported so they can continue to have a positive impact on learning.

Perhaps, legislators who like to micro-manage the world of education could take a lesson from Gates and practice the Art of Listening to Teachers!

Think life is difficult, for you? Check this out!

By Christliches Medienmagazin pro (Flickr: Nick Vujicic) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We all face challenges. How do we deal with them? Certainly, many challenges can not be compared… but, I know as a parent, I have employed the following strategy: “You think getting that homework done is hard!? How about those poor kids across the road that have no electricity and hardly any materials except for a pencil and paper…”. It’s probably natural to compare the challenges we face with those faced by others (though, we still tend to think that MY challenge is the greater one).

Anyway, I’m a generally positive person and I try to look at the ‘positive side’ of any situation… usually that works well for me but I sometimes set myself up for disappointment when I have an unrealistically positive view.

Here’s a guy that inspires me because he hasn’t let his challenge ‘stop’ him: Nick Vujicic (see video links, below).

Good leadership… does it boil down to 5 traits?

Thank you, Bill Oldread (Assistant Director-EARCOS)! Bill maintains the EARCOS E-Connect Blog and recently highlighted a Marshall Memo review of a Robert Weintraub article on leadership.

Convoluted connections? Sure, but that’s how the good word gets out… that’s Bloggin’!

What can we learn from Weintraub’s extensive leadership experience?

  1. Promote common goals and ‘voice’ for adults involved in supporting kids – gives the kids a clear message with clear expectations. Consistent communicator/Active.
  2. Get in the habit of setting aside a daily time to respond to email and phone calls – prompt responses, even if it’s just to say you will get back to someone, indicate their messages (and they) are important. Caring.
  3. The old leadership adage… LBWA (Leading By Walking Around) – visibility and interaction are important to show that you care more about the school community than your office. Caring/Connected.
  4. Get back into the classroom AS A TEACHER – what better way to keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s going on with teachers and students? Connected.
  5. “Be happy” – your mood affects others… how would you like others to feel? Caring.
  6. Youth are energetic… mirror that energy – you fit in better and help others stay energized. Connected/Active.
  7. Notice the kids – if students feel they’re anonymous to you guess how you will be to them? Caring/Connected.
  8. Give your full attention when interacting with others – if you let interruptions distract you, how valued does the one asking for your attention feel? Caring.
  9. Leadership requires unambiguous communication – we all want to know ‘what’ and ‘why’. Consistent communicator.
  10. Be a model of what you expect re: work – everyone respects hard workers! Active.
  11. (To borrow a phrase from Jim Collins) Get the right people on the bus – in a school, everyone should love kids and support learning. Consistent communicator/Active.
  12. Support intellectual pursuit – inspire others think, reflect, ponder. Consistent communicator/Reflective.
  13. Take risks… when you need to – guide change carefully and thoughtfully. Active/Reflective.
  14. No one is perfect – remember that about yourself and others. Caring/Reflective.
  15. We’re all part of the same family – nurture others beyond ‘the job’. Caring/Connected.

Ok! So… I put my own spin on these ‘lessons on leadership’. For me, those points boil down to the qualities of a good leader. I know I didn’t hit all the traits of a good leader but if we regularly ask ourselves if we are being: consistent communicators; active; caring; connected; and, reflective (and we strive to be those 5 things) we’re well on our way to good leadership.

What other qualities do you feel are important for good leaders to have?