What Conversation Are You Putting Off?

 Be that #Oneperson


As many of you have noticed, I enjoy blogging about the importance of school culture. Most posts are focusing on the fun side of building culture, which is very important in developing trust. I find that many school administers are fairly proficient at this because it brings joy and smiles to the faces of their team.

There is another side of school leadership, which many administrators tend to avoid, the Fierce Conversation.   Early in my career, I found myself in this position because, quite frankly, I was scared to have these kinds of discussions. I feared these tough conversations because I wanted to “be liked” Little did I know I was damaging my school culture by not confronting toxic situations or toxic people.

Gradually, I gained more confidence and courage to have these discussions when needed. However, during these discussions I often felt the “flow” of the conversations were disjointed and were sometimes ineffective. Upon further reflection, I realized a need to improve in two specific areas during these difficult conversations.

Problem Area 1 – Inconsistent Preparation

I did not prepare for my conversations at the level I needed to. The lack of preparation typical showed up when I missed significant details, which should have been included in the discussion. Luckily, I found a tool that has made all the difference for me. It is called the,“60 second opener,” created by Susan Scott. I have used this protocol a number of times and the process is magical. If you try the protocol, make sure to follow the steps exactly as they are written. The opener is magical and is the cure for inconsistent preparation. I also role-play my conversations with my colleagues. This allows me to practice and provides me with an opportunity to make adjustments if needed.

Get the 60-second opener here: http://bit.ly/1tzJYek

Problem Area 2 – Too Many Pillows

This is an area, which can cause a leader issues. Strong leaders begin a meeting with good intentions. They desire to confront a problem area or correct a behavior; however, the conversation becomes problematic when the administrator tries to soften the conversation. This softening of the intended conversation is called “pillowing.” This happens when the administrator becomes distracted, tries to cushion the inappropriate behavior, and allows the participant to deflect the conversation or make excuses. Please control the conversation and end with phrases like:

  1. “Do you have any questions about my expectations?”
  2. “Your behavior was unacceptable and I expect it to change.”

Culture is a constant balance between accountability and culture. Administrators cannot shy away from challenging situations. Your solid employees are counting on you to tackle toxicity within your school culture.

Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time. While no single conversation is guaranteed to transform a company, a relationship, or a life, any single conversation can. – Susan Scott


As always, I leave you with an exercise you can do with your school staff to help remind educators why we are in the business of making the world a better place.

#Oneperson Action Item:

Theme Emails

  1. Turns mundane and routine emails into appointment viewing
  2. Pick any theme you want…. It may depend on the age of your staff !

Few Sample Emails…

Hey You Guys,

A reminder that Sloth loves Chunk, and Sloth also loves when you submit your semester grades in on time! Remember grades are due Friday, January 11th by 3:45.




Please remember to take attendance each period within 5 minutes of class starting, so our attendance office can save Ferris if he is absent.




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