Even as we share successes and set goals as the school year begins, this is also a time of the year where we can begin to realize – students and adults alike – that we have the need for a difficult conversation or two. This may be needed between two students who are experiencing a relationship challenge, as long-standing friends or as new acquaintances. This may be needed between a family and a teacher in order to clarify a situation, a teaching approach, or a miscommunication. This may be needed between two staff members who are experiencing challenges in their working relationship. In every case, in such a small community, it may be tempting to avoid “the conversation” and focus on “the positive.” However, we are committed to developing our girls into “courageous leaders,” and they are watching how we adults interact with each other as well as how we expect them to interact with their peers. Also this past week, our Dean of Faculty attended an excellent workshop entitled, Critical Conversation Lab. As we debriefed the workshop together, we realized that we adults could take on the challenge and opportunity to model for ours students the difference between congeniality and true collegiality. This lesson could serve them well for the rest of their lives.
So how do we make certain that we engage in conversation rather than arguments rooted in “making your point because you are right?” According to the attached article, these always fail, at all levels: between spouses or partners, teacher and student, administrator and teacher, boss and employee, nation and nation. These arguments are only seldom about “truth” and “facts”; they are almost always about feelings and identity.
If we accept this premise, then it becomes essential that we do some homework as a community so that we can become better “conversationalists.” A sincere “thank you” to the many who have already engaged with me in such chats!