The most influential people are those that are able to accomplish things and build relationships simultaneously, this is possible through mastering their crucial conversations (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzer, 2012). This bold statement, forced me to reflect on past and present bosses, leaders, and principals. The more I reflected on this idea, the more I agreed. Some of the most incredible leaders I have come into contact with could create a safe environment to have a candid conversation, no matter the difficulty, without attacking or avoiding.
While reading and working through Crucial Conversations, it was evident that I struggle resorting to silence instead of facing a difficult decision head on. I have used all aspects of silence in order to avoid difficult situations. I have used sarcasm and sugarcoating to mask the importance of situation, avoiding real issues, and withdrawing from of a conversation completely. In recognizing these patterns all aspects of the book were beneficial but I realized that to effectively create change I need to devote the most energy on my strengths and weaknesses. I have realized that to be most effective I need to focus my attention on improving safe spaces, mastering my stories, and using the empowering tool of starting with the heart. To have a healthy conversation in an intense moment, the key is to step out of the content of the conversation, make it safe, then step back in (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzer, 2012). In the past, I thought that it was best to step away from situation when someone is aggressive or defensive, then continue to stay away. What I have realized is, yes I do need to give space to the issue, but I have missed the importance of creating safety to step back to resolve the problem. When working on implementing my innovation plan, I anticipate some difficult discussions. When I am exposed to this type of altercation it will be necessary to not focus on who is wrong or right, but find a mutual purpose. When we are able to see that we are working with the same goal in mind, we will be able to refocus towards the right direction.
The best communicators are able to act on their emotions, they don’t hide them or suppress them (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzer, 2012). This concept going forward will be the most challenging for me to change because it requires a deeper understanding of where the emotions are brewing from. To successfully accomplish this it will require analyzing where the emotions started. It is true, that someone can’t make you feel something, and you choose those feelings because of past situations. When we take the time to discover what is behind the emotions we can retrace our path towards resolution. To retrace the path, we must notice the behavior, understand the emotions that are encouraging the behavior, analyze what is creating these feelings, and focus on the facts.
I believe it will be important for me to incorporate all aspects of Crucial Conversations when implementing my innovation plan. However, the concept that will be most influential in piloting blended learning is starting with the heart. Skilled people are able to have challenging conversations but still remain focused on the heart (Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, & Switzer, 2012). When appealing to my team about making changes, I want to do this through their heart. I began teaching because I am passionate about helping others through educating students. To convince teachers the importance of making changes to improve student learning, I want to have discussions with them about their “why” of teaching. Over the years we get bogged down with documentation, lesson plans, district initiatives, emails; the whirlwind. I want my team to get back to the roots of teaching, the heart. My strategy is to guide my team to understand that through my blended learning initiative we will be able use technology to empower students in a way that never seemed possible. To implement these changes I have built a why statement, developed plans to positively influence educators and steps to execute these plans. I believe in creating this foundation we will be able to truly make a difference in students lives.
Grenny, J., Patterson, K., Maxfield, D., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2013). Influencer: The new science of leading change: 2nd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: Achieving your wildly important goals. New York, NY: Free Press. Patterson, K., Grenny, J., McMillan, R., & Switzler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: Tools for talking when stakes are high. Columbus, OH: McGraw Hill.