School Authority – Part 2

In Part 1, we introduced the topic of communicating with school administrators.

Steps necessary to communicate with school administrators.

  1. When you first enter into a conversation with an administrator, use Mr/Mrs/Dr.. Whatever their name is.  Always use the professional title associated with the individual.  Why?  It indicates hostility.
  2. For the first few minutes always use the full professional title.  After about five to 7 minutes, start interjecting their first name occasionally.   Why?  This indicates a willingness to be open to communication and that you don’t want to be adversarial more than necessary.
  3. By the end of the conversation, no matter how the conversation is going, use the first name of the administrator.  Use only the first name.  Why?  This indicates that you consider the administrator to be an ally.  Use this method no matter the direction or feel of the conversation.
  4. If you are communicating via telephone, make sure that the administrator has your name and telephone number.  Also let them know that in the event that you get disconnected, you will be calling back to continue the conversation.
  5. If you are in their office, make sure that you shake hands when you open the conversation, and shake hands when you close the conversation.  Do not get into power grip situations to show how strong you are.  Be firm, yet gentle.
  6. Do not raise your voice at any point during the conversation.  This does nothing more than get everyone excited and on edge.  During the initial discussions with an administrator, your goal is to be friendly yet adversarial. Yes it is possible to do both at the same time.  It is all in how you communicate.  Even if you aren’t speaking you are still communicating.
  7. If you want to appear adversarial, bring a notepad with you, and make notes or doodle while you are talking to the administrator.  If you are doodling, make certain to not let the administrator see the notepad.  You don’t want them to know that you are doing that.  Without a notepad, cross your arms across your chest whenever you use the professional title of the administrator. Why?  Position of arms indicates confrontation or lack of empathy.
  8. When using the first name of the administrator, put the pen or pencil down, and place your hands in your lap.  Don’t fidget, and always maintain eye contact with the administrator.
  9. If possible, try to sit on the same side of the table as the administrator.  If you have the table between you, it makes it seem like you have a chasm to bridge before you can work on the issues at hand.
  10. Schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the situation further.  Do not expect a resolution on your first, second or sometimes third visit to the school.

Seems like a lot to take in doesn’t it?  Not really.  If you work you likely do one or more of these things without thinking about it.  The key is to change your way of thinking and apply this to interpersonal communication with people you don’t work for or with.

In part 3, a discussion of conversation openers, closers and what to expect when the work starts.