Be aware of body language and tone (yours and other peoples)
Listen first, listen well and listen between the lines
Consider using the mirror technique and reflect back to the parent what you have heard
Ask sincere questions, seek to understand fully
Be open minded
Express empathy and understanding
Be tactful and gentle
Remain calm and confident
See the big picture
Present options and avoid backing anyone into a corner
Remember “charm and disarm”, not “shock and awe”
Monitor your own emotions – if you start to feel angry (or any other powerful emotion) try to connect to its source (i.e. anger usually comes from feeling hurt) and work to remember not to take anything personally. If nothing else work to bite your tongue and not act on emotions.
Give respect and insist on it in return (Try the customer service hotline technique, “I’m sorry but I cannot continue this conversation if you are going to curse (or shout, or make unfounded accusations, etc.)
Ask “What can I do to improve this situation?”
Say “You need to do what you think is right.” when the parent insists on going to an administrator etc.
Turn the question around, “What would you do to make this situation fair to everyone if you were in my shoes?”
Listen attentively without interrupting or arguing
Make silence your friend
Make your point without demanding the last word
Repeat the rule that you are following – broken record technique
Remember Kenny Rogers – “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
As a good scout always “be prepared” (do your homework)
Re-state limits – i.e. “I only have ten minutes for this phone call, but I am willing to set up a follow-up call tomorrow or meet with you next week.”
Listen for the “question behind the question” and say, “I think you may be asking about ____ .”
If you know the type of behaviors you will be facing in a meeting or phone call prepare a strategy with colleagues, role-play possible situations and create and carry a “tip sheet” to remind you how to approach the situation
The no show – this child’s parents think he or she has better things to do than school. Things like sleeping in, going shopping, going on a trip and sometimes even actually important things like the dentist, orthodontist or allergy shots. The parent insists you make allowances because it is no the child’s decision, even if the child is in high school.
Example: “It is hard for Melissa to wake up in the morning, I don’t see why you have to be so hard on her for being 30 or 45 minutes late.”
Example: “We are going on vacation in two weeks. It is cheaper to fly in March, you know. I need you top make a packet of Jim’s work for him so he won’t get behind.”
Today you taught a lesson on germs and proper hygiene. It was a great dynamic lesson and as a follow up you assigned the students to read a social skills story about a child who has poor hygiene but changes his ways. At 3 pm the phone rings. It is Allison’s mother, you have had a good relationship with her in the past and are surprised to hear from her. She tells you in no uncertain terms that the follow up reading was disgusting and she will not have her daughter reading anything so nasty. What do you do?
Today was the class trip to a local museum. It was a good trip and you are tired, but happy at the end of the day. The phone rings and it is Ryan’s mother. She is irate and you can barely understand her. Finally you realize that she is angry that you made Ryan go to the end of the line in the museum gift shop. She doesn’t seem to know that you had Ryan do this because he cut everyone else in line and shoved another child out of the way. What do you do?
At eleven at night you finish grading all of the end of term reports your students turned in earlier in the week. You scan through your grade book and see that Bill has not turned in the report – again. The next day you pull Bill aside and remind him of your late policy (ten points off for each day late). Bill just nods and walks off. The next morning his mother is in your room waiting for you. She insists Bill finished the project and put it on your desk the day it was due; you must have lost it. What do you do?