When the Answer is Silence, Look Within.

Anya recently told me a story about work.  Her boss, at the start of the school year, had committed to a co-teaching approach for one of the senior level Social Studies classes.  Last week, she sprung it on the two teachers (Anya being one of them) that she was removing one teacher from the classroom in order to use them somewhere else.  Anya expressed disagreement with the plan.  The boss cut her off  and accused her of not being a team player, not having the students’ needs ahead of her own and using a “tone.”  When I asked her how she replied to this outburst, Anya said, “I didn’t.  What’s the point?”

I asked Anya to tell me word for word how the conversation went down.  I know Anya fairly well and had never witnessed her taking a “tone” with anyone even in disagreeable situations.  The more Anya recounted the experience, the more clear it became.  The principal by cutting her off and accusing her had effectively ended the conversation which is exactly what she wanted.  She wanted to shut Anya up and put her in her place.

The problem with using this manipulative tactic is that the island you are on becomes smaller and smaller.  True, fewer and fewer of your staff will disagree with you, but, that only creates an organization that is stagnate and inflexible.  If you are not open to the ideas and opinions of your staff, even when some of those opinions may be critical, your organization will never grow.  So now, the principal has not only effectively shut down a differing opinion; but, she has also damaged a relationship, discouraged future discussion and created a situation where the two teachers feel unsupported and undervalued.

Do you do this?  Are you listening and responding without defensiveness?

I can assure you of one thing.  If you tell your staff something and there is only silence in reply, you need to take a good look at yourself and the way you communicate.