Have you ever considered how your feelings and especially, your willingness to express your feelings, deepens your relationship with other people?
Once, long ago, a mentor suggested that I base any decision to confront another person on my interest in becoming closer to them.
"Confrontation," she told me, "is about closing distance, not creating it."
I thought this was pretty revolutionary at the time.
Here's what I've noticed, though: When we confront people by sharing cold facts without describing our emotions, they often feel judged. Taking the time to explain our feelings adds crucial context that lets people know we care about them enough to be a bit vulnerable with them. It invites them to connect with us, too. Even when people don't agree with what we're saying, they will often empathize with why we're saying it.
This changes everything.
Ellen and I designed the Lending an E.A.R. protocol for those who are eager to begin helping young people start hard but important conversations. Perhaps some of the adults in your life will appreciate it, too.
How might you share it inside of your classroom? When does it make sense to introduce students to this protocol? How might you coach them to use it well? What would that look like? How would it feel?
So often, our students fail to show us who they really are and reveal what they really think because we've socialized them to be obedient. They don't know how to confront others in ways that are kind and respectful. This is important work, and the teachers who prioritize it are some of society's greatest champions right about now.
This tool and a few others can be found in Hack 8 of Hacking School Culture: Designing Compassionate Classrooms. Are you subscribed to our blog? If so, you'll receive a complete set of discussion questions for this chapter inside of our next Sunday Shout Out. And if you'd like to catch up on the rest of our book club posts, you'll find them right here.