My current principal transferred to my campus under less-than-ideal circumstances. She was assigned to our campus after a well-liked and respected principal was released and her successor resigned after a just a few weeks on our site. Over the past few years, our relationship has been challenging. Often our interactions have resulted in win-lose and lose-lose outcomes. As the subordinate in this situation, I typically lose.
However, after more than twelve hours of whole-staff restorative practices work and a decrease in my extracurricular responsibilities on campus, our relationship has begun to move to win-win. During the past two months, I have begun to focus on how I can work with her, instead of going rogue or working against her. This has rapidly increased within the past two weeks as we (along with many other staff members) have worked together to help our students respond to an incident that has left us stressed and short-staffed. The principal and I are communicating more and trying to be helpful and supportive of each other in order to support our students. Simply working together to achieve a common goal is helping both of us to implement Covey’s Habit #4: Think Win/Win.
Teaching the Habit
To teach Habit #4 to Damon, I again scheduled a dinnertime lesson (more sushi!). As I explained the concept of habits and withdraws and winning and losing combinations, he attentively listened but struggled to think of how they relate to his life. I intentionally chose to keep his teenage power struggles with me out of the discussion and instead asked about any potential conflicts he was experiencing at work and in his college classes.
Damon explained that he has been struggling to refrain from calling out when his geography professor says invalid facts or inaccurately explains concepts. He said that this has led to public clashes of egos. As I tried to help him see this in the context of this week’s habit, he initially struggled to come up with ways to express his concerns without establishing a winner and a loser. During the conversation, I also discovered that he genuinely did not know how to appropriately address his concerns to his professor. After explanation and further discussion, he agreed that politely emailing the professor after class to ask for clarification would help both of them to increase their understanding of the conflict without becoming distracted by a public power struggle. I hope that even if he does not actually email his professor in this situation, he will least chose to avoid competitive conversations with authority figures--especially the ones who grade his work!