Category: Communication

Be Prepared

Quotes by Brenda Yoho

Keeping words of wisdom in your toolbox will help you when you are put on the spot to answer questions, send a response, or make a statement. It has always been my philosophy to be proactive and not reactive in any situation you face.

We never want to think of a time of tragedy, emergency, or traumatic event, but we must be prepared. The people we serve count on us to be ready and not respond to the emotions that take over in these catastrophic, life-changing events. This is when they need an authentic leader to guide, support, and provide at times of great need.

In my training with new school leaders, I have guided in preparing a resource toolbox of readiness for events we do not want to prepare to face. A few examples are:

  • Statement to staff and students (Student death)
  • Statement to the public (Student death)
  • Letter to parents of the deceased student.
  • Announcement of special recognition to remember the deceased student
  • Statement to staff and students (Staff members death)
  • Statement to the public (Staff members death)
  • Letter to the community (Staff members death)

Preparing for Media

Having a media plan is an essential part of your toolbox. Having your leadership team understand how to respond when a crisis or traumatic event occurs helps to reduce the misinformation and confusion if we maintain a strict communication line. When people go off script and begin to put in information, this leads to people inserting statements unrelated to this event.

  • Designate a spokesperson (For consistency)
  • Maintain an updated folder of talking points for each crisis event until all facts can be gathered for a detailed statement or report.
  • Personal and authentic communication is critical in helping everyone deal with the trauma of each crisis we face. Get in front of the cameras and speak directly to those served. They need your calm voice and approach.
  • Prepare yourself to expect the unexpected. Have a key person or object to look at. Have a folder with important messages you can share: Calm, Care, Consistency, Concern, and Correct information. C’s the moment before it overtakes you.

As a leader, I have had to, unfortunately, deal with more crises, death, and traumatic events than I wish to report. I am thankful for leaders who supported me during some of the most challenging times. We are emotionally connected to those we serve, work alongside, and the communities we live in and love. Gathering your strength and courage to speak to calm others is difficult when you want to bury your head to grieve. Finding your words can be difficult, so preparing them in advance is helpful. If you are reading this and think this would never happen to me, I hope it does not. However, prepare just in case. If it never happens, it was time spent preparing as a reflection of how important each individual is in the world we live in. Every life we serve is essential!

Get to the Point

“Effective communication hinges on one job and one job only: moving your point from your head to your audiences,” says Joel Schwartzberg, author of Get to the Point: Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter.

Communication is an essential tool in your toolbox. If you struggle to communicate your point clearly to your audience in a timely fashion, readers have moved on in the world of scrolling. Get to the point, your punch line or your hook for your readers in your first few words. If you do not capture the reader’s attention or interest, the point you want to make is lost on the pages it fills.

Do you have a point? What is the point you want to make? When you have established the point, know it! You must know your point to understand what you are talking about; if you don’t, how will those you are communicating with know.

Do you have a point to make a point? Make sure you have supporting facts and compelling evidence or research. You have to have a point to sell your point to others. You need a point to stay on point. So what’s the point I am making? Listen to author Joel Schwartzberg.

Point it out

  • A point is unique
  • A point is sold
  • A point is clear about its value and purpose

My point

My book Two Rules will help everyone feel good and feel safe at school.

Sold

  • As a retired educator, I have successfully utilized Two Rules for over two decades in rural and large unit districts. You can use it with success as well.

Purpose

  • The need for safety for all involved in our educational settings, including students, staff, families, and community, is essential, as well as feeling good. Now is the time to implement this practice.

Communication

When you have a point to make, know how to deliver it successfully. Understand your point, stay on point, be consistent and clear, sell it and provide the purpose with value. Deliver your point.

Be the solution daily in a world ready for the points you are prepared to share.

Fill up your cup with Authority

One of the best ways to help yourself and others is to enrich your use of vocabulary intentionally daily. I have always practiced adding a word to our vocabulary in the classroom and with my grandchildren now. Words do not have to be extravagant or flamboyant to be selected to add to your list. You may already know the word, but do you do all of the power it holds in the way it can be used?

Words have power! One of the most important lessons we can provide is learning how much power we hold and how we utilize the words we choose to group. Great men and women have delivered messages of great power. Some of these individuals are not described as being strong by their physical appearance, but their words have stood over time as a solid foundation to build a great nation and inspired leaders for generations.

Authority is a word with many definitions and uses; here are a few:

  • It is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
  • It is the right to act in a specified way, delegated from one person or organization to another.
  • It is the power to influence others, primarily because of one’s commanding manner or recognized knowledge about something.

Who is the authority figure in your life? Are you an authority figure?

I honor Authority?

What is the purpose of authority?

In the examples of the definitions of authority, power, decisions, influence, and knowledge are acknowledged. One of the most important aspects of authority is to protect our rights to life, liberty, and property. Authority can be used to provide order and security in people’s lives. Has having authority in your community and life helped you? How does authority help you and others? How do you honor authority? What are ways you can succeed with those in authority?

As we add value to our power by enriching the usage of the words we choose to group as a message, take the time to be reflective in journal devotion time.

Reflective Journal Devotion Time

Today the value of authority is the power of the language usage we seek to grow to protect life, liberty, property, and honor. What are words to help embrace the wisdom of authority? What is the message needed to honor authority? How can a message be provided to understand the boundaries of authority, the responsibility of authority, and the influence authority has on making changes? Please help us to see the vision of the importance of authority to paint the words on the pages for others to see the best reflection of the greatness it has when it is written.

My example: Today, as you began to prepare yourself for the day, you already introduced yourself to our new word. You greeted the day with authority. You were awakened by the alarm clock or an authority figure in your home telling you it was time to get up to start the day. Then you took over by taking charge of preparing yourself for the day. As the day continues, the authority will meet you along the way at different times, places and stops. See how many times you can discover authority.

You can pose a reflective question each day and spend a week on the same word. At the end of the week, each individual could share a short one-minute speech on the word authority. Learning better communication skills and exploring thoughts to think about is an important enrichment activity for all.

What do you think?

Do you ever have someone ask you so what do you think? Everyone is looking 👀 at you; the pressure is on, you are the new person in the group, you look around, and you say……

  • I think…
  • If you ask me….
  • I believe….
  • It is my understanding….
  • As I understand it…..
  • I heard you say….
  • The point made by….
  • Several people have made different points…..

There are many ways to respond to someone asking you what you think. In asking you this question, they want your opinion. If you do not feel safe or comfortable in the group, often people respond with a no answer. Then the group is still left with not knowing your opinion and will move on if you have crafted your response well. An example might be: “I have enjoyed this conversation with all of the thoughts being shared; I wanted to hear more about your thoughts on this topic before sharing.”

If the topic is something you are passionate about why not share your thoughts if you are confident. If some disagree, are you able to debate professionally? It isn’t easy when you are brand new to the job, but always remember who you are and your purpose (why). People like to know what you stand for or if you stand with who every you are with at the moment.

I like to ask more questions! The more you ask, the more everyone can learn from the shared information. However, there are times when the issues touch your core values, beliefs, and passion. It is always important to share your thoughts respectfully or remove yourself from the conversation. We will talk more about conversations, sharing ideas, and the importance of thinking before clicking on social media. I find myself stepping away at times and other times standing up. Give it some thought and share some ideas in this space if you like.

Hook, line and sinker

Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1

The coach spots a little boy in the stands with a glove waiting to catch a baseball. The coach decides he will toss a ball to the little boy. Then suddenly, a man swoops in and catches the ball. Cameras snap the picture; video cameras record the moment, and the story goes viral.

Everyone could not believe what this man did to get this ball. He took a baseball meant for a little ball for himself. The pictures and video were shared with comments about this man. How could he take this ball away from this little boy?

As these video clips were shared, no one ever thought to ensure all the information was factual. Everyone could see he jumped in front of the boy and caught the ball. Case closed!

Except viewers watching the clip and the live scene didn’t know the whole story. Earlier in the game, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball. They agreed to share any additional balls that would come their way. Unfortunately for the man, it took twenty-four hours before the actual story emerged. The media mob and citizens had already done their damage, demonizing an innocent man.

The world we live in today deals with fragments of information and twists it to meet the narrative they try to push. Facts seem to be few and far between as you try to listen to any media source. The baseball story is factual from 2018 a Chicago Cubs game. This is one example of thousands; I am sure of people who have been judged with fragments of information.

Hook, line, and sinker, we take fragments of information as the whole truth. The evidence is clear before us daily. We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations and going along with the beliefs. We need complete facts making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “following the crowd in doing wrong” In this “gotcha” “cancel culture” time, we see more and more divisions than unity.

Please take the time to look at the bait on the “hook.” Is it fragments or complete? Use the “line” to trace the sources of the story and research the evidence. Is this a “sinker” to bring down someone or everyone? Don’t just swallow it hook, line and sinker! We have ways to help us rise above together, to overcome any hardships, and to float to the top! Be the solution daily in an ocean full of sinkers! Rise up!

Input vs. Output

I have questions about the title of this post. Do you have more input or output in your day? In other words, are you receiving (input) information more than you are producing (output)? What are the sources of the information you receive?

Accountability has leaders focused on the source of output and making sure there is a high volume daily. Depending on the field of work, I question the quality of the volume of output measured by the input. Should leaders focus more on the input their staff is receiving?

I spend 60% of my day reading. What are the sources of this reading? I select books based on recommendations from other leaders, also from the organization I work with to help authors with book launches, blogs, podcasts, webinars, articles from professional organizations I belong to, emails, and my daily devotionals/bible. This input is valuable to me, but most importantly, it influences my thoughts.

I wrote a book about school improvement; it’s not good enough. My opinion! I took time to learn more about how to have a quality book, what the steps are, what do you need to do, know, and so many other things. I was gaining lots of input! During this seeking input time, I had opportunities to meet, listen to and gain wisdom. It is a blessing to have taken the time to do this and to write a new book.

Time is a non-renewable gift! I always say, “Unwrap today as a gift. It can not be returned, exchanged, or saved. Use the hours wisely.” The time I have spent on writing has provided me with healing, sharing, ways to serve a purpose, and opportunities to provide support to others.

Take aways

  • The quality of the work we do depends on the inputs of information we allow to influence us.
  • Output accountability should be measured on quality and not quantity.
  • Leaders can support individuals by providing quality resources for input.
  • Time is non-renewable!

Review your calendar, agenda, or schedule. How much time is allowed for input? As a leader, what are you providing to staff to enhance the quality of the input others are receiving? Remember, time is non-renewable! Make all communications quality and not just quantity!

Be the solution daily! Others count on the quality of your output to influence the input they receive!

Pop’in back, Getting to know you!

Relationship building is a priority for every organization during this time. Our world has experienced a great deal of stress, and we continue to have changes made to our daily lives. Bringing fun into the work environment and getting to know those we share time with are helpful in many ways.

Building relationships build trust, loyalty, and dedication. The stronger our relationships become, the more the work becomes not a what we do but a why we do! Bring fun, trust, validation, and dedication to each other. We need all of this!

I have a couple of games I have used to help with getting to know others. Both are fun ways to bring people back together after a long break like summer, spring, Christmas, or even short holidays and during a conference. These are also fun to do in social settings, in classrooms, or where you need to break the ice to start conversations.

I have provided some brief explanations and listed the materials you need to play the games. The questions to ask yourself are:

  • How many people will be in this group?
  • Which game fits this group setting?
  • How much time do I have with this group?
  • Is this something we can continue over several days?

Once you have answered these questions, you can determine how to set up the game and needed materials. Individuals will write and label their answers on three small pieces of paper. Then insert them into the balloon and blow the balloon up slightly. They place the balloon in the designated spot and when all are completed the game begins. (When I have done the Pop’in back game with balloons, I use a giant garbage bag to put balloons in, or you can utilize a designated area.) Then I can get one out to pop.

*If you are at a conference, make sure to announce only to do a balloon if they will be staying for all of the sessions. You don’t want to pop a balloon and never find out who dated Blake Shelton or is a secret millionaire.

Guidance for games

Questions to use for statements

  • What state are we in?
  • What company or school district do you work for?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • Do you have grandchildren?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • Do you have siblings?
  • What is your favorite season?
  • Have you been to Disney World?
  • Which would you rather have ice cream or cake?
  • Have traveled by plane?
  • Have traveled by train?
  • Have more than five friends?
  • Many questions can be asked but be aware of what you ask and how you ask? What is the purpose? This is to be uplifting, chances to connect and laugh. Stay away from topics that could cause trauma indirectly.

Please share if you have additional ideas or suggestions. Let us know if you try it out and how it went. I have done this activity with a large group (entire school district opening meeting, my hometown rural school). So much fun with everyone engaged, even those who never want to participate.

Tuesday Talks and Topics

Topic today: Trauma

As you work with others, it is always helpful to have an organized approach for positive results. While being a leader in a school, I knew every minute was valuable. Having a focused plan, a weekly or daily announcement to staff needed to be structured to support our goals and having conversations they needed/wanted to hear. How do you do that?

Be alert and aware of what is needed to be placed in written form and what is required to be verbalized. Staff does not need to come to a meeting to have you read from a paper; they can do this themselves. You have things you need to say, and they need to hear you say, especially as we return face to face.

No matter what level you are, working with others or being part of a group, it is essential to understand how to support, deal with and monitor the signs of trauma. Trauma, we can clearly state, is something every child and adult has experienced at some level due to Covid-19.

Trauma

  • We are living lives impacted by trauma that others could not have predicted.
  • Some are living in situations where family members are part of the circumstances of the trauma.
  • Some have lost a loved one (grandparent, parent, sibling, child).
  • We are living in uncertain and constantly changing circumstances.
  • Some are living in areas of daily violence and fear.
  • There are many more things we can list to add for traumatic events contributing to trauma in the lives of those around us.

What can we do in regards to trauma? Prevention is always the first step in the solution process but never the only step. If prevention is not something we can do, there are several things to do to help trauma victims.

Action Steps

  • Prevention steps always step one in solving problems before they happen and preventing them from reoccurring.
  • Deal with immediate needs, fears and concerns.
  • Restore the sense of normalcy with structure, routines and predictable schedules.
  • Montior behaviors and emotional responses. (Trauma can linger in individuals for a long time and reoccur with outbursts, depression and other unusual behaviors.)
  • Talk with individuals about what they are feeling.
  • Refer to professionals if there is no improvement. (Do not overreact, it does take a little time to deal with Traumatic events)

I am not a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, but a survivor of a traumatic event and traumatic brain injury. The injuries are life-long but not something you cannot deal with each day. The step about daily routines and structure, this one was critical for me. I needed this to help me in my healing. When things were changed, it threw me off completely. So think about those changes for your students with special needs; they really can not help the behavior. It is a response that is natural to them. Routines are safe for them/us. When we do not have the routine, schedule or sense, or normal, it brings the trauma back to us.

Talking Trauma is not a one-time talk. We need to talk more! There are many things we need to put into practice, take time to have discussions and understand we have all experienced Trauma. Practicing self-care is so important. Letting others know mental health needs are okay, we need to talk to professionals and be treated. Mental health issues does not mean a thing. Let’s stop labeling things please.

Thanks for talking Tuesday! Please add your comments so we can gain more insight to this topic. #Bethesolutiondaily

Reasonable Conversations

Do you find it challenging to have conversations with others? When I say challenging, do they start friendly, and before you know it escalates into an argument, disagreement, or worse? I can expect it maybe at holidays when all of the family crowds into small places and everyone is stressed, but not on a day-to-day basis.

It seems impossible to have a “reasonable” conversation in today’s society. Everyone has a strong opinion on many hot topics like the police, education, Covid-19, vaccinations, safety, racism, and patriotism. It does not matter what platform you select to use to bring up questions, talk about a news item from TV or newspaper, or mention one of the heated topics, and dialogue shuts down.

I have always encouraged others to ask questions, but I admit I am guilty when I feel strongly about a topic and the passion for defending my position. So what is the difference now?

We are no longer having discussions with all sides having the opportunity to provide their points of view and the other to do the same. We need to listen to the facts, gather the truth, restate the accurate findings to reach an agreement. Right now, emotions drive the conversations with no “reasonable” solution to the conversation as the frustration sets in and insults begin. In the “cancel culture” parts of society has created, it is worse than any bullying interventions I have mediated. In just one click, a message is sent, received, and shared by thousands targeting one individual with a label to crush them.

How will you help staff and students navigate through difficult conversations? Do we have debates anymore with content we can fact check for truth and not just opinions? Where do you check for facts and information? Do students know how to research for facts? Are we teaching how to have debates and to discuss different points of view?

We have been fighting bullying for decades in our society. I have lost a former student who moved to a different school to suicide over bullying. I am looking at these conversations through the lens of students growing in this society and how to manage all of this and wonder what we can do to help. Who has the power to change the conversation tones in our communities? I will start with me, and you start with you and maybe will reach the who that makes the change. It is a ripple effect, I believe. If we continue to say something, repeat it over and over, it becomes part of what we believe and think. I know this is true because, sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes______ ______. You finished it because it was part of a marketing campaign. “Just do it” you know this one as well! “Its the real thing.”

Thank you for being the solution daily where one voice, one ear, and one heart make a difference today.