I work with educators to improve classroom management and produce a positive climate for learning. Teaching is the toughest job on the planet. Have you ever tried to engage 30 youth of varying ages and ability levels to teach them the same content or skills at the same time? Following close behind teaching is coaching. Coaches must teach athletes to perform key skills smoothly under pressure. There are Empathizer (E-type) coaches and Instigator (I-type) teachers, and E-type teachers and I-type coaches, who use the different styles elaborated upon in the TALK2ME© positive and effective communication system to engage their students and get their content across…and they experience great success!
I WANT TO HAVE FUN DOING WHAT I DO
Teachers’ moods can plummet when district or building leadership is uncaring, bossy, or two-faced. This is particularly true of those tuned-in-to-sensitivity E-type teachers. Here’s an example from a 30-something professional educator who was feeling burned out in a negative climate….
I hate my job. Why did I even bother to get a Master’s degree? The kids are disrespectful. The administration doesn’t care about the teachers. Then they have the audacity to make this long list of huge expectations. Moreover, it’s not fun and I hate it. It’s not fun working for a supervisor who doesn’t appreciate you and who always takes the other side. My job used to be fun. I believe that’s why I’m so depressed and why I am so frustrated all the time.
I don’t feel that anyone cares about me. This is what I feel, and this is what I’ve inferred. The criticisms flow freely, but the caring is all blocked-up. I just want to do my job. I try not to take things personally, but I can pretty much see that you don’t care about me, or my peers. When you don’t care about your staff and teachers, the sick-call rate is high. Why would leaders do that? I just feel so uncared about. The same old bull crap keeps happening.
What if you had sure-fire methods to make sure your sensitive teachers stayed pumped up instead of pooped out, merely by keeping the lines of communication open….
DARING TO CARE
Empathizer-type educators from all walks of life function at their peak when they feel sincerely cared for. Conversely, E-type educators’ (males or females) gas tanks are siphoned by this supervisory attitude: “Look, getting the job done is more important than the person doing it….” Noteworthy differences….
• E-types feel cared about when you take a couple of minutes to understand them.
• E-types’ production increases by 40% when they feel cared about.
• Likewise, E-types’ productivity goes down 40% when faced with an intellectually intimidating or adversarial boss.
• E-types are more prone to feeling dispirited and depressed, while I-types are more prone to feeling impatient and frustrated.
• When I-types take a few minutes of one-on-one time to listen and hear a few personal stories, the E-types’ mood brightens up…and they’re good to go.
• When they feel uncared for, E-types experience low self-esteem and will clam up, holding on to their bright ideas.
• E-types beat themselves up so much that a little criticism goes far.
• Instigator-type communicators are hard drivers who don’t expect kudos, relying instead on encouraging self-talk.
• I-type supervisors who expect E-type teachers to be like them – independent and gung-ho – are going to run into communication roadblocks.
• I-types hate to beat around the bush, so they get right down to brass tacks and say whatever comes to mind…which can come across as uncaring to the E-type.
• I-types don’t worry about hurting feelings to correct a situation. “If that’s what it takes to get the job done, then lesson learned.” However, that lesson may just cost the relationship.
• I-types don’t take time to shoot the breeze, considering non-purposeful socializing to be a waste of time.
• Depressed E-types feel numb about their work, which depresses them even more.
• E-types need to work from a place of enjoying what they’re doing and feeling that their contributions matter.
• When E-types aren’t having fun doing what they’re doing, they will feel that their communicator car wheels are spinning, stuck in a rut…then they will shy away and pull back from speaking out, taking healthy risks, going the extra mile and smiling, and feeling that they’re a worthy contributor to the team.
(N)ICENESS: YOU CATCH MORE EMPATHIZERS WITH HONEY
You catch more Empathizers with honey than vinegar. And just a little honey helps the E-type fly. Being civil and nice is a core life value of Empathizers. Being gruff, rough, and tough talking is a real turn off to the sensitive E-type.
In all fairness, Instigator leaders know they need to work on their communication skills. “I get frustrated and it comes out of my mouth frustrated. I could use a little bit more diplomacy…put a little bit more sugar on it…present ideas in a way that smoothes the way for their acceptance. I can be pretty gruff. I need to put a little sugar on it…put a little honey on it.”
PUT A LITTLE SUGAR ON IT…PUT A LITTLE HONEY ON IT
Discord is stressful for E-types. Empathizers particularly feel the effects of a brash personality who uses a loud or adversarial tone. When peace-loving E-types feel that progress-driven I-types have poked holes in their bucket of fresh energy, we all lose…especially our students.
Would you like to build up teacher confidence, and thus teacher performance? Then you need to know what makes Empathizer teachers tick…and ticked off. Know, also, that E-types don’t work for the money or glory. They enjoy the work of making a positive difference in people’s lives.
When you don’t play to Empathizer strengths, you will unintentionally activate their weaknesses, and this is what you’ll get: “I need to feel confident to pass the muster. When I feel confident, my performance improves. It’s a struggle to get to work when I feel depressed and frustrated. I feel like I’m constantly pushing myself or slogging through concrete. I keep throwing punches but not landing any. It’s not fun working here anymore, and I hate my job.”
ABOUT THE TALK2ME© SYSTEM
Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the founder of New Insights Communication, a coaching and relationship counseling practice located in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Dennis O’Grady is the author of three works, the most recent being Talk to Me: Communication Moves to Get Along with Anyone, which is a communication training book. Dr. Dennis O’Grady is a corporate trainer, keynote speaker and motivational speaker. His executive coaching and business consulting programs are targeted at the areas of leadership development, communication, change management and conflict resolution.