Challenging communication

Every person has a different skill set and way of communicating. It takes time and effort to understand how to communicate best.

Every program has parents who present communication challenges: the difficult-to-please parents, the parents who communicate poorly or not at all, the negative or anxious parent who needs constant support…and many other personalities. Try to remember these challenging parents only want the best for their child, and everyone has different ways of communicating their wishes.

We also have times when differences in work style, pace, and standards can get in the way of a smooth relationship with our co-workers. Here are a few guidelines to help you use communication to build relationships:


Make a point of being approachable and LISTEN. Make eye contact. Reflect what you hear so that the other person knows you are listening. Many times, that is all they need. After they have a chance to speak their mind, people often find the problem solved.


Avoid offering advice unless asked. If you are asked, keep the advice on the level of suggestions. Try to offer more than one.  Back up your suggestions with examples and important considerations, such as lifestyles and family dynamics. Keep the tone and spirit of communication positive.


If you feel you are at fault to any degree, acknowledge it. Apologize. Communicate what you will do to ensure it does not happen again (upsetting incidents can be anything from an untied shoe to forgotten medication to a snarky-sounding comment you made which was not what you meant). Growth is a core value at First Circle, and we cannot grow without being able to acknowledge our mistakes, or, as we view them, our learning opportunities.


Perceptions matter. You may not have meant to walk away from a parent when they were speaking to you or to interrupt a coworker, but that person’s perception may leave them feeling slighted.


Organize and clarify ideas in your mind before you communicate. Choose 3 main points and focus on those. That way, if the topic wanders off course, you can return to one of these points without feeling flustered.


Maintain confidentiality. Do not join in with other teachers talking about parents or co-workers in a negative light. Set an example.