This Citi Card commercial cracks me up yet I find it so relatable! I often wish I didn’t have to guess what something REALLY meant. I don’t know about you, but Reading People’s Minds did NOT pop up on my Gallup Strengths Finder results. I’m a Shoot-It-Straight kind of girl. As I was considering the vagueness that exists in our everyday conversations–as educators, as stakeholders, as humans–I began to wonder…
Do we give this type of feedback to students?
Are we saying one thing and meaning another?
Better yet, are we expecting students to translate the REAL meaning of the feedback or worse–our silence?
The ambiguity of this type of dialogue (or lack thereof) is nearly impossible for me to decipher; I can’t imagine how students might feel. I’m not proposing we become blunt, harsh or speak from a rush of emotions. That type of “feedback” might need a little simmer-down time. I am suggesting we express our interpretation through communication. I like the way Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda said it in Escaping the School Leaders Dunk Tank,
“Communication isn’t about winning or losing; it’s about navigating through the situation with as much diplomacy and accuracy as possible.”
It’s ok to disagree. In fact, criticism is like a mirror with various angles. Without it, we miss seeing ourselves from multiple points of view. A simple paraphrase might make a world of difference. For example, “When you say ____, I take that to mean ____. Is that what you intended?”
It baffles me that we are more afraid to clarify than to leave a situation foggy and hazy. Clear communication is crucial to building trusting relationships. Granted, this should not be misconstrued as an excuse to be rude; there’s enough of that in this world. However, critical feedback and thoroughly explaining our rationale of a situation is necessary and must not go unsaid. In fact, when one says nothing, the silence is often translated as a misperception that is far worse than the reality. The solution is simple yet profound; say what we mean and mean what we say.
Let’s shoot it straight.