If you haven't discovered it yet, the behavior strategies you use with your children and students work with adults, as well. Behavior is behavior, and whether you are five or fifty-five, I believe all individuals do the best they are able with the skills at their disposal. So, whichever side of spring break you are on, remember…
- Use fewer words when working with individuals who are upset. Words fuel the fire. When we are upset, feelings drive our reactions. So, attend less to the words and more the emotional state of the person with whom you are speaking.
- Watch timing when discussing difficult situations with others. When individuals are calm, they are more able to rationally discuss and respond. However, when individuals are angry, or when there is an audience, conflict often arises. Private discussions are always preferable to public ones.
- Empathize. This goes a long way with frustrated individuals. It is hard to argue with someone who is agreeing with you, or at the very least, empathizing with the situation. When we put ourselves in the shoes of another person, there is a shift in understanding. Empathy does not mean we agree with a stance, it simply means we are trying to better understand a position.
- Stay positive. When individuals are complaining or venting, continually look for the silver lining in the situation. We can only be responsible for our own actions and when we refuse to let others bring us down, it sends a good message about our character. We also increase the chance our attitude will spread.
It is my guess you will have ample opportunity to practice these strategies between now and the end of the school year. Don't get frustrated when you fall short. Just as it takes students plenty of practice to change behaviors, so too is the case with adults. Actually, it is harder because adults have had many more years in which to ingrain the specific habits we are currently trying to break. Remain hopeful. All too soon, summer will relieve the spring fever currently overtaking us all.