When people feel good about themselves, they naturally do better, produce more, and are just happier in life. So if you want to reduce discipline issues in your classroom and have a more enjoyable experience with youth, help people feel good, not bad.
An old story shows how this type of outlook affects the other person: A young lady was taken to dinner one evening by William Gladstone and then the following evening by Benjamin Disraeli, both eminent British statesmen in the late nineteenth century. “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England,” she said. “But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.”
Disraeli obviously had a knack for making the other person the center of his universe, if only for the evening. If you practice attentiveness to others, you’ll find it does wonders. They will enjoy it, and so will you. Even better, together will accomplish much more.
From now on, make a conscious effort to focus on others—their opinions, experiences, and stories—before you share your own. This certainly applies for when you’re interacting with youth too. Train yourself to focus on what unites you and the other person, rather than on what separates you. If you do this in the classroom, you’ll be amazed at how discipline challenges decrease.
William James, the father of psychology, said, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.” If you focus on others in terms of uniting, which means focusing with positive perceptions, your canvasses will provide satisfaction for both the artist and the viewer—you and the other person.