High School Principal on Level B


Many of the teachers and students at my high school are operating at the the higher levels. However, I  often operate at Level B. I became aware of this while listening to you. I will be working to change my approach. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.


Dear High School Principal,

You have hit upon a significant point which needs to be brought to the attention of school administrators everywhere.

Every time you are about to TELL, ask yourself this question: “How can I say this in a POSITIVE and ENCOURAGING WAY? Example: “You are right on track. You may also want to consider. . . .”

Note that telling is not the same as sharing. Sharing is necessary and is noncoercive. Telling, on the other hand, connotes criticism. The implicit message is that something needs to be changed. Although change may be challenging, we often engage in it. In contrast, no one likes to be told to change.

Another strategy is to ask a reflective question. Example: “Can you think of anything else that should be done?” This type of question is both positive and challenging.

Be sure the questions engender positive feelings, are within the person’s ability, and are reasonable. I once worked for a supervisor who asked questions that alienated people. His questions prompted negative feelings because what he was asking was unreasonable.

Asking reflective questions is a skill. Anyone who wants to influence others should practice it. In fact, asking reflective questions is one of the most important skills anyone can use to effect change. Reflective questions are noncoercive, do not prompt feelings of self-defensiveness, and improve relationships.