I am generally a non-confrontational person. This makes it difficult to confront people who are verbally confrontational. At the beginning of my career switch to teaching, I started off as an assistant in the class because I wanted to see if I would like teaching enough to continue. I was willing to do anything in the class to be considered a team player. However, this was misconstrued by the lead teacher as a lack of self-esteem and that I was “sucking up” so she always tried to get me to do really menial stuff. After a month, I decided that teaching was what I wanted to do and I was ready to take part in a meaningful role as an assistant while I pursed my Child Development Associate diploma. This teacher decided that I was not complying and she needed a proper assistant. I was very respectful and asked her what she really wanted. I was helping with the children, I was reading to them, helping them with the manipulatives, and on point as per the job description. What my colleague needed was a person that would make her feel powerful. I ended this tension by being respectful of her feelings and telling her that if she wanted, I would transfer to another class but that I thought that if we had clear boundaries as to our duties, I thought we would make a great team. She apologized for her attitude and told me that people were always taking advantage of her. We ended up becoming good friends.
I now know that fear, frustration, and relationship problems can cause people to have difficulty communicating with others. Because I took the time to know her and ask her about the cause of her attitude, my colleague was able to see that her behavior was not helping the situation. I guess I used the nonviolent communication strategy of not judging her behavior and it worked.
I have a colleague who told me that she became a better communicator when she got married because her husband was always calm. She told me that she kept a “dossier” of anything that he did that hurt her or that she did not like. Her husband used to tell her that when she used the words like “always”, and “never” it meant that she had not forgiven him completely for whatever it was that he had done or not done. That helped her to change her attitude and word choices. I guess that also made her sound less judgmental. She told me that now has fewer confrontations with her husband.
This week’s topics have helped me to be more conscious of how I say things to other people and to observe the 3R’s, Respect, reciprocity and responsiveness.