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The Conference Whisperer


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At a parent conference I once attended as a principal, a former drill sergeant who was the parent of a child in my school shared an idea that has stuck with me ever since

As a drill sergeant, this parent was use to barking orders. Even though he had left the military and was now a civilian, he often found that his drill-sergeant ways came across to people he met. He noticed that people would even back away from him as he spoke. He said he didn't feel good about their reaction, so he changed his way of communicating.

This former drill sergeant told me that he started to whisper when he talked with others. By doing that, he noticed that he was able to draw people closer to him. He also noticed that people seemed to pay more attention to what he was saying when they were not being intimidated by the volume of his voice.

The teacher who was sitting in on that conference took this parent's suggestion back to her classroom. Just a few weeks later she reported its success at a faculty meeting. Other teachers who tried the technique found success with it too. Later, I included a short message in a parents' newsletter about what our teachers were doing. Some parents told me that they had adopted the approach at home. One parent reported, "My children were tuning my husband and me out when we yelled, but they were curious to hear what we had to say when we whispered."

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Explore this series of nine articles by George Pawlas:
  • Share the Pride: Six "Pride Statements" Get Year Off to a Great Start
  • Getting the Most Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences
  • Newsletters: An Essential Tool for Every Principal
  • Building Positive Relationships With the Media
  • The Benefits of Being an MBWA Principal
  • More Tips for Great Newsletters
  • 50 Million Students Can't Be Wrong: Improving Perceptions of Your School
  • Support Personnel Are P.R. People Too
  • Create a School Profile Brochure
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08/07/2006