Have you ever had a parent â€śgo offâ€ť on you?Â This may be one of most disconcerting times in the life of an administrator, especially the first time it occurs.Â We have all heard the advice that one should not take it personally.Â What a joke!Â Of course, it is personal!Â The challenge for me as an administrator was to turn this extremely negative happening into a positive.Â Since it is the time of year to have those required conferences, it seems timely to have some thoughts on the subject.
Maintaining a â€ślisteningâ€ť attitude was always my first priority.Â Most of the time with lots of patience this paid off and the real issue(s) would emerge.Â Working out a plan to â€śfixâ€ť the situation was next, and input from the parent about this plan was always critical.Â Then there needed to be an agreement on when the plan would begin and how long it should last.
Now for the difficult part.Â If I felt an apology was necessary, I swallowed my pride and took the fallout, even if the â€śfaultâ€ť was not directly in my control, remembering to never focus on the fault of a staff member in front of the parent.Â If another staff member was at fault, I scheduled a separate meeting with that person to discuss concerns and then to see if the plan would work for them. Â If, however, after discussing all concerns with all parties involved, we could not come up with a plan, I had to find the fortitude to politely inform the parent that it seemed we were not able to find a compromise.Â Instead, I would say to them with a sincere expression that we would need to agree to disagree and continue to look for other options.
This is a condensed version of many years of working with angry parents.Â On those occasions when I did not follow this advice, I was stressed and miserable for longer than the initial argument took.Â Not a win-win in that case!
What advice can you share with us about your â€śtryingâ€ť conferences?