How to approach having crucial conversations at your childcare center blog header

How to approach having crucial conversations at your childcare center

In a recent webinar on effective strategies for communicating with co-workers, Beth Cannon from Beth Cannon Speaks! joined us to discuss strategies for shifting from reactive to receptive in communication. She offered practical advice to support us during our most challenging conversations. Beth also shared some example scenarios in early childhood classrooms, along with conversation starters and guidance for when these conversations go off track.

If you don’t talk it out, you will act it out.”

Joseph Grennen
Adults talking

In a childcare center, educators and directors are in constant conversation. Knowing how to navigate these interactions in a positive and constructive way is crucial to your continued success regardless of your role. We all feel tension in various ways, but the source is the same: we are being squeezed in all different directions, and when that happens what is inside us, comes out, often as emotions. 

The pressures inside and outside of work often compound this issue. When there is a crucial conversation you know you need to have, have the courage to walk in freedom and not fear conflict. Conflict is not negative. There is always a path through conflict in conversations. 

Crucial conversations in childcare

All crucial conversations have the following elements: 

  1. Opposing views – starting from different perspectives can make it difficult to keep calm and get along 
  2. High-stakes – conflict can be intimidating because we are afraid that if we address the issue, it may make things worse
  3. Strong emotions – childcare professionals are passionate people, and in crucial conversations, passions can collide

Be self-aware of your emotional commotion and how you respond to your own emotions. Are you an exploder who shows pain and shames people? Or are you an imploder that builds barriers and becomes bitter? Maybe somewhere in between? 

Before a conversation: 

  • Start with the heart and remove any preconceived judgments 
  • Evaluate your emotions – how you feel in the moment 
  • Prepare and get your heart right 
  • Cultivate courage. It takes a lot of courage to have these conversations! 

During a conversation: 

  • Separate fact from fiction 
  • Lean in and listen to what the other person is saying
  • Engage with empathy. You have to be able to feel what others feel. 
  • Weigh your words. Words are like toothpaste, once they are out they cannot go back in. 
Co-workers looking at computer

After a conversation: 

  • Surrender to the outcome. Keep unity as the goal. 
  • Keep it confidential. It does not have to be shared. 
  • Reevaluate your response 
  • Cultivate kindness through it 

Constructive opening statements:

  • “I have something I would like to discuss with you that I think will help us work better together.” 
  • “I’d like to talk about X with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view.”
  • “I need your help with what just happened.”
  • “I would love to have your perspective on something .”

If the conversation is not going well: 

  • Count to 10 in your head before saying another word 
  • Focus on solving, not blaming. Surrender what you cannot control. 
  • Say something positive and uplifting 
  • Focus on unity as the outcome 

Know that you will never regret being kind. Not everyone is going to agree with you, so you need to find a way to be okay with that for the sake of everyone’s well-being. Team up with your colleagues to provide the best care for the children: we’re all in this together! 

Check out our whole webinar on effective strategies for communicating with co-workers! 

Recommended Book: Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny

Beth Cannon

Beth Cannon is known for her unique and effective approach to equipping and empowering early education leaders and teams. A sought-after speaker, coach, and consultant, Beth is the creator of a variety of strategy development and training programs and has delivered thousands of transformational keynotes and workshops for conferences, retreats, and schools.

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