A meeting with an angry parent can often be the determining factor in a student’s success. If you have the full support of a student’s parent and are able to build a strong partnership then anything is possible. On the other hand, if you have a bad relationship with a parent the success of the student can jeopardized. The following are 4 things you can do to help ensure a great parent meeting.
When you meet with a parent, make sure that you sit as close as is comfortably possible. It is important that you show that you are comfortable in their presence, even if you are not. Let the parent begin by voicing all of their concerns. While they are voicing their concerns make sure that you are writing them down. This shows that you are taking their concerns seriously.
I am often distrustful when the person waiting on me at a restaurant does not write down my order. They may actually get the order right, but it bugs me nonetheless.
Once the parent’s concerns are mentioned, it is time to start building the relationship. One way to do this is to lean in during the conversation to show there is a bond between the two of you.
Allow the parent to speak for 80% of the time while you speak for only 20% of the time. Many times parents that are angry or upset simply want to be heard. It is not always about us solving their problems, but it is about us listening to their concerns. Truth be told, parents realize we can’t solve every problem, and that is ok. You will have your chance to speak at some point during the meeting, and when you do make it count. Do not lecture the parent and do not simply point out the faults of their child. They know them already. Don’t remind them.
When parents step into the principal or vice principal’s office it is often embarrassing. Parents also think, mistakenly, that we have perfect children and/or don’t make mistakes ourselves. We all know that this is far from the truth. Share with the parent a problem that you may be having with your children. Or, if you do not have children, let the parent know that their child is not the first to experience these issues and that things will get better.
Just yesterday I shared with a distraught parent that I had the same problem at home with my daughter that she had had with her son. This admission caused the parent to breath a sigh of relief. She felt as if a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders to know that I too, the “child expert”, have problems with my children that aren’t always easy to solve.
4. Make Physical Contact
Simon Sinek mentions the importance of physical contact in his brilliant talk titled Leaders Eat Last https://jonharper70.wordpress.com/leaders-eat-last/ . Human beings are very distrustful of people who are hesitant to have any physical contact with them. Think about the last time someone wouldn’t shake your hand or pulled away from a hug. These types of interactions leave us feeling distrustful and suspicious.
This does not mean that we need to initiate uncomfortable contact with a parent. Sometimes a simple handshake or touch will do. There are times when the bonds have been built that a hug will in fact be appropriate. This is a skill that takes instinct and it takes time. But, I can assure you that once you have that bond and connection with a parent, you will have a partnership that will flourish.
Remember if the parent trusts and respects you then they will convey that to their children. On the other hand,
“If you don’t like someone, the way he holds his spoon will make you furious; if you do like him, he can turn his plate over in your lap and you won’t mind.” Irving Becker