Grace in Relationships: Reflect Don't Deflect

People are complicated. We are not an algorithm you can run through a supercomputer that turns over the perfect way to respond. Timing, tone, and relationships have more to do with how the message is received than what you say. Too often we get caught up in being friends, being liked, or other external influences, and forget that caring about others sometimes means we have to address things that won’t be liked—but these things are needed.

Having grace in your professional relationships means maintaining focus and being able to rise to the task even if it is an uncomfortable situation. What you must decide in every relationship and hard conversation is whether you will deflect or reflect what you need to say.

Deflective leadership is a style of leadership in which the leader avoids taking responsibility for their actions or decisions. They may blame others, make excuses, or simply ignore problems. A leader who deflects in their relationships will look to the other person’s flaws without considering any faults they could have brought into the mix. They are you more apt to drag out the conversation, waiting for it to dissolve before they have to say anything, hoping it doesn’t get worse or someone gets hurt in the meantime.

Relationships require effort and a willingness to meet in the middle. That could mean stepping back and letting the other person share their hurt or frustration about the interaction. It could mean stepping up and recognizing that your tone or the words you used caused pain or frustration that fractured the relationship, and you have a responsibility to fix it. This is where reflective leadership comes in. 

Reflective leadership is a style of leadership in which the leader takes the time to think about their actions and decisions. They are open to feedback, willing to learn from their mistakes, and take responsibility for their actions. Reflective leaders are also good at listening to others and considering different perspectives. They are able to see the big picture, and they are able to make decisions that are in the best interests of everyone.

Leading with grace and building deep relationships means moving past the nice conversations or fear of having the tough talks. While it is hard in the moment, it is necessary for the long term.

Lead Forward Strategy: Push The Pause Button

Grace in relationships requires a check of your self-regulation. Are you in the right place and space to have the conversation? While you can’t control the reactions of people, you can control your response and preparedness.

  • Are you ready to engage and respond? Check your emotional state before you attempt to engage in a conversation. If you must have the conversation right at that moment, let the other person know why you might be a little off or upset at the start. For example, if you had a time scheduled to meet and discuss a difficult situation, and right before that meeting you had a difficult interaction with a student, you might start the meeting by pointing out the elephant in the room. Make statements such as, “I am sorry if I am off. The interaction I had right before our meeting has me a little out of balance.” Leading with vulnerability in your relationships allows you to be real and honest upfront and build better relationships with those you’re leading.

  • Write it down. Take time to write down what you want to say, then review it and even read it aloud. Reflect on the situation to make sure you’re ready to engage in productive discourse, not harmful assaults. Taking the time to prepare yourself will help you maintain the relationship rather than harming it with hastily spoken, unrehearsed words.

  • Be on, not ornery. If you are agitated or frustrated, pause and reschedule the meeting. If your energy doesn’t support the conversation you are going to have, it will be hard to be successful.
  • Watch out for the spray and pray. Successful conversations create change when they are directed at the right source. Saying something to everyone and hoping “the one” hears it is an ineffective strategy. Take the time to connect with the specific people who are causing the concern, and you will be more productive and build trust across all stakeholders.

Being able to recognize deflection and steer clear of it is a key way to build your relationships as a leader. Read more of Lead With Grace and become a better leader today.

If you want to be a more effective leader, it is important to develop reflective leadership skills. By taking the time to think about your actions and decisions, being open to feedback, learning from your mistakes, and being open to new ideas, you can become a more reflective leader that is focused on building a school culture of positivity centered on learning. 

Main post image  by asim alnamat from Pexels

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