Monday, July 4, 2011

Likable and Trustworthy: "Enchanting" Schools, Part One

In my recent post, a prelude to this series, I suggested a change in thinking about education from a responsibility to a cause.  In this post, part one of a five part series, I examine how schools can address the first two ways to make your cause more enchanting - being likable and trustworthy.

As a reminder, the 10 ways to make your cause more enchanting are taken from Guy Kawasaki's Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions.  If you want a quick reference of the 10 ways, I suggest this blog post by David Deal.

Likability

From Mr. Deal's post:
The cornerstone of enchantment is achieving likability.
You cannot enchant anyone without likability. Being likable means getting little fundamentals right, such as:
* Have a “Duchenne smile” — or a smile so strong it gives you crow’s feet.
* Dress for a tie. Don’t under dress for our audience. Don’t overdress. Dress for your peers.
* Develop a great handshake – not too long, not too short.
For schools

The physical condition of the school leaves the impression that is the equivalent of the 3 items above.  A well manicured, landscaped, clean, and organized campus is the school's smile, dress, and handshake.

In addition, communication between families and school personnel provides a means to extend likability beyond face to face interactions.  The more personal you can make the communication, the more enchanting it will be.

When you have opportunities to meet students and families in person, be prepared to establish the partnership desired with them by having a likable presentation.  Use positive, growth oriented language.  When writing, use as much active voice as possible and always spell check.  Have a sense of humor and know when to use it.

Being likable is very important because it is your way of building credit in your "relationship account" that you may need to make withdrawals from later.  A significant "balance" will allow you to get through some tough times and endure (more on endurance later).

Ultimately, if you are likable others will view interactions with you as a positive experience, not one to be avoided.  Likable people (and schools) have a great foundation from which to build support for their causes.

Trustworthiness

From Mr. Deal's post:
You have to show trust in others to get them to trust you. Amazon.com shows trust in you by giving you a week to return a Kindle if you don’t like it. Zappos and Nordstrom trust others with their liberal return policies and service.
You also achieve trustworthiness by being a “baker, not an eater” – someone who shares, not takes from others.
For schools

Building trust ultimately comes down to whether or not the school follows through on its claims.  The same general rule applies for teachers in their classes, administrators for their divisions, etc.

Many people are busy and rely heavily on organizing their family calendars.  Schools need to respect this and work to maintain a school calendar that, once published, has very few avoidable changes.  Teachers should take the same approach.

If you would like to read more about trust, I have 2 posts recently written about that topic.  One is about building trust.  The other is about the difference between building trust and earning trust

Sharing is another way to build trust and schools have begun to embrace this concept more fully in recent years.  The ease of sharing information through web sites, blogs, and social networks is a great way for schools, teachers, and administrators to share.  In addition, opening your campus to outside events shares your school with audiences that can help promote your cause.

Sharing implies some transparency, so be prepared to answer questions or talk more about your school once you begin sharing.  Also, sharing does not anticipate anything in return except the appreciation of the recipient.  Sharing, when done in an enchanting way, is free and is its own reward.

Conclusion and coming next...

At the core of becoming an enchanting school are being likable and trustworthy.  If your school or class is not both of these, then you will have a very difficult time attracting the supporters you need to promote your cause.

Present yourself and your school in a way that makes people want to be around you (or at least not run away!) and follow through on your claims and promises.

In part 2 of this series, I will explore getting ready and actually launching your cause.  In other words, how to prepare and begin your class/school year in a way that enchants your students and families to become a positive partner with you.
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