Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Courtesy of a "Heads Up"

A missed an afternoon of school last week to got tour a prospective high school. We asked the previous day to send an email to the teachers' whose classes he was going to miss giving them a heads up. He refused, saying there was no need, as his classmates would just tell the teachers, if they asked, that he was gone to check out a high school. Today I talked to the boys about the importance of giving people a "heads up". People really appreciate it if at the beginning of a meeting (or class or phone call) one says "I might need to leave early because...", or "I might need to take a phone call". A simple heads up lets you get away with stuff that would be pretty rude otherwise, such as taking a call in the middle of a meeting, or leaving in the middle of a class.

The same principle applies to delivering bad news. The more heads up the better. For example, if you do poorly in a test but don't tell your parents. Then don't share the test results with them. But wait until the teachers drops the bomb at the parent-teacher conference, your parents are likely going to be very upset (and probably take away some of your privileges). If instead, you give your parents a heads up the day of the test "mom, I had a math test today in which I think I did poorly", then the consequences once you share the test results with your parents are likely to be much less severe. By sharing the info early you showed you cared. You were honest, and, you lowered expectations...

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