Last week I spoke to a group of educators in North Dakota — which is one of my two favorite Dakotas, hands down. Anyway, one of the more successful moments occurred during a smaller breakout where I asked the administrators to think like teachers, and the teachers to think like administrators. I know, whoa!
More specifically, I asked each to anticipate some strengths and weaknesses that might be stress-tested in their imaginary new roles. And while it didn’t cause them to break into a spontaneous group hug, it did elicit some big laughs and a few surprise admissions.
In theory, we all know the value of empathy and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. But in practice, we’re all so rushed and stressed that creating a moment to trade places and flip our own scripts can really pay off. With the right nurturing, it can plant the seeds of a new understanding that at best may lead to better solutions — or at least kinder disagreements.