The Power of a Kind Voice

clarifi May 22, 2020

Like a Duck

Telephones lighting up.
Line 1: Teacher calling in sick.
Line 2: Angry parent.
Crying eyes staring up: little one seeking an ice pack.
Tap on the shoulder: teacher asking for a student’s file.
Eventful minute for most, but not for Carla.
She politely puts the teacher on hold and pages the assistant principal; she offers a kind greeting and exquisite manners to a slightly confused and well-meaning mom; gives a hug and an ice pack to poor little Michael (while offering a silent thank you to her principal for the phone headset); and gives wide-eyes and a smile while mouthing, “just a sec” to the teacher waiting for that file.
Staff and families are used to Carla’s calm superpowers; what they don’t see is that her mind is churning full speed and she is simplifying and clarifying with deeply ingrained habits.
Like a duck swimming in a busy pond. Cool, calm and smooth on the surface, but so much is happening underneath. The confidence and chill vibe doesn’t just magically happen or come in a course, but from the sum of many consistently practiced and refined habits.
On the journey to excellence, there is one habit that provides a foundation for all others: a kind voice.
Use a Kind Voice
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If everything happened smoothly, it wouldn’t seem such a daunting task. But with many interactions coming with emotion, urgency and at inopportune times, it can be difficult to use a kind voice in every moment.
Luckily, repetition creates habits and opportunities to practice a kind voice are very easy to find in a school office:
  • A mom new to town calls about her first child going to school and anxiety is just dripping off her first few words.
  • A student with a scraped his knee is in need of some motherly love and a bandaid to make it all better.
  • Grandma frantically calls with “Sally didn’t get off the bus at her stop!” and needs calm and kind reassurance: “More than likely Sally fell asleep on the bus after a fun-filled day. Please give me a sec to check with the driver for you.”
  • Suzy comes running through the office doors saying “Am I late? My mom didn’t wake me up!” and is greeted with a smile and a “Well, I am happy you are here today!”
  • Every conversation is punctuated with a smile and a “Thank you for checking in. Please don’t hesitate to call if you have any further questions or concerns and have a wonderful day!”
Each gracious interaction strengthens our ability to call upon our kind voice in other moments, building a powerful habit that comes naturally in stressful times. Every over-the-top busy snapshot of time holds within it an opportunity to calm the waters, exercise a kind voice, and get a bit better prepared for the inevitable next time.
When clarity is delivered with a kind voice, we leave a positive wake that washes over the entire school community.

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