October 10, 2011

Being Concise and Direct

As I move into Autumn of my Year of Balance, my intention is to be more concise and direct both in written and spoken communications. To do so, my I have redesigned the grading rubrics so that students are graded on professionalism. This requires me to be clear about what works and what can be improved in their projects. Sounds easy but it is more challenging than it sounds. Instead of quick grading notes like, "Great! Good work! Awesome!" I am offering more useful feedback such as, "Good job citing a specific example to support your conclusion" or "This sentence needs editing to clarify your point."

Part of my motivation for being clearer is that I find myself over-enthusiastically making supportive statements. "Wow!" "That's awesome!" How often should I be using awesome? What makes something awesome? Is that just the extrovert's easy-out? How about observing, processing and sharing a deeper thought?

As I am becoming more aware of my personal and professional interactions, I am finding that my pace of communication is becoming more controlled. Meaning, that I am allowing more space for others to complete their thought. East Coasters love to talk on top of each other. We're very comfortable layering the conversation. Out here on the West Coast, people stop and listen when you start talking. It has taken me years to become comfortable with this communications style. It is proving to be a better way to have meaningful, deep conversations instead of just creating noise and not hearing each other.

I want to present myself clearly and to have others hear what I have to say. To do so, I am learning, I need not always be the cheerleader, the quickest to respond, the loudest, or to finish other people's thoughts. What I need are thoughtful, well-chosen words.

This is a practice of introversion.