November's Attribute: Conciliatory – Recognizes and Resolves Disputes with Effective Communication

By PrinciPal Connection posted 10-25-2018 10:05


Featured Attribute

Conciliatory – Recognizes and resolves disputes by applying effective communication; uses problem-solving ability and negotiation to attain positive outcomes.

Associated Competency

Community Building – Instills a sense of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together. 

Associated Intelligence

Social Intelligence – A set of interpersonal competencies that inspire others to be effective.

For Your Reflection

Jim Burgett, Retired School Leader, Author, Speaker, and Consultant (

 In my book The School Principal’s Toolbook (2014), I outline a process for receiving a complaint.  This process was developed for administrators, school board members, and anyone faced with a problem-solving situation that screams for a positive solution.  The steps of the process also reflect traditional, hold-harmless fundamentals of effective leadership. The process embodies four procedures: compliment, ask, listen, mimic.  If you want to solve any problem you must first understand it.  To accomplish this you must develop an atmosphere of trust through calm and clear communications.  To begin the process work to settle down the other person with a compliment (find a reason – but if you can compliment their children, or their work, that is usually best).  Then ask them an important starting question – who have they talked to previously about the concern?  Hopefully you will establish a base line of “where they are” in the process through their response.  Then simply listen.  Let them talk about the problem.  Don’t react - just listen.  If you need clarification do so gently without opinion or judgment.  The final step is to mimic, or restate, exactly what they perceive the issue/problem to be.  The Acronym for these four steps (Compliment-Ask-Listen-Mimic) is C.A.L.M.  A calm approach to understanding any problem is always the best way to begin the detailed process of negotiating a solution.  Your end-goal is to find a just solution that leaves everyone feeling that they have been heard respectfully and with compassion.  Getting the process off to a positive start helps drive a positive result.

To Keep You Thinking

  • Being a visionary and solving problems are possibly the two most important components of leadership. How do you insure that you understand the depth and details of the problems you are given to resolve?
  • Think back on the last problem you were presented.  Did you seek to understand all sides of the issue before responding?  Did you establish a comfortable dialogue that built trust between all parties?  Did you resolve the issues in a way that could be communicated clearly?
  • Resolving conflict is both an art and a science.  How do you employ the research-based steps of negotiation and at the same time, build a atmosphere of understanding and compassion?