One of Nurturing Wisdom’s values is “be candid, but nice.” Founder and president, Pari Schacht, likes to say, “If we rock the boat early, it won’t capsize later.” Basically, she means that we should approach any potentially uncomfortable conversation knowing that we have everyone’s best interests in mind, and that we’re all pulling in the same direction. She wants us to speak up – in a clear, direct, and kind manner – now, before things become harder later. This value helps our company evolve and improve, helps directors and tutors communicate effectively with parents and students, and helps students speak up for themselves.
When we meet with students who are starting tutoring, we ask them about self-advocacy. What do they do if they’re struggling with something in school? Will they ask a teacher for help, or let it go and try to cope with it on their own? Often students tell us that they don’t want to go to a teacher with an academic problem because they’re afraid of angering the teacher or “looking stupid.” Keeping in mind our emphasis on candor, we coach students to speak up and ask for help.
An extreme example of what can happen if we don’t speak up can be found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, which analyzes the trends that contributed to people becoming successful. The book also looks at the factors that, if not remedied quickly, can snowball into disaster. Specifically, Gladwell found that in several separate instances, plane crashes easily could have been avoided had the flight crew communicated with one another in a quicker, clearer manner. Sadly, a chief reason that the communication lines broke down was that junior pilots were afraid to speak up and risk “disrespecting” the captain.
The “but nice” part of our candor value helps us to take the risk of initiating tough conversations without the fear of disrespecting the other person. Once students understand this, they see that meeting with their teachers can often result in a win-win situation (one of our other values!). The student gets the support they need, and the teacher gets an engaged and motivated student.
The more you practice being candid but nice, the easier it gets, and the more you maximize your communication with others. Little concerns don’t turn into bigger ones later, which all parties will be grateful for!