You’re in the Arena (Part 2 of 2)

When I last left you we had put our finger on one major component of relationships. And that is the power of vulnerability and the value of expressing our needs.

In my last story about our football team (which you can read here if you missed it). I discussed how I had a deep-rooted need for respect consuming my emotional state.

I imagine you’ve felt the same way at some point in your own career. Working at a school is hard enough as it is. When we don’t feel respected or appreciated or supported, that work can become even harder.

I had blown up, lost the team, upset all the parents, and truly embarrassed myself. What was I to do?

Recently, I wrote a book on positive school conflict resolution. In RISING ABOVE I talked to countless experts about school conflict and culture, and the overwhelming lesson that each one of them highlighted was that we must CONNECT before we CORRECT.

This is what Monica, our main character in the book, models time and time again.

She shows us the power of face-to-face connections, the importance of listening before responding, and the positive outcomes that we can achieve if we commit to connecting with others.

I had to take the advice that those experts had helped me outline in that book.

I went to meet personally with each of the families from our 8U team.

I pulled the 9U team (who wasn’t even at the earlier game) together at the stadium and apologized to them.

I apologized to everyone and owned my mistake. I gave no “but”. That would be the wrong kind of apology.

You’ve heard the wrong kind of apology before, right?

It goes like this…

“I am sorry I got angry, but I was mad because you didn’t clean the dishes.”
“I am sorry I was worried, but the way you were acting made me anxious.”
“I am sorry for being late, but you never told me exactly what time to be there.”

See the issue with this apology? The word “but” causes a lot of problems. It takes a very nice apology and flips blame over on to the other person.

So, what did I need to do? I needed to say…

“I am so sorry for yelling at the boys and exploding at the stadium. Please forgive me.”

That is it. No “buts,” just “sorry.”

Then I asked the families questions.

“How do you feel?”
“Do you have any thoughts?”
“Do you have any feedback for me?”

This opened up the conversation. Remember what Monica teaches in RISING ABOVE: connect and then correct! This approach allowed the connection to be made, and also gave me the opportunity to express my underlying need for respect and why I was so tight that weekend.

Through this method, I was able to open up sincerely.

Ultimately, you and I do the work we do because we care and we want to make a difference.

What could have been a catastrophic ending turned into an opportunity for growth and understanding. I learned something. I grew. I improved. And that is why I choose to live in the arena.

JC Pohl, LMFT
President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH

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