Speaking Straight and having uncomfortable conversations is a challenge for all of us. Lars Hagner, Vice President of the Mechanical Service Division at Worth and Company, Inc., shared a story with us about how his daughter, Emily, used The Collaborative Way to help her take on a difficult conversation at school. We thought it was such a great story, we asked him if he would share it with all of you! Here’s Lars’s story (in his own words):

My daughter’s a very structured person. She’s passionate about the sports medicine program she’s in at school, and she wants to get into a good college, so she’s constantly making sure she’s on top of everything with her grades. She was having trouble with her science teacher, though. They’re doing virtual learning, and if you have any questions, you’re supposed to direct message him, but he wasn’t getting back to her. She got the guidance counselor involved, but the guidance counselor kept blowing her off, too, so Emily was extremely upset.

We went out to dinner one night, and she said, “Nobody’s getting back to me. I don’t know what to do here.”

I said to her, “I think you might need to have an uncomfortable conversation with them.”

She said, “You know what, I’m going to do some Speaking Straight and really have a Collaborative Way conversation!” We were giggling about it. “I know that’s where you’re going with this, Dad, but I beat you to the punch!”

It’s kind of a running joke around the house, how much I talk about The Collaborative Way. Anyways, having uncomfortable conversations has always been difficult for Emily. After she read The Collaborative Way book, that’s the thing that resonated the most with her: that you have to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations.

So, Emily emailed the counselor again, but she still wasn’t getting back to her. So, she wrote her a very long email this time, and the guidance counselor finally got back to her. She told her, “OK, we’ll get together.”

But Emily wrote right back: “OK, I need a by-when.”

That kind of weirded out the guidance counselor. She ended up asking Emily if they could have a Zoom meeting and asked her, “What is this by-when thing?”

So Emilly explained it to her and explained a little bit about The Collaborative Way. And they were able to work out how to deal with the problem with the science teacher. At the end of the meeting, the guidance counselor admitted to Emily that time management was a big issue for her. She said she was going to try using this by-when idea to help her out.

Afterwards, Emily said to me, “It was the first time I felt like I was the teacher, and the teacher was the student! It was the most uncomfortable conversation ever, but I knew I had to do it.” So, now she’s learning to be OK with having uncomfortable conversations, which is a really important life lesson.

She and the guidance counselor have it set up now so that they have regular meetings to check in with each other, and it’s helped a lot. Emily’s questions are getting answered, and her grade in science has improved. Plus, Emily helped the guidance counselor learn to be better with her time management, which is pretty cool for a fifteen-year-old!

A couple of the kids in the class were even like, “Way to go, Emily!”

Thank you, Lars! It’s a great story, and it illustrates how important it is to face the challenge of bringing up uncomfortable conversations and Speaking Straight (regardless of our age!) to resolve difficult issues.