Last week I was blindsided by a situation and forced to play hardball. I would never have chosen this battle but it was apparently my time to fight. After some tense hours, during which I stood my ground, the situation was resolved. My friends and family helped me stay strong and keep the focus on the real issues.
It occurs to me that I need to be more aware of this when I teach. I need to let petty annoyances go and confront the bigger issues when needed. It is a busy kind of life, this teaching thing, filled with students, parents, and colleagues. In order to keep my sanity I need to correctly identify the actual issues, choose my battles, and then be willing to take the consequences.
Little Sally chronically late? The issue isn’t time but respect. Why isn’t piano important enough to be on time? Billy hasn’t practiced for 3 weeks? Same issue. Notice I didn’t say I wasn’t important enough. It’s not about me and I take care not to make it about me.
Parent on the attack? Perhaps picking fights just because? Colleague attempting to run your studio? Student with an attitude and a mouth to match? Here is some wisdom from Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Gentle Verbal Art of Self Defense books which has stood me in good stead over the years.
Identify the presupposed attack and the bait.
Ignore the bait
Respond directly to the presupposed attack.
Also, you don’t always need a bat to play hardball.