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How to Say the Right Thing Every Time

How to Say the Right Thing Every Time
Communicating Well With Students, Staff, Parents, and the Public

Second Edition

Other Titles in:
Communication Skills | Leadership

September 2008 | 272 pages | Corwin
Time-tested techniques for avoiding 20 most common communication mistakes! This user-friendly resource for school leaders provides practical strategies for improving daily interactions with students, colleagues, parents, and the community. Each chapter presents ready-to-use tips for effective verbal and written communications. The author offers do's and don'ts for difficult situationsùincluding grief and healing and straight-talk techniques for approaching sensitive topics such as sex, gangs, and substance abuse.

This revised edition features:

- How-to's for dealing with natural and man-made disasters

- A new chapter on differentiating communication to reach a wide audience of stakeholders

- A new section on communicating with school board members

List of Boxes
About the Author
1. The Twenty Biggest Communication Mistakes School Leaders Make and How to Avoid Them
The Top Twenty Reasons Educators Fail to Communicate

The Jargon Trap

Euphemisms Feel Good but Don’t Send a Clear Message

Too Much Political Correctness Can Send Wimpy Messages

How Straight Talk Can Make You a Better School Leader

When the Right Thing to Say Is “Nothing”

More “Must-Do” Tips for Always Saying the Right Thing

2. How to Say the Right Thing to Students
Ten Guidelines for Communicating With Students

Straight Talk Is the Language of Choice With Kids

How to Talk to Young Children on Their Level

How to Talk to Today’s Teenagers

Differences in Talking to Boys and Girls

Another Dozen Do’s and Don’ts for Saying the Right Things to Kids of All Ages

How to Give Clear Directions and Instructions Every Time

Socrates Had It Right: How to Ask Effective Questions

How to Give Students “Pep Talks” That Really Work

How to Give Authentic Praise

How to Help Kids Talk Themselves Into Success

Rhetoric-Free Reprimands

Dealing With Touchy Topics (Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, Eating Disorders, and Other At-Risk Behaviors)

How to Talk to Kids About Death and Dying

How to Talk to Tough Kids (Including Gang Members)

How to Talk to Kids About School Violence

How to Talk to Kids About National Tragedies

3. How to Say the Right Thing to Parents
What to Say to Put Parents at Ease

Success Secrets for Communicating “Must-Know” Information

Straight Talk at Parent-Teacher Conferences

How to Explain Grades and Test Scores

How to Share Good News With Parents

How to Break Bad News (Failure, Retention, Disciplinary Action, Athletic Ineligibility)

Don’t Beat Around the Bush About Bad Behavior

How to Talk to Parents About Student Secrets, Surprises, and Other Sensitive Subjects (Dependency, Pregnancy, Homosexuality)

What to Say to Angry, Out-of-Control Parents and Other Adults

More Pointers for Saying the Right Thing to Parents

4. How to Say the Right Thing to Peers and Colleagues
Successful Job Interviews: How to Ask the Right Questions and Give the Right Answers

How to Ask for and Offer Help to Peers and Colleagues

How to Give Advice

The Language of Coaching and Mentoring

How to Argue and Win

The Proper Art of Bitching: How to Complain About the System and the People in It

How to Criticize a Colleague Without Losing a Friend

What to Say and Not Say When Giving References and Recommendations

What to Say and How to Say It in Performance Reviews

How to Pay Tribute to a Colleague

How to Say the Right Thing to the Central Office

How to Say the Right Thing to the School Board

5. How to Say the Right Thing to the General Public and the Media
Smooth Schmoozing: How to Make Small Talk

How to Sway Opinion and Persuade Nonbelievers

How to Handle Complaints From the Public

How to Make the Most of Good News

Truth in Taxation

How to Ask for Money

“Houston, We Have a Problem”: What to Say When Trouble Strikes

How to Apologize and Admit Mistakes to the Public

Spin-Doctoring for Amateurs

Dealing With the Media: What to Say to Reporters

Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking for School Leaders

6. How to Say the Right Thing in Special Situations
Secrets of Successful Ceremonial Greetings

How to Give and Receive Compliments

How to Show Appreciation and Say “Thank You”

How to Say “No” and Make It Stick

Tips on Testifying

Advice for Leading Prayers, Giving Invocations, and Pronouncing Benedictions

What to Say to Someone Who Is Not Going to Get Well

How to Express Sympathy

How to Give a Eulogy

7. How to Say the Right Thing in Writing
Writing Is Different—or Is It?

A No-Nonsense Writing Clinic for School Leaders

Interoffice Memos: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cyber Straight Talk: Making the Most of Electronic Messages

Real-World Report Writing

How to Say the Right Thing in Business Letters

Correct Forms of Address for Letters to Special Public Figures

How to Write Straight-to-the-Point Press Releases and News Items

8. How to Say the Right Thing With Gestures and Body Language
How the “Silent Language” Speaks Volumes

Avoid Sending Mixed Messages

Understanding the Vocabulary of Body Language

Using the Power of Gestures

Stay out of Trouble: Avoid the Pitfalls of Different Meanings for Different Groups

Smile, You Really Are on Candid Camera

9. How to Target Communication to All Stakeholders

Tale of the Tail: Customizing Communication

Old Stand-bys Aren’t Enough

New Tools for Saying the Right Thing to Everyone

One Strategy That Works With All Stakeholders

A 7-Step Code for Saying the Right Thing

More Ready-to-Use Tips for Targeting Messages to Specific Audiences

How to Be a Communications Hero

A Final Word
Resource A. 101 Ways to Be a Better Communicator Starting Tomorrow Morning

Resource B. What Others Say About Communication: Quips, Quotes, and Anecdotes


"I had several ‘ah-ha’ moments while reading this book. I cannot imagine anyone reading this and not finding it worthwhile. Kudos to the author for creating a meaningful guide for today’s school administrator."

Marie Blum, Superintendent
Canaseraga Central School District, NY

"A good tool for administrators and teacher leaders for its readability, content emphasis, and real-life examples."

Russ Bennett, Superintendent
Aurora City Schools, OH

Relevant to the objectives of the course syllabus

Dr Robert Berardi
Education Dept, Northeastern University
December 25, 2009

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface to the Second Edition

Chapter 1

For instructors

Please contact your Academic Consultant to check inspection copy availability for your course.

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ISBN: 9781412964081
ISBN: 9781412964074