Defending the first to speak

defenderYou just saw a movie with a group of people – and as everyone is walking to the exit, someone asks: “What did you think?”

You have a few options.

A) Blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.

B) Hold back and get a sense of other people’s responses, formulate your ideas, and decide what your social goals are.

Isn’t it awesome to have a fully developed pre-frontal cortex? To be able to moderate your mouth, to make complex decisions about conversational cause-and-effect?

Teenagers: Brains are in not fully developed. Hormones are pretty darned developed.

By the time they realize what they want to say, they’ve already said the wrong thing.

Classroom Scenario

You offer a prompt or a question – perhaps on a controversial topic. The whole class is silent and still, except for one hand. You call on that brave soul.

The idea is half-baked. Maybe a little offensive.

A flock of hands now flies up. Students launch an offensive on the first speaker.

True, his idea was lacking. But after critique number two, nearly any student would become locked, defensive, and want only rescue himself from the onslaught.

What do you do?

After two or three critical comments directed towards a student, give him/her the courtesy of responding, clarifying what s/he meant, or defending his/her point.

Afterwards, it’s your job to highlight whatever grain of truth is in the idea. [Then, move on.]

Not only is it the fair thing to do, but also, it might allow him/her to invest less in protecting him/herself, and more energy in opening up to a new perspective.

He might even learn something.





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