I was recently reading a Facebook post where a group member mentioned having a “thin skin”. Although most people would think that I don’t have one it’s because I’ve had years of training burying reactions before they reach my face. The reason for this is because I was one of only maybe two black kids in an all white town and there were periods of intense discomfort and emotional pain. If you let that pain show “they” won. Those experiences have built a callous over my visible display of emotions. This isn’t always a good thing as displaying emotion, even positive emotion isn’t necessarily an automatic response. However, when it comes to parents taking verbal shots it is a good skill to have. The following three strategies can be used to “thicken” your skin.
I had an episode where two children had been in an altercation. One of the students was suspended for a period of days. The mother disagreed with the suspension, and she brought her brother in and he asked what I would do if he slapped me in the face. I was also called all sorts of names. I reminded myself that I was in control and that I had all the power. They needed me. I didn’t need them. In using this self-talk I was able to regulate my brain state and recalibrate my body’s chemical reaction. Reminding yourself that you’re the principal is a great way to reduce the number of times you take things personally
The idea of counting to ten has some basis in science. If you actually give yourself time you can begin to eliminate the immediate chemical reaction you have to someone talking shit about you. In the book The Leading Brain, the authors talk about how your brain actually has the same physiological response to social discomfort as to real physical pain. By giving your body time to reset your prefrontal cortex has an opportunity to regain dominance. By allowing your body to do it’s thing and reset and stacking that on top of positive self talk you are less likely to take things personally for an extended period of time.
I don’t know if there are people who are predisposed to not take things personally. I do know that these strategies work well enough for me to not carry personal attacks for longer than a few minutes. Self-talk, reminding yourself that you’re in control and monitoring your internal clock and giving yourself time to recalibrate are both useful methods in appearing to have a thick skin.
What are other strategies you use to avoid having thin skin? Share your techniques in the comment section below.
If you found this entertaining, educational or cause for reflection please follow me and share with your friends.
For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the www.howtobeagreatprincpal.com and/or order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. You can also get a monthly email that delivers the most valuable blogs, as voted by readers, by joining the Principals’ Prep Minute. You can register right on the website.
If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur, on itunes and podomatic, episodes replayed weekly. If you’re interested in sharing your experience as an edleader please email me at email@example.com. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......