I was teaching a class recently to a group of educators on how to flip a classroom, and I thought that would be an ideal time to weave in a conversation about social contracts and the Communication Maxims.
Laying the framework
I decided to set the tone of the class by talking about how important these maxims are in all facets of communication. I explained all of Doc’s maxims and then said, “I’m sure we can all agree that those would be useful here too, right?” I added, of course, that these maxims are useful in all arenas of life. From there we proceeded on and had a wonderful day.
Then, something interesting happened. Any time the group discussed a conflict they anticipated having with a co-worker, parent, or student, we ended up coming back to the Communication Maxims. I didn’t intend for that to happen, but it became evident that all of the situations we discussed could be neutralized if we applied the maxims to the situation.
The big lesson
I think everyone in the room felt more capable of handling the anticipated conflicts. Matter of fact, several of them won’t even experience the anticipated conflicts because we’ve talked about how to neutralize the tension before it becomes a problem. If I hadn’t started with that conversation, I think the teachers would have felt more anxiety because they didn’t have the right mindset.
For me, that might have been the first time I ever thought that people were safer because I was in the room simply because I understand a little bit about tactical communication. There’s no doubt that the fundamental concept to understand would be the Communication Maxims.