Attendance Works is pleased to announce our part in a new book from Simon & Schuster. Ask For More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything, by Alexandra Carter, is a guide book to help individuals “advocate for what you want, without arguing or changing who you are.”
The book, published on May 5, explains how using questions opens the door to communicate more effectively in any discussion. Carter begins with five questions anyone can ask themselves, before they sit down to talk. The goal of these questions is to get at what is actually causing the dispute or the challenge. Carter calls these five questions “The Mirror.”
Part of the work involved in The Mirror is taking time to define the problem, especially in “big, long-standing, or complicated negotiations.” Carter showcases our Executive Director, Hedy Chang, to illustrate how defining the problem helps move people towards a solution. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
“Traditionally, people looking at the problem of chronic absence tended to focus only on what was called “truancy,” or unexcused absence from school—meaning days when students did not have a parental note excusing them from class. This one-sided definition of the problem assumed inappropriate student or family behavior, and often led to a kneejerk, punitive solution: penalties for both students and parents in an effort to force better behavior. But the penalties didn’t work.
“When Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, sat down to define the problem, she didn’t focus on unexcused absences and suspensions. Instead, she defined the problem as kids missing significant amounts of school for any reason. Indeed, in the early grades, she found that many at-risk students were accumulating excused absences, meaning that focusing on truancy wouldn’t catch the problem.
“With that problem definition guiding her, Hedy encourages schools to uncover the actual problems preventing kids from attending school by talking with kids and parents. These efforts have led to unexpected solutions.”
Carter describes one barrier preventing kids from attending school: a lack of clean clothes. The solution involves providing clothes-washing services at school for students. Read the full excerpt about Attendance Works.
“As this example shows,” Carter writes about Hedy, “if you’re dealing with a big or complicated negotiation, it’s critical to define your problem. Knowing the problem you want to solve will give you a roadmap for the conversation you needs to have.”
Excerpted from Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything by Alexandra Carter. Copyright © 2020 by ABC Resolutions, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All Rights Reserved.