Good is a lousy answer. I don’t mean to say that I am a perpetually dissatisfied person. There are times and places where good is a reasonable answer. We want things to be good. We want to feel satisfied and content. Thinking back to my visit with the Amish last week, a sense of contentment is a driving force of their lifestyle choices.
However, thinking back to my days as a school psychologist, I simply was not willing to accept good as an answer from the students that I worked with. It simply did not tell me enough.
When I approach a student to ask how things are, good tells me absolutely nothing. It’s the answer that you give when you just don’t want to bother going into details. But, as a school psychologist and now as an administrator, I don’t ask that question lightly. I want to know more than just this blase’, surface level response that we often get from students.
Expecting more than a one word answer, however, has the potential to open a Pandora’s box. Are you ready for a more detailed answer and how are you going to respond? If you hear things that you didn’t want to hear or didn’t expect to hear, will your response be to jump down the student’s throat or sit back and listen to what they have to say?
One of the hardest lessons that I learned when I was training in counseling was to be silent and just listen. Staying non-reactive is hard, but if good isn’t enough for you, it is the only path that you can take that will keep your students, or your children, letting you know what lies beyond the good.
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