Let me first begin with an editorial statement: "Be careful of concluding that meetings must be formal and planned. Most of a principal's meetings are spur-of-the-moment and often one-on-one." Let me share a short example provided by Howard Behar in It's Not About the Coffee.
Listen for the Meaning Below the Surface
One time a person on my team came to me with a problem she was having at work. As she explained her struggles and feelings, I tried to figure out what exactly was bothering her. Her emotions were soon clear to me - or at least I thought they were clear - as she began to cry. I went around the desk to give her a hug and reassure her, thinking that was what she wanted and needed from me. But I had gotten the situation all wrong. She absolutely recoiled. She wasn't sad. She was angry. She didn't want be to do anything other than listen and acknowledge the truth of the matter. She went on to tell me the issues that were causing her grief. I had to wait and let her tell me what she meant. True listening is creating a space for people to tell you what they mean.
Please Hear What I Am Not Saying
"Don't be fooled by me. Don't be fooled by the face I wear. For I wear a thousand masks, masks that I'm afraid to take off, and none of them are real. Pretending is an art that is second nature to me, but don't be fooled...... Please listen carefully, what I'd like to be able to say, what for survival I need to say, but what I can't say." Charles C. Finn, from "Please Hear What I Am Not Saying"