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Lead with Kindness, Empathy, Brain Tricks

Pearls of Wisdom
By Dina Sonbol
Lead with Kindness, Empathy, Brain Tricks

For over 30 years international school leaders, teachers, and counselors have come together for PTC professional learning experiences. Each day of every program begins with a “pearl of wisdom,” a “nugget of knowledge,” or a “gem of inspiration” from one of the participants. We are delighted to offer our readers around the world these powerful stories, insights, and strategies, all dedicated to our shared mission of ever more and better learning for our children.  


In this Pearl, Dina she shares how difficult conversations are better discussed when the brain is not in panic mode, and we can trick the brain into a sense of calm using Milton Ericson’s concept of mirroring, or even better, a nice meal. She says that one essential function of the human brain is to protect the body from danger. The brain automatically does that by responding through the autonomic nervous system that triggers the fight or flight response. However, she goes on to say that, scientifically, the brain cannot receive two conflicting messages at the same time so, “you can’t be running away from danger and having a snack at the same time.” So, when you’re eating or drinking, the whole brain calms down.

Ultimately, she says, the goal is to build trusting relationships with those who have chosen to walk into your office. In order to do this, you must “lead by serving others with kindness, empathy, and a couple of brain tricks up your sleeve to help you with doing that.”


Professional positions cited were the ones held at the time of recording. The positions and schools of those quoted may have since changed.


Dina Sonbol is the Vice Principal of the American International School of Egypt.

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