Negotiating the line of communication is an important skill for educators to understand and master. It is not one often learnt sitting in a university lecture, but can be observed during practicums. Those students lucky enough to witness the conversion of conflict to understanding and resolution benefit greatly.
I find analogies and stories helpful when attempting the impossible; trying to explain complex issues to anyone in advance of an experience. Creating, for them, a memory that will resurface at the right moment is my goal! The way I describe the process of negotiating 'difficult parents' is as a tennis match - competitive versus friendly games. In a competitive match players seek to ace the opponent, and return balls are merely setting up a winning shot. Players watch the opponent carefully, observing slight movements, and responding aggressively when a weakness is revealed. In a friendly match players the goal is almost the same- to win, but not at any cost. They use observations to maintain a rally, and return balls without aggressions, more to challenge the opponent than destroy them, and without spoiling the enjoyment of the game.
If teachers take this analogy on, they can see each conversation with a student as a rally, an opportunity to use their observations to engage the student, and demonstrate knowledge and skill without creating any self-doubt in the child's mind. It works well with parents, also.
Actors use similar methods. They observe, consider options, wait for the right moment and then deliver their lines to achieve the desired effect. The more familiar they are with the characters and personas on stage, the more keen their observations and impressive their timing. Could it work for teachers? Isn't each classroom full of theatre, and every teacher on a stage!
I wish I had been able to explain communication this way to my student teachers when I was in the role of in-school mentor.