Academic Advising

academic advising

Handbook - The Dont's of Academic Advising

  • Talking too much. You can't listen while you are talking.
  • Not empathizing with the other person. Try to put yourself in the advisee's place so that you can see what the advisee is trying to get at.
  • Not asking questions. When you don't understand, when you need further clarification, when you want to show that you are listening. But don't ask questions that will embarrass your advisees, or show them up.
  • Giving up too soon. Don't interrupt the other person; give your advisee time to say what he/she has to say.
  • Not concentrating on what your advisee is saying. Actively focus your attention on the student's words, ideas, and feelings related to the subject. 
  • Not looking at the other person. The student's face, mouth, eyes, hands, will all help him/her to communicate with you. They will help you concentrate, too.  Make your advisee feel that you are listening. 
  • Smiling and grunting inappropriately. Don't overdo it. 
  • Showing your emotions. Try to push your worries, your fears, your problems outside the meeting room. They may prevent you from listening well. 
  • Not controlling your anger. Try not to get angry at what your advisee is saying. Your anger may prevent you from understanding the student's words or meaning. 
  • Using distractions. Put down any papers, pencils, etc. you may have in your hands; they may distract your attention. 
  • Missing the main points. Concentrate on the main ideas and not the illustrative material; examples, stories, statistics, etc. are important but are usually not the main points.  Examine them only to see if they prove, support and define the main ideas. 
  • Reacting to the person. Don't let your reactions to the person influence your interpretation of what your advisee says. The student's ideas my be good even if you don't like your advisee as a person or the way he/she looks. 
  • Not sharing responsibility for communication. Only part of the responsibility rests with the speaker; you as the listener have an important part. Try to understand. If you don't, ask for clarification. 
  • Arguing mentally. When you are trying to understand the other person, it is a handicap to argue with him/her mentally as he/she is speaking. This sets up a barrier between you and the speaker. 
  • Not listening for what is not said. Sometimes you can learn just as much by determining what the other person leaves out or avoids in talking as you can be listening to what the other person says. 
  • Not listening to how something is said. We frequently concentrate so hard on what is said that we miss the importance of the emotional reactions and attitudes related to what is said. A person's attitude and emotional reactions may be more important than what the person says in so many words. 
  • Antagonizing the speaker. You may cause the other person to conceal ideas, emotions, and attitudes by antagonizing the person in any number of ways: arguing, criticizing, taking notes, not taking notes, asking questions, not asking questions, etc. Try to judge and be aware of the effect you are having on the other person. Adapt to the other person.  Ask for feedback on your behavior. 
  • Not listening for the advisee's personality. One of the best ways to find out information about a person is to listen to the person talk. As the person talks, you can begin to find out what the person likes and dislikes, what the person's motivations are, what the person's value system is, what the person thinks about everything and anything that makes that person tick. 
  • Jumping to assumptions. Assumptions can get you into trouble in trying to understand other people. Don't assume that they use words in the same way you do; that they didn't say what they meant; that they are avoiding looking you in the eyes because they are telling a lie; that they are trying to embarrass you by looking you in the eye; that they are distorting the truth because what they say doesn't agree with what you think; that they are lying because they have interpreted the facts differently from you; that they are unethical because they are trying to win you over to their point of view; that they are angry because they are enthusiastic in presenting their views. Assumptions like these may turn out to be true, but more often they just get in the way of your understanding. 
  • Classifying the speaker. It has some value, but beware. Too frequently we classify a person as one type of person and then try to fit everything the person says into what makes sense coming from that type of person. At times it helps us to understand people to know their position, their religious beliefs, their jobs, etc., but people have the trait of being unpredictable and not fitting into their classifications. 
  • Making hasty judgements. Wait until all the facts are in before making any judgments. 
  • Not allowing recognition of your own prejudice. Try to be aware of your own feelings toward the speaker, the subject, the occasion, etc. and allow for these prejudgments. 
  • Not identifying type of reasons. Frequently it is difficult to sort out good and faulty reasoning when you are listening. Nevertheless, it is so important to a job that a listener should lend every effort to learn to spot faulty reasoning when you hear it. 
  • Not evaluating facts and evidence. As you listen, try to identify not only the significance of the facts and evidence, but also their relatedness to the argument.