> The Don'ts of Academic Advising
- Don't talk too much. You can't
listen while you are talking.
- Don't fail to empathize with the other person.
- Don't fail to ask questions. When you
don't understand, when you need further clarification, when you want
him/her to like you, when you want to show that you are listening. But don't ask questions that will embarrass him/her or show him/her up.
- Don't give up too soon. Don't
interrupt the other person; give him/her time to say what he/she has to
- Don't fail to concentrate upon what he/she is
saying. Actively focus your attention on his/her words, ideas, and
feelings related to the subject.
- Don't fail to look at the other person. His/her face, mouth, eyes, hands, will all help him/her to communicate
with you. They will help you concentrate, too. Make him/her
feel that you are listening.
- Don't show your emotions. Try to
push your worries, your fears, your problems outside the meeting room. They may prevent you from listening well.
This includes controlling your anger. Try
not to get angry at what he/she is saying; your anger may prevent you
from understanding his/her words or meaning.
- Dont' miss 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.
- Don't fail to share 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.
- Don't argue 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.
- Don't fail to listen for what is NOT said. Sometimes you can learn just as much by determining what the other
person leaves out or avoids in his/her talking as you can be listening
to what he/she says.
- Don't jump to assumptions. They can
get you into trouble in trying to understand the other person. Don't assume that he/she uses words in the same way you do; that he/she
didn't say what he/she meant; that he/she is avoiding looking you in the
eyes because he/she is telling a lie; that he/she is trying to embarrass
you by looking you in the eye; that he/she is distorting the truth
because what he/she says doesn't agree with what you think; that he/she
is lying because he/she has interpreted the facts differently from you;
that he/she is unethical because he/she is trying to win you over to
his/her point of view; that he/she is angry because he/she is
enthusiastic in presenting his/her views. Assumptions like these
may turn out to be true, but more often they just get in the way of your
- Don't classify 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 he/she says into what
makes sense coming from the type of person. He/she is a
Republican. Therefore, our perceptions of what he/she says or
means are all shaded by whether we like or dislike Republicans.; 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.
- Don't make hasty judgments. Wait
until all the facts are in before making judgments.
Adapted from Example University
Academic Advising Handbook from the NACADA website.
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