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Academics > Advising > The Don'ts of Academic Advising
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 say.
  • 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 understanding.
  • 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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