Interpersonal Relationships

The Mental Wellness Task Force has pointed out that understanding how to communicate and develop relationships is key to success. This includes respecting and supporting others, sharing feelings and finding gratitude.

Our son had an issue with a roommate who was simply too talkative. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, “Jeff” consulted his resident assistant (RA) for suggestions on how to handle the situation. The RA listened intently and guided Jeff on a way to get the roommate to be more aware of the situation. After that, the issue was quickly and effectively resolved.

One of the first resources both parents and students think of when there are communication issues are RAs. Carl Kreiger, Director of Residential Life, says “Good RAs must be vulnerable about themselves and willing to share with other people. If they can share, it creates an impactful relationship and students are more willing to open up about themselves.”

Resident Assistants go through an intense training program where they are coached to address the many situations they will face. These range from roommate or peer relationships, to dealing with students facing serious personal issues. They are aware of, and utilize, resources available to help the students. Their primary focus is to listen activity and build relationships with every resident on their floor.

Academic advisors have also taken on the role of “active listener” in their daily work. Students may sometimes feel intimidated by professors, not knowing how to approach them with issues. Take the case of “Tom”, who had difficulty hearing and understanding a professor. Tom met with his academic advisor who gave him valuable ways to approach the situation so as not to offend anyone.

According to Sandra Monroe, Director of University Undergraduate Academic Advising, “Helping a student achieve his or her success is the most important role for an academic advisor.” While they are there for students, advisors are also a valuable resource for parents. Contacting an advisor with general questions can help parents understand challenges a student may be facing.

The role of the advisor is an ever-changing one at Purdue. While typically considered only for course scheduling, they may offer career direction as well. In addition, advisors are becoming primary resources by seeking to understand students and develop deeper relationships with them. Thanks to his advisor’s guidance, Tom was able to effectively communicate with the professor and get the issue resolved.

Strong interpersonal communication skills are essential not only to a positive university experience but throughout life. Purdue University is committed to helping students develop these skills with the help of resident assistants, academic advisors and other helpful resources. Please encourage your student to use them!

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