Our staff is here when you need it most.
It is the expectation of all members of the Housing & Residence Life staff to actively engage and become familiar with their residents throughout the academic year. This is to help residents feel there is support and a resource when they need it.
It is expected that all interactions with residents have intention behind them, even if that intention is to simply learn more about the residents and build relationships. Successful staff members will build questions into interactions so they do not feel structured or “fake” for the residents while continuing a conversation. Other intentions for conversations include gauging mental health, educating them (e.g. cleanliness or how to do laundry), or ensuring students feel connected in times of need. Common examples of how our staff interacts with students:
- Going to dinner together
- Attending campus events as a hall
- Watching movies/shows
- Playing games
- Taking walks
- Developing a class schedule
- Joining an intramural sports team
Active Listening Skills:
Active listening is an integral part of interactions as they assist in building quality relationships with others through validating experiences and empathy between individuals. The OARS guide on active listening is helpful in promoting these conversations.
- “O” - Open Questions invite others to “tell their story” in their own words without leading them in a specific direction. Open questions should be used often in conversation but not exclusively. Of course, when asking open questions, you must be willing to listen to the person’s response. Open questions are the opposite of closed questions. Closed questions typically elicit a limited response such as “yes” or “no.”
- “A” - Affirmations are statements and gestures that recognize client strengths and acknowledge behaviors that lead in the direction of positive change, no matter how big or small. Affirmations build confidence in one’s ability to change. To be effective, affirmations must be genuine and congruent.
- “R” - Reflective Listening is a primary skill in outreach. It is the pathway for engaging others in relationships, building trust, and fostering motivation to change. Reflective listening appears easy, but it takes hard work and skill to do well. Sometimes the “skills” we use in working with clients do not exemplify reflective listening but instead serve as roadblocks to effective communication. Examples are misinterpreting what is said or assuming what a person needs. It is vital to learn to think reflectively. This is a way of thinking that accompanies good reflective listening. It includes interest in what the person has to say and respect for the person’s inner wisdom.
- “S” - Summaries are special applications of reflective listening. They can be used throughout a conversation but are particularly helpful at transition points, for example, after the person has spoken about a particular topic, has recounted a personal experience, or when the encounter is nearing an end. Summarizing helps to ensure that there is clear communication between the speaker and listener. Also, it can provide a stepping stone towards change.