Posted by themjames
In our work with today’s college students, one of the major themes that presents itself is the issue of communication. This manifests itself in a number of ways, whether it’s the “at your fingertips” accessibility to communication platforms, the steady decline in our students’ attention-spans, or the overall lack of effectiveness shown in the manner in which our students communicate with one another.
Over the last decade, roommate mediating has gone from a not-so-very-often, only when a situation was slightly extreme in nature occurrence, to something that is a very normal (and most times, easily preventable) part of our daily lives as college student educators. That isn’t to say that situations that understandably warrant our attention do not exist–because those can be just as commonplace these days–but how often as professionals do we see roommate conflicts that arise and explode simply because of a single misunderstanding which becomes exacerbated by the lack of face-to-face communication on the parties involved?
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and the advent of the text message have done wonders for providing “up-to-the-second” updates on the world around us, as well as the ability to initiate, develop, and maintain personal and professional relationships. However, these things have also led to the slow disintegration of understanding social norms and providing a space to “confront” issues without actually having to be in the same room with those involved. These are the facts and the realities that we as Student Affairs professionals face with our students each day.
Although we can mediate and educate our students about positive confrontation skills and ways to proactively communicate with each other when conflicts arise (a comprehensive collection of articles related to these topics can be found here), we need to start thinking proactively about providing resources and programs for the “Internet Generation.” After all, our mission as college student educators is to give the young men and women we work with the methods and tools to develop into successful leaders and productive members of society both on-campus and off.
What are some methods/approaches that you have used with your students in regards to improving communication skills and overcoming conflicts? Do you find that some things usually work better than others?