When your child leaves home for college, you may worry about losing contact. They will be living at college, and perhaps not returning home for several weeks or months, so you worry. However, with some effort on your part, your communication with your student may become even more meaningful than when they were home.
This post is the fourth in a series of five posts that may give you food for thought about how you communicate with your college student. Some of our suggestions are common sense reminders, and some may be new ideas for you. Obviously, communication skills are interrelated, so please consider all of these suggestions together. Our first post concerned how you listen to your student, our second looked at nonverbal communication, and our third discussed perception checking. In this post we consider how to ask the most helpful questions and how to apply some interviewing principles (yes, interviewing). In our final post we’ll look at how to frame some of your messages so your student may be more willing to listen. We hope that thinking about how you listen and talk to your student may help you to keep all of your communication doors wide open.
A conversation is not an interview, and we don’t like conversations that begin to feel like interviews — or worse, interrogations. However, those of us who have experienced well conducted interviews know that a good interview can feel like friendly conversation — and can elicit extremely helpful information. Thinking about, and applying, a few basic principles of good interviewing may help you make your conversations with your student more productive.
We don’t want to suggest that you should strategize every exchange with your student — that’s obviously not the kind of communication that you want. However, these principles may be most helpful when you need to have a serious or directed conversation with your student.