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Communicating Effectively as an Orientation Leader

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Stephanie Watkins-Cruz

on 10 June 2014

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Transcript of Communicating Effectively as an Orientation Leader

by: Stephanie Watkins-Cruz
Communication Effectively as an Orientation Leader: Understanding and Dealing with Differences
Communication: (def)
The process of transferring signals/messages between a sender and a receiver through various methods such as :
Non Verbal Cues
Spoken Words

*Communication is how relationships are established and modified.
How might the Freshman be feeling?
Overwhelmed by the new environment
Where are they coming from?
"Fresh out of high school"
Smaller Campus with more people
Out of state/Out of town
Home: Where all their friends are
A good experience/bad school experience
Communicating with Freshman
At Orientation, the incoming students are not the only ones that you will interact with. Your audience involves:
Freshman Parents
Transfer Parents
Transfer Students
Post Baccalaureate
Each category represents people who are coming in with different mentalities, experiences, as well as concerns and issues. Part of being an Orientation Leader is being able to communicate effectively with each of these categories through realizing their differences and needs and adapting to cater to them.
Ask the question:
Where are they coming from? What might they be feeling or thinking? WHO am I talking to?
Your Audience at Orientation
There are 5 types of conflict "resolvers"
Dealing with Conflict: Resolving Effectively
Being an Orientation Leader at UNC Asheville is not just an on campus job. It is an important position that assumes responsibility for the transition in to college for over 700 incoming students.
Whether we are dealing with Transfer/Post Bac students, Freshman, or their parents, we serve as the primary spokespeople for this institution. The incoming students WILL remember their experience good or bad, and for some it will determine not only how well they do at UNC Asheville, but if they even decide to stay at UNC Asheville.
Being an OL is a bigger deal than you think.
What is Communication?
What makes Communication "Good" or "Bad" ?
Why is Good Communication important in the case of Orientation?
Communicating with Transfer/Post-Bac Students
Communicating with Parents
Good Communication manages to get the point
across, and Bad Communication manages to either do the complete opposite of what you wanted and/or create and new conflict for you to deal with. This is what makes communication so important, it affects everyone and can determine what we learn, feel, and even think.
Orientation Leaders are the first leaders of the University that get the chance to interact with the incoming freshman.
This experience can MAKE or BREAK their impression of the university.
How might the Transfers/Post-Bac students be feeling?
Bored because they've been to another Orientation before this one.
Nervous because their past institution might not have worked out.
Curious to know the way UNC Asheville works.
Where are the Transfer/Post Bac Students Coming from?
Another institution where they either received a degree : Associates or even Bachelors, or are leaving because a variety of reasons : Money, Bad Experience, proximity to something of importance etc...
Some have NEVER gone to college and are deciding to attend which means they are traditionally older and have more life experience than freshman do.
Why does"age" matter?
Because transfer students are traditionally older and have either been in school or the work force longer, it is important that we take into consideration how we speak to them. So it's important to remember:
No talking down to them
They are still new students, don't underestimate the amount of questions they might have.
They aren't as energetic as the freshmen are about Orientation.
It is important to be more mature and speak appropriately around them.
Recognize that most want to receive the information and leave.
If you don't know the answer it is important to be able to direct them to the right resource
Transfer Parents
Freshman Parents
Communication Skills- NOT just a verbal thing
Sometimes Conflict Arises
Introducing: "Emotional labor"
Everyone is listening to what you're saying, but they're not just looking, they're also watching. Your body says a lot,
"body language"
can impact how you come across as a leader, and thus influencing the experience that the incoming students and their parents have.

Body Language can be subtle or completely obvious in the way you talk, stand and sit. It lies in the pitch of your voice, the tone and rate of speech. Through understanding and becoming more aware of your body language you'll be in a better position to communicate more effectively.

Some aspects of Body Language include:
Posture--------Stand up tall, shoulders back
Eye Contact-----Smile show engagement
Gestures----use hands and arms purposefully
Speech-----Slow and Clear
Tone of Voice
Not as worried about their students
A little less attached at the hip
There for support
Allows the student to speak for themselves rather than for them
Usually more preoccupied with financial aid .
Are nervous and anxious about leaving their child with us.
Are anxious about all the pre-Orientation steps that they had to take and are wanting to find out more information about the school.
Some parents will be calm because it is their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time bringing a child of theirs too an Orientation, however there are still some that are not calm because it is their first, or simply because they're still in parental worry-mode.
What you do as an Orientation goes beyond physical or mental duties. It often requires that you connect with people and that takes emotional energy as well.
-Show a genuine concern for the needs of the incoming students: smiling, and positive expressions, and eye contact are essential.
When you engage in emotional labor you're controlling your own feelings in order to better fulfill the goals and expectations of the incoming students and the orientation program.
What does this mean?
-Express only your positive emotions, keep your negativity to yourself
-Learn how to manage your negative feelings
-Learn how to create or express an appropriate emotion for the situation.
With that being said...remember...
Non Traditional
Might have kids, outside jobs or commitments
More Experienced in both life and school
Adults who want their classes and prefer to be in-and-out after receiving their educational info.

*Non-Traditional Transfer Students might make you feel "small" since you're younger, however it is important to be confident and assertive, while being mature and respectful.
Value their time: be prompt, be professional, and don't waste their time.
Aren't that much older than you or the average student at UNC Asheville.
Are coming from another institution usually with an Associates degree.
Also aren't as anxious and nervous as the freshman are.

*Due to the lower energy of transfer students, you might feel discouraged or as if they aren't listening to you. They're listening, and it is important to try and keep them as engaged as you possibly can. The information you're giving is important for them to hear.
As an OL you are representing UNC Asheville
As an OL you are these students first impression...don't ruin it, inform them and allow them to develop their own opinion.
Negativity as an OL is counterproductive.
As an OL you have to know the population you're serving, and work accordingly.
If you don't know the answer to a question, be able to direct people in the direction of a person or office who can.
As an OL you must use your leadership skills and styles to effectively resolve conflicts .
Let's Talk about it
Intent v.s Impact
Communication within this team
Setting Boundaries In social Media
Direct them to correct information...don't guess
Conflict with a Student???
Be able to recognize an issue or problem in your small group. Is there someone causing everyone else in the group to be distracted? Are they talking back? Are they being disrespectful?
Step up as a leader and communicate with them appropriately.
Call one of us
Assert yourself but back yourself up as well, communicate with us even if you have already solved the problem.
We are still in recruitment mode!
Don't be Fooled, First Impressions DO MATTER
Orientation is a moment in time where all first impressions can and usually end up being extremely influential. It is important to be mindful of this when you're carrying yourself and leading your group. This experience is the first of many that they will have, which makes it that much more important for them.
Be respectful of the fact that they haven't experienced UNC Asheville as much as you and be wary of "putting your two cents in" too much. This too could ruin a first impression, not only of you but for the University.
got beef?
Communicating within a team setting
It's important within a team setting to maintain good communication. It isn't going to always be bright and sunny. Attitudes will flare and conflict might occur. Some important things to remember are:
Respect your leaders
Respect each other
Speak your mind
Gossip hurts it doesn't help, if it's addressable, confront the person the beef is with, don't spread the negativity.
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