Proactively Build Relationships by Michael W. Dabney & Meggin McIntosh

By admin
Feb 26th, 2014
You’ve certainly heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  It’s not that we subscribe to this in every way, however, on campus, when you want to be productive, it certainly helps to have proactively built relationships.  Here are some suggestions for doing so:
  1. Treat all students you meet with respect.  It doesn’t matter if they are students in your classes, students in the restroom, students who come in for advising, students wandering across campus looking for a building – treat all of them with respect.
  2. Treat all staff members (non-faculty) with respect.  The college or university could not function without the staff members who work there.  Be courteous, kind, thoughtful, and acknowledging.
  3. Treat the faculty within your department with respect.  We will grant you that some people make it more difficult than others, but make sure you are doing your part to be respectful.
  4. Go out of your way to meet the new faculty members who join your department.  Regardless of whether they are brand new (just out of graduate school) or full professor “stars” who have been hired from another campus, introduce yourself, check to see what they might need, try to determine what they might be still trying to find, and take steps to make sure they are meeting other people on campus and/or in the community.
  5. Be a strong members of the committees you have decided to be part of.  If you are chairing the committee, demonstrate leadership.  If you are a member, do the work you are asked in a timely fashion.  If you can’t live up to the commitment, let someone know as quickly as possible.
  6. Choose one unit on campus each semester to get to know.  If you have never connected with the people in Sponsored Projects, then get to know them.  If you have never been engaged with the Graduate School office, get to know those people.  If you have never gone to Buildings & Grounds, why not make it a point to do so.  You may certainly get to know more than one extra group each semester but deliberately connect with one.  Take cookies, a plant, a special item that represents their unit and what they do – and just walk in and get to know a few people.  There’s no need to hang out for half a day.  Your gesture will be noticed.
  7. Write notes to people who win awards or otherwise receive recognition.  It doesn’t matter if you have ever met them (yet) or not.  It will surprise the person who receives your note because you not only noticed that he/she had received an award BUT that you also took the time to acknowledge it.  It is sad how infrequently this is done and believe us, people will appreciate it and remember you.
  8. Treat administrators with respect.  On some campuses, people operate from an “us” against “them” mentality and that serves no one.  Even if there are some people who end up being “against” you in some way, consider each person individually not collectively.
  9. When you see people you know from campus and you’re off campus, if you remember their names, use them and introduce them to whoever you might be with.  If you can’t remember their names, admit it and ask to be reminded.
  10. Related to the previous tip, when you see someone on campus or off, and you aren’t close colleagues and/or friends, introduce yourself first, thereby not making the assumption that others remember you.  It’s very courteous to do so.

Life is about relationships.  Building strong relationships on your campus not only make life better, but they allow you to be far more productive, too.

© Michael W. Dabney & Meggin McIntosh

Michael W. Dabney, Emeritus
Hawaii Pacific University

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