A few weeks ago, I wrote my post about how I really wanted to start connecting with my residents and I found that it works for the kids in my immediate hallway, but not so much for the whole dorm. I have learned that trying to balance being an authority figure and being a friend is not an easy thing to balance.
I have spent an extreme amount of time this week trying to make better connections with all of the residence in my hall. I had been told that I am kind of scary when I yell at people. Honestly, who isn’t? But on the other hand, I can see why people see me as….more intense that others. I am a pretty straight forward person so when I say “HEY no skateboards in the resident halls” or “guys remember that it is quiet hours, keep it down” I can see why some of the residence are a little bit afraid of me, but that is all they see of me. They do not know me on a personal basis like my residence do. So in an attempt to make myself less “scary” I have dedicated my learning this week to my people skills.
I have made it my goal to smile and say hello to every single resident that I walk past at every point of the day. I’m a little worried that they think that I have lost my marbles, but I want them to see that I am friendly, not just the person that tells them to abide by the rules. It is almost exhausting smiling so much every day. Holy cow, my cheeks hurt! I think that everyone thinks I have started popping happy pills! (Totally untrue, just a reference.)
I have also been told that I am an unapproachable person because I always look mad. I just have a crabby looking face, but I am almost never crabby. So I am trying to smile more for that aspect. Really working the face muscles. I have also made it a point to not “yell” at people for things, but try to joking in a serious manor (if that makes sense). For example, instead of “it is quiet hours keep it down” I have tried “Hey guys I just wanted to remind you that it is quiet hours in a few minutes, be as loud as possible for three minutes while you still can!” And then people yell and scream for a few seconds and then quietly retreat into their room. So far, it is working.
My biggest fear with my “personality change” is that I don’t want students to think that I am lax with the rules. I am afraid that they are going to see me as the RA that jokes all the time and that they won’t take me seriously and listen to me anymore. I have learned that there has to be a balance between being a rule enforcer and being a friendly, approachable person!