Encouragement is a big deal, right? I just completed an online class that used Blackboard Collaborate. If you aren’t familiar with it, you really just need to know that we were capable of chatting via instant messenger for the purpose of this post. It does far more than that, of course, but the conversations online are the focus here.
There are a couple of people in my class who made a strong effort to encourage everyone else. They sent, “Hey! Great job!” or “That is a good point!” regularly. In the middle of the semester, our professor commented for the first time on it. “You’re all very encouraging of one another. I like seeing that in the chat room. It takes me back to my graduate student days. Faculty don’t treat each other that way for some reason.” A quick Google search made it appear even more bleak; professional encouragement in higher education is largely absent, despite our go-getter attitudes.
Is this strictly a faculty issue?
Short answer: no. The remarks about the lack of encouragement in academia threw off my train of thought for a few minutes that evening. “Why do faculty members not encourage each other?” I thought. It also struck me that non-faculty professionals in higher ed are also guilty of this. In college, we learn the importance of collaborating with peers to get by, and even to succeed, both in and outside the classroom. We have been taught since
day one gold star #1 that encouragement is crucial to positive emotions. Why is it that once we walk across the stage, we leave our collaborative spirits behind?
I have asked a few people about their thoughts on this issue, encouragement in academia and student affairs, and the consensus is that the individual stakes are just too high to stop and pat someone else on the back. Goals have to be met, strategic plans must be implemented, and research questions don’t answer themselves. I get it. However, one does not need an advanced degree to know that a simple, “Hey, you’re doing great!” can boost a person’s mood and even self-efficacy.
As we take the rest of 2016 to relax and reflect, I want to ask you all to do the following. Consider it as part of your other duties as assigned in your contribution to higher education. I want you to compliment someone in higher education. Tell someone that you noticed how hard they worked this semester. Show interest in his or her work and let them know that they’re doing great. Offer advice! Whatever you deem appropriate, just do it and never stop collaborating in a genuine way. If you are wearing blinders and focusing solely on your journey, you’re not getting the most out of the field.
Do not mosey through your career and land at a point where you reminisce on the days when people were encouraging of one another.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Kyle James on Student Leadership Careers