By Tamir Moore
DCCC held a virtual workshop on Zoom titled “Difficult Communication – Practical Guidance in an Impractical World” March 3, as part of the Navigating Leadership Workshop series.
Eight students attended the event, hosted by Charles Schnur, director of Student Conduct. Schnur has been with the college for nine years.
During the workshop, Schnur highlighted how poor communication impacts various interpersonal conflicts that Schnur sees every day.
“A lot of this boils down to miscommunication or poor communication, and I think even many of today’s issues in society come down to poor communication.”– Charles Schnur
Allyson Gleason, DCCC’s director of Campus Life, said she was excited about the workshop’s attendance. Gleason, who also attended the workshop, noticed the above-average attendance in the virtual workshop format.
“We average four to eight students for the workshops in person,” Gleason said.
Gleason felt it was important to offer the workshop because conflict is inevitable every day.
“Communication is an important skill,” Gleason added.
The workshop began with Schnur explaining that he had 13 ideas to present to the students to become better communicators. Schnur said he initially had 10 ideas planned for the presentation but incorporated three more ideas the night before the presentation.
Then he briefly described his own communication struggles with the audience. “Communication does not come naturally for me,” Schnur said. “I’ve struggled a lot and made a lot of mistakes over my time in my roles as a professional and as a husband.”
Although Schnur mentioned that the word “hate” is strong, he used “hate” in an example to describe how he feels about public speaking.
Schnur also stated that confrontation is something else that he dislikes. However, in Schnur’s role as director of Student Conduct, Schnur is forced to confront students. While working at four-year residential colleges, Schnur described confronting intoxicated students at 2 a.m. in the morning.
At the beginning of the presentation, Schnur discussed a series of steps students could take to become better communicators.
First, Schnur explained how practice could help make a challenging or uncomfortable situation more manageable. To that end, Schnur described how practicing public speaking in his own life allowed him to conquer his public speaking fears.
“I did the presentation last night for one of my religious groups,” Schnur said. “I’m actually on an alumni panel later this afternoon for my graduate program.”
Next, Schnur encouraged students to remain focused on the prize. Schnur spoke about three things in this section: good grades, individual careers, and personal life.
To further illustrate this point, Schnur mentioned an example of how he focused on the prize.
“My wife and I met the old-fashioned way: online,” Schnur said, adding that when he first met his future wife, distance played a significant factor. At the time, Schnur was in Philadelphia, and his future wife was in Connecticut.
Schnur talked about how their relationship progressed from there.
“But in reality, in order to marry a woman, I have to actually go talk to a woman,” Schnur said. Despite Schnur’s dislike for long telephone conversations, he said that he and his wife had a phone conversation that lasted for several hours.
“Do what you need to do,” Schnur said.
Later, Schnur talked to students about praising in public and criticizing in private. Schnur told students that praising in public consists of one saying positive things about someone else without the other person minding a brief spotlight on him.
Schnur explained to students that grievances that one posts about someone else can come back and haunt them later.
“Keep in mind that social media is not private,” Schnur said.
Towards the end of the presentation, Schnur presented three scenarios to the audience and asked how students would handle them.
The first scenario concerned a student spending lots of good quality time on her midterm paper, conducting some research, and working alongside a Learning Commons tutor. The student ended up with a B- grade.
A second scenario featured a person being elected president of a club and having new members disrupt club meetings to veer them off topic.
Katrina Ptakowski, a healthcare management major, offered her views about this scenario.
“I would try to redirect the conversation,” Ptakowski said. “If I was on the Zoom, I could private chat.”
A third scenario was about a work-study co-worker leaving a mess in a work area.
Towards the end of the presentation, students shared their own experiences with communication strategies.
Gleason said that the Navigating Leadership series is continually evolving. “I always view the Navigating Leadership Workshop series as changing,” Gleason said.
In the future, Gleason hopes to have the workshops be asynchronous because that will allow students to view the workshops at their own time and pace.
“In the future, we will make sure to tailor the content to our students’ needs,” Gleason said.
Contact Tamir Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org