I’ve always been a quiet person, and part of that was avoiding difficult conversations. Even if it was something that needed to be brought up — like me needing help in class — I would just keep my thoughts to myself and let whatever was happening to me just happen. I had no confidence in myself.
Over time, however, I found that not having these necessary conversations can do more harm than good. You end up harboring resentment toward your teacher, which can impact your studying and affect your grades. And when you’re in college, you don’t have your family to step in on your behalf.
You don’t have to be a dominant, overbearing person to address difficult topics. I’ve learned from experience that you can get through them by just being yourself. Here are some pointers to use when having a hard conversation with a teacher or professor:
- Plan out what you want to say: Before you meet, it’s important that you sort out what you want to say. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing anything important that needs to be said.
- Document: Make sure that you write down word for word what happens at the meeting. The more you’re able to document, the better it’ll be for you. Documentation is your friend.
- Talk to your counselor or advisor: If you have a counselor or advisor, try to give them a heads-up about the problems you’re having with this teacher or professor. They won’t talk to them for you, but they can usually point you in the right direction for how to handle it.
- Meet with a dean: If you’re in college, and all else fails, then talk with the dean of your college. When meeting with the dean, plan what you say (refer to the first bullet). This is your time to tell your story, so don’t leave anything out.
- Follow up: If you don’t follow up on these conversations, your needs will end up being forgotten. Don’t let this happen — make sure that you’re heard.
Sometimes difficult conversations have to happen to find common ground. Hopefully, the next time you encounter a problem with a teacher or a professor, these pointers will help you navigate it.
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About the author
About the author
Atira Roberson is a community organizer for the National Center for Learning Disabilities and serves on their Young Adult Leadership Council.