What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writing consultant? Well, for me, and I’m sure many others, the hardest part is being confident in your consulting skills and in what information you are passing on to the writer in need.
I have been working in the writing center at Illinois Central College for almost a whole semester now, and my lack of confidence in what I am doing is what has tripped me up the most. This lack of confidence keeps me from doing my best as a consultant, which leads to desperate writers not getting the help they need and deserve. For this reason, I have decided to give some tips on boosting confidence, so that other consultants or tutors that are suffering from this same problem can maybe benefit from them
Before entering into a consultation, take a deep breath and just look at the person you are going to be working with; that is all they are in fact: a person. They are not a ravenous lion. They are not an angry snake. They are not a wasp that will sting you first and ask questions later. In fact, they are probably just as scared as, if not more scared than, you are. They probably view you as more than a normal person because of this job that you have, so why be afraid of them or what you have to offer them? All of us humans are made up of the same stuff, so before walking into a consultation, just take the time to look at the PERSON you are going to be working with, and remember that.
When it comes time for you to go over to the table or desk or wherever the writer is waiting for you, strike up a conversation with them before diving into the paper or assignment they are working on. Introduce yourself, and ask them how they are doing. Whenever working with someone or being in close proximity to them, it is always important to get an idea of who they are and what they need from you, especially if it is your first time meeting them. This getting a grasp on who they are will help alleviate some of the mutual fear on where this consultation will go and what will be taken from it.
If at some point in the consultation your brain freezes up or you don’t know how to approach a subject, never hesitate to ask someone else’s opinion. Now, if your confidence in yourself is already low, why would you want to ask for help from someone else? Doesn’t that just make others think that you are as not equipped for this job as you feel you are? No! That is just your low self confidence speaking! Chances are person around for you to ask would be happy to help. The fact that you are asking them a question on something you are not sure of would just tell them that you are trying to be the best that you can be and that you accept that you don’t know everything. It wouldn’t make them look down on you; if anything, they would look up to you a little for being brave enough to ask for help or advice. Just like the writer, anyone you would ask for advice from is a person just like you. So, don’t sit in the consultation going “um” and “uh” if you get stuck, ask for help!
There may come a time in your writing consultant job where your boss will observe you in a consultation. This by far has been the time when my confidence hits rock bottom, and I am on edge about messing everything up, people hating me, and the sky falling, etc. The fact of the matter is that this person observing you is just a person, as mentioned about people above, and they are really only observing you so that they can tell you what areas you need to improve on and/or to tell you the areas of the consultations you are doing awesome at. Why is everyone so afraid of self improvement? It is really one of the best things about being human: we can change! We can get better! We don’t have to always stay the same. This person observing you is just an agent in this improving process, and they just want to help. So, go through your consultation like you normally do, and if it helps, just block that observer out and pretend they aren’t there. You would be surprised at how many people you can impress by not being afraid of moving forward.
Many writing centers require their writing consultants to write daily or weekly blogs. I know that when I first started, I had no confidence in what I was writing in my blogs. It is worrisome because what if you don’t write what you are supposed to? What if you just make yourself look foolish? What if everyone laughs at what you are saying? Well, what if you help someone by what you blog about? What if you change someone’s view on a topic? There are many good things that can come out of your blogs, so why just focus on the unrealistic negative? Just write about what you are interested in or even what you struggle with. You would be surprised at where your mind can go if you only give it a chance.
Well, hopefully these tips have been helpful in some way or another. There is no quick fix to the low self confidence epidemic, but I believe time is a great healer of all things including this. My hope is that these tips will help the amount of time shorten. The last thing I want to say is believe in yourself and your abilities like the people that hired you do. Keep in mind that you obviously got the job because someone had faith that you could achieve what they were asking you to do. Never give up on yourself.