Make a Connection
What I have found extremely beneficial to my growing as a student consultant is learning how to greet the student when they first enter for their consultation. I think this step can sometimes get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of getting everything in order to begin the consultation. And I know for me initially, it was easy to start concentrating on how the flow of the consultation would go that I would set myself and the student up for a bumpy ride. But to me this initial communication step is the first, and usually most crucial, step. And learning this has been a real eye opener for me because I find myself focusing more on making the student feel more comfortable and welcome when they first enter than I did when I first began working as a consultant. And I have found that by doing so, the rest of the consultation flows quite smoothly and the student seems to be more open to speaking up and communicating with me. I just find it fascinating how such a seemingly small part of the consultation process can have such a huge impact on the entire consultation. It also has a profound impact on the student and the consultant as well. It’s almost like it makes the students realize, “Oh hey, those consultants aren’t so intimidating after all...this could be fun!” So I have found that building that relationship with the writer at the very start, however brief it may be, can have a powerful effect on the whole.
I think you've noted something important that is indeed sometimes overlooked. While I generally try and begin sessions with a positive note, I don't always remember to. However, I do notice that if I can reach a person in a friendly way within the first minute or so, then we'll be more apt to have an open discussion.
I can't think of any specific example off the top of my head, but I can tell you what has worked for me: whenver I sit down with a student, I begin by asking how their day has been and if they have any questions before we start. Generally no one has any questions, but it puts it in their mind that I'm here to serve them, I hope.