Having been a Writing Centre student consultant for 3 years at AUK, it surprises me that there are many techniques and skills that I can still learn in order to become a better consultant. Having read the material provided to student consultants by the Writing Centre staff members as part of our training, I chose to highlight upon the importance of nonverbal communication. Jennifer Arnold's piece of writing enabled me to stop and think about my body language during appointments with students. Arnold mentions the negative message that crossing arms communicates to the student by stating that crossing arms "is a defensive gesture...feeling defensive is extremely unpleasant." I realized that I often sit with my arms crossed when the students I am consulting are doing the talking or reading their work. Although it is tempting to cross my arms since they are left unoccupied while I am not talking, it communicates the wrong message to the student. I may not only seem defensive, but I may look also look bored and disinterested.I conducted a small experiment by deliberately crossing my arms during one half of a session then uncrossing them for the other half. I immediately realized that the student became more engaged while my arms were not crossed. Therefore, this concludes that if the consultant looks bored, the student too will be bored. If the consultant looks interested, the student too will be interested in the session.
I hope this insight helps all those who want to master the art of consultancy!