Roadblocks in communication

Lately I’ve been asked a lot by students how they make and maintain relationships. Not just intimate ones but friendships, family, roommates, and their peers in classes. When I stopped to think about it this a question that comes up all across the year but seems more frequent right now at the beginning of semester and the prospect of new friends, peers and living arrangements are here. I wrote about making friends and how to build healthy relationships last year so this time I thought I might focus elsewhere.

Whilst I usually try and focus on the positive with tips of what to do on here I thought today I might post some of the things to avoid when establishing and maintaining relationships*.

  • Judging the other person – either through criticising them or their actions, applying a stereotype to them, telling them what you think their problem is, or giving them praise like parents and teachers do to encourage a change in behaviour.
  • Offering solutions – either by giving someone direct orders to follow, threatening them with the consequences of not doing what you want, or by advising them on what the solution to their problem is.
  • Avoidance of their concern – pushing aside the person’s problem, offering a logical explanation and ignoring the emotional factors, or offering reassurance to try and stop them feeling the negative emotions they are experiencing.

These roadblocks can diminish someone’s self-esteem, lead to feelings of inadequacy, social withdrawal, trigger defensiveness and feelings of resentment which can damage the relationship. Using roadblocks from time to time is OK, natural even, but using them consistently and it’s likely to lead to a head on collision and the relationship being a “write off”.


*If you are interested in reading more about relationship and communication skills then try People Skills: how to assert yourself, listen to others and resolve conflicts by Robert Bolton.

Ryan’s tips to becoming a successful student

On the weekend I had the pleasure to attend for a short period of time the Back to Study preparation day held for students who are returning to study after a break. When reflecting on the first time I attended this event last year I recalled a student who at the time had given up his job to return to study in the hope of realising his dream of one day working overseas. At the time, despite his nerves I remember thinking that he had all the hallmarks of someone who was determined to succeed. So I thought I would track him down and have a chat with him about how the first year had gone and get his tips for becoming a successful student.

Ryan’s tips for becoming a successful student

  1. Get involved in ILEAD – even if you don’t complete the program it will give you an opportunity to make new friends.
  2. Enroll for all your compulsory subjects for the year during semester 1 and get first choice of class times rather than settling for what’s left by waiting for semester 2 to enroll (You can always make changes closer to the semester if things change).
  3. Take a tour of the campus before classes start and find your classrooms and the general geography so you can be helpful when other people ask where things are (again you might make a new friend this way).
  4. Attend PASS classes because the leader has already completed the subject and has useful feedback about what lecturers and tutors are looking for.
  5. Create cheat sheets for exams even if they don’t let you take them in. The process of creating the sheets will give you an opportunity to consolidate your knowledge and revision that will be helpful during exams.
  6. When you get your exam timetable spend the time finding the locations before the day of the exam – it’s one less thing to stress about on the day.
  7. Prepare yourself for group work – the inevitable stressor of your program. Be prepared for an assignment to take longer than you think because you are trying to collaborate. Be proactive and start early and if you’re having trouble getting your group members to cooperate don’t wait until the last minute let your lecturer or tutor know early so they can help resolve the issue.
  8. Don’t stress too much – things will seem daunting at first but you will get used to the new environment and processes and before long you will settle into a routine.

So there you have it Ryan’s top tips for becoming a successful student. You might be thinking did these work? Who is this Ryan? Well let me tell you he is getting HD’s and D’d with only one C and nothing below that. He has made lots to quality friends through his contact with ILEAD and has been involved with an overseas study program already. So far he is exceeding his goals and living the dream!


Looking for support…

It’s that time of year again when we prepare to start semester 1. For all those who have just accepted an offer and will start their studies this year, welcome. For those who will be continuing welcome back. I thought I might take the opportunity before semester officially starts to put together a post on what services are available for students here at UON.


In addition to the online services (which you are using right now – take a look around) there are also face-to-face counselling options. Professional counselling services are available to students, to offer strategies and support to assist students to reach their personal and academic potential.

Disability Support

Offer practical assistance and advice to students with a permanent or temporary disability or medical condition. They can help you if you are having difficulties with your studies due to the effects of your disability. You need to register with the Disability Support Service and provide appropriate documentation.

Health Service

We provide medical centres staffed by doctors and nurses at our Newcastle (Callaghan) and Central Coast (Ourimbah) campuses. Our medical centres are similar to a general doctor’s surgery and are open to both university students and staff. We are happy to see you about any issue that concerns. All consultations are strictly confidential. Patients covered by Medicare are bulk billed. International students may be covered for medical services depending on your health cover.

Financial Assistance

There are options to help you cover the costs of study while at UON. You can make an appointment with a student support advisor to discuss scholarships, Higher Education Loan Program, student loans and hardship grants and income assistance options.


Our career services and resources have been designed to assist you in developing the capacity to achieve your career goals. Whether it is gaining part time work while you study or clarifying your longer term goals and connecting with industry, there is a service or resource that will fit your current career needs.


There are chaplains at both the Newcastle and Central Coast campuses, which offer compassionate help in all situations and support the spiritual life of the University. Things they help students with include pastoral care, life decisions, conflict resolution and general spiritual guidance. They also offer Justice of the Peace services.

Student Support Advisors

There are a few different types of Student Support Advisors. Some are part of the Student Advice Team and are located in the Student Hubs on Callaghan campus. They are here to answer your questions and to help you access the support that is available at UON. They can work with you to create an individualised plan aimed at helping you to succeed in your studies, or provide direction on your enrolment pattern and progression, or put you in touch with your Program Advisor if you need specialist program advice and support.

There are also Student Support Advisors (Health and Welfare) offer 30 minute appointments to help you identify what support services are available to assist both at UON and also within the local community.

Accommodation Assistance

We have a website and staff member who can help you with assistance finding and advice about off campus accommodation and rental agreements.

Or if you are interested in on campus accommodation then you can get more information from the Student Living Support Team.

Legal Advice

What more is there to say other than UON offer a free legal service for students and members of the community? Pop-up clinics and appointments are available to help with advice and additional services may also be offered when appropriate.



The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to
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