Confrontation is a means to a desired end. It can be overwhelming for new Resident Assistants and a bit nerve-wracking for mature RA’s, but the solution to overcoming such anxiety can be found in the knowledge of “How to Confront”.
This outline aims to set a standard and present the steps one might want to follow when handling situations that involve confrontation with residents. A RA faces a vast number of incidents that may range from alcohol to quiet hour violations. Sometimes, the RA merely alerts residents of quiet hour violations that may spawn into other violations. For instance, a simple quiet hour warning may become an alcohol violation.
Like many other incidents involving confrontation, the ripple effect of one confrontation is almost always never anticipated and hence a RA ought to be prepared, just like the Boy Scout.
Prior to confrontation with any resident, a RA should first acknowledge that his or her duty is not to impose judgment on any individual involved but rather document a situation in detail to the best of his/her ability. The rest is up to professional staff.
So what do you need to know before you make contact with violators?
- It is always good to make sure you have a plan; know what you intend to achieve in any possible situation.
- On approaching the scene clear your voice and be confident because otherwise, your nervousness is likely to show.
- Have your pen and paper ready.
- Next, knock at the door or approach the individuals.
- Speak calmly, clearly, confidently and respectfully but remain firm.
- Make sure your questions or statements are succinct. For example, “are you drinking?”
- Maintain eye contact.
- All the while relax and remember that you are in a position of authority.
Tips to consider while documenting a situation:
- Try as much as possible not to handle everyone in the room at the same time; try to separate the guests if any, from the residents. This will enable you to have more control over the situation.
Below is a simple scenario that serves as a guide to the above strategies:
What a RA should use when confronting should depend on the first reaction you get from the student/students you are documenting, however this does not mean that if they are raising their voices you should too. Through out my time as a RA, every single person I documented has ultimately turned out to be a friend; it may be sheer luck or strategy. I like to think of it as a strategy.
The knock on the door comes with either a statement or questions depending on the situation. For instance a quiet hour violation will start with a statement similar to “Hey, how are you doing? Can you guys keep it down please?” Remember that showing respect to your residents will inevitably bring you the same respect.
However, during the confrontation of an alcohol violation I will, after the knock on the door, start with a question “Are you drinking? “ This approach will either give you a “yes” or “no” answer. If it is a “no” then you are to ask the resident if you can come in. However, if the person says “yes” then as the RA, explain that you need to enter the room to document the situation.
As I have told new RA’s, confronting is an act and your residents see what you show them. If you show them that you are nervous and scared then that’s what they’ll see and they will use it to their best advantage. You should try to remain calm and composed. Speak confidently and respectfully.
Why should the art of effective confrontation be mastered?
For those who think that confrontation will only be useful for the one or two years of being a Resident Assistant think again. Once you graduate and enter the work environment, you will inevitably be faced with issues that will need to be addressed via confrontational skills. The skills you learn now will help you in the future, and you will benefit greatly for having mastered the art of effective confrontation.
Submitted by Phil Amoa, Resident Assistant, Gwynedd-Mercy College