Housing Forum Teaches Students to Communicate Effectively in a Household

The on-campus housing staff hosted an effective communication forum on Sept. 30 in the Eccles A. Conference Center to help students learn how to communicate effectively within a household.

All Southern Utah University students were welcome, but the resident assistant staff encouraged those who are living on-campus to attend the forum.   

Communication Professor Jonathan Holiman led the forum by discussing effective ways to communicate within new relationships. Holiman explained that new relationships could potentially lead to conflict because people have different desires, motives and goals. 

Holiman began the discussion by introducing “climate change.” The professor explained that every person carries around a climate with them. 

“Climate is created by how and what we perceive our lives and relationships to be,” he said. “Every relationship has a climate, and we have at least one relationship that could use climate change.”

As many of those who attended the forum were first year students, the on-campus staff and Holiman reassured the students that having relationship problems within the dorms is normal. 

The students who attended were in common agreement that the most significant problem was having roommates who failed to wash their dishes and clean up after themselves. 

In order to combat these issues, Holiman explained the four communication styles. People can be passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive. Holiman used the dishwashing example in each situation so students could see which personality type they were. 

RA Kyler Harrison was enthusiastic for students to attend this forum. “The purpose is to teach freshmen how to communicate effectively with their roommates,” he said. “I think it was beneficial for the students to learn that being passive-aggressive is the wrong way to communicate.”

Holiman showed a clip of “Mean Girls” that captivated the audience. The students were able to watch the clip and point out passive-aggressive examples during the scene. 

Abbie Pitts, an SUU freshman, was excited to attend the forum. “I thought it was fun to learn about the different communication styles,” she said. “I got to see people who live on-campus and off-campus attend this event.”

Holiman has been participating in this forum for five years and this was the best turnout he has seen. “There were way more students tonight than in the previous years,” he said. “It was a full house.”

Holiman continues to come back each year because of the students. “I love interpersonal communication,” he said. “Helping students build relationships and adjust to college is so important.”

When closing the discussion, Holiman encouraged students to be honest with themselves and to learn how to give positive feedback while being assertive. The best way to handle communication problems is to be straightforward when directly expressing thoughts and feelings.

Story and photos by: Lexi Hamel