What do you do, when you don't know where to go or what to do next?
Confronting a new situation - what to do next?:
- Scan the environment for clues - what/where/who are the signposts?
- Actively look for an information point/contact-us point
- Join a queue (a peculiarly British thing to do, but it works in an airport....except when you find yourself in the non-EU queue)
- Find a person (virtual or real) with a badge - they must belong to whatever it is I need to get to know and have useful information
- Find someone ( a peer, someone in the same situation as you) and join forces and appear stupid together/or moan together
- Look for a map - where am I?
- Bury my head in a pillow in the hopes that it will go away
- Think long and hard about what the right questions are, to maximise useful information and save time
Other variables that mess with our heads:
- How much do you love being in a new situation?
- Do I prefer virtual contact to real life contact?
- How likely are you to have prepped before you arrive in the new environment? Is it easy to prep?
- Are you going to be a 'visitor' (no, I don't need to learn Italian for a one week holiday, though the odd word might come in handy), or a 'resident' (ok I really do need A LOT more Italian than I have). See Ned Potter's post about the Visitor/Resident discussion relating to social media.
- What web tools do I have at my disposal?
- How do I engage with others? Or is Google my best friend - always.
- How much new information can I absorb at any one time? - how quickly does the unknown become familiar?
- Am I a spatial person, and/or a people person? How easily can I fix things to a place, a face, a thing? How good am I at remembering names......
- How much time do I have at my disposal? How time-poor are we?
Talking to the right person - making life easy for yourself:
I am convinced that we spend significant amounts of time talking to the wrong people and asking the wrong questions of those wrong people. Take the current 'student experience' current issue in UK HE. We have allowed students en masse to jump up and down and clamour for the things they say they deserve, with institutions poleaxed in terror at the prospect of saying 'no you can't have that, we know what's best for you'. We bow at the altar of the NSS which is driving our changes in policy. This is an interesting phenomena. It's a bit like a parent of a 4 year old giving way to the tantrum and allowing the child to throw themselves off a wall just because THEY thing it's the right thing to do. And we feed this by constantly searching for how to improve the student/user experience by talking to the students themselves (the 4 year olds in my analogy), forgetting all the time that the academics who teach the students should be the first ones we talk to. I suppose this is just one example of how easy it is to communicate badly, forgetting who we should be communicating with and why. No wonder it all seems so elusive.