Your relationship with your dissertation or thesis advisor is important. Both the quality of your graduate school experience and even the success of your dissertation depend a lot on how well you work with your advisor. As cliché as it is, communication is the key to any good relationship—even (or especially) an advisor/advisee relationship.

Dora Farkins recently wrote an article about how to effectively communicate with a thesis or dissertation advisor based on her experiences as a graduate student and working with graduate students. Here are some of the most important take-aways:

Be Assertive

Farkins emphasizes the importance of finding a balance between either passive or aggressive communication. A passive communicator seeks to please other people, but doesn’t give his or her own needs enough attention. An aggressive communicator is focused on her or his own needs, but neglects others’ needs. An assertive communicator balances the two approaches: she or he is attentive to others’ needs, while simultaneously standing up for her or his own.

Be Positive

Begin every conversation with your advisor on a positive note. Farkins notes the importance of kicking off advisor/advisee communication with good news about your research, a compliment, or even thanking your advisor for her or his time. Professors are busy people, so make sure that you create a positive space where you can get things done with your dissertation advisor.

Be Prepared

Come to meetings with a clear agenda. Farkins is clear that she does not mean this abstractly; preparing a numbered agenda before you meet with your advisor is paramount. Clarity is key for getting the help you need with your dissertation. Your advisor will be most able to help you if you are able to effectively define what it is you need help with.

read the full article here:

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