How to manage difficult behaviour in seminars

Photo by Ming Jun Tan on Unsplash

‘Wow, they’ve been talking for a long time, I wish they’d give someone else a chance to speak…but I don’t want to seem rude.’ 

‘Hey, they just interrupted that person. And I really wanted to know what she had to say!’ 

‘I mean they’ve got a good point, but they that was a really rude way of saying it’ 

‘I wish those two would stop just talking to each other and include the rest of us’ 

Working with others isn’t always easy and sometimes it’s just straight up difficult. And if you regularly take part in seminars or tutorials, chances are that you’ll eventually encounter some behaviours that make it difficult to get the most out of the situation, or that just seem plain rude. But it can be hard to know how to respond when there are people dominating the conversation, or not giving enough space for others to speak or interacting in a confrontational way. You might feel like you want to address the behaviour but don’t know how to do so without creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. Or you might notice yourself doing some of these things every now and then – we’re all human and we all pick up bad habits every now and then. 

If any of this sounds familiar, check out the link below to hear WDC tutor Nicky talk through some strategies for managing unhelpful behaviours in seminars and tutorials. 

Add remember, if you want to discuss seminar participation with a friendly, professional tutor you can always book a 1-2-1 appointment with the WDC!

How to contribute effectively in seminars

 “I think I’ve got the start of an idea, but it’s not really fully formed yet…can I just say it anyway?” 

“No-one’s spoken for a really long time, how can I get a discussion going?” 

“I think this person has a great idea, but doesn’t seem very confident in it – I wonder how I can help?” 

“I really disagree with what that person said, but I don’t want to sound rude…maybe I just shouldn’t say anything…” 

 Sometimes you know what you want to do in a seminar, but you’re just not sure how to do it. It’s easy to spend so much time wandering how to contribute that you miss your opportunity to do so altogether. Or you might find yourself so worried about doing the wrong thing that you end up not doing anything at all.   

Although there isn’t necessarily a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ way to participate in seminars, there are some approaches that you may find more effective than others. You’ll likely find that throughout your time at university you’ll gradually develop your own approaches to seminar participation that work for you. But it can also be useful to have a couple of strategies to fall back on when you’re not sure what to do or if you’re still new to seminar participation. 

 Check out the link below to hear WDC tutor Nicky build on the Speculating, Enabling and Challenging framework we looked at last time and provide some strategies for how you can effectively enact these behaviours. 

And stay tuned for more videos on seminar participation. Next up we’ll be looking at some strategies for dealing with unhelpful seminar participation. 

How do you participate in seminars?

“I’ve got something to say, but I just don’t know how to say it. What if I say the wrong thing or forget what I was going to say halfway through? I probably don’t know as much as everyone else here, anyway. What does that word even mean? Should I look it up or keep listening? What am I supposed to be doing anyway?“ 

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Let’s face it, whether they’re online or in-person, participating in seminars and tutorials can be tricky. You might find it quite unnerving or intimidating talking in front of your peers or a tutor. Or maybe you find it easy to speak, but that it’s difficult to get a conversation going. Or maybe you’ve got things that you want to say, but don’t know how to enter the discussion.  

Well, if any of this sounds familiar than the Academic Skills Team have got you covered. We’ve been working with our colleagues from Newcastle University’s Counselling Services to put together a whole lot of resources, strategies and tips for effectively participating in seminars.  

Check out the link below to hear Academic Skills Team tutor Nicky talk about the Speculating, Enabling, Challenging [SEC] framework for seminar participation and how it can help you get the most out of seminars. 

And stay tuned for more videos on seminar participation. Next up we’ll be looking at some concrete strategies for doing each of these things in a seminar.