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Most people think of communication as talking, but there is much more to communication, especially if you want your communication to be effective. For example, people communicate in different ways, such as verbally (speaking, talking) and non-verbally (hand gestures, facial expressions). Also, communication involves listening, or taking in and interpreting information, as much as it involves talking, or sending information out for someone else to interpret and understand. Effective communication is essential to your academic success. It is very important to understand effective communication techniques so that you can use them to communicate at UT (both in person and electronically) with faculty, staff, and students. See the tips and resources below to ensure you know the basics of communication, as well as how to communicate at UT.

In this section, you will learn about:

  • How the university expects to communicate with you.
  • How to improve communications with your peers.
  • How to appropriately advocate for yourself in the context of the university.

Important Contacts:

Conflict Management

Ever said something you wish you hadn’t? Ever had your feelings hurt by a friend’s sharp remark? Conflict is an inevitable and necessary reality. Whether it stems from a dispute with your roommate or campus staff, there are a few easy tips you can follow to ensure that conflict is resolved while also learning something along the way. If viewed in the right light and handled with care, conflict becomes not a negative but a positive experience through which you can grow as a student and as a person.  Review the tips and additional resources below to ensure that you know how to manage conflict appropriately.

Conflict Management Tips

Listen before you speak

Try to understand the other person’s perspective

Speak in an appropriate tone of voice

Strive for collaboration and compromise

Try to come up with creative solutions to the problem. If you become frustrated or angry, take a break from the discussion until you are calm

Treat others as you would like to be treated

Shape your communication to your intended audience. In other words, you may want to speak in a professional tone to your Professors and UT staff while using an informal tone with your roommate.

Pay attention to both your verbal and non-verbal communication. Ask yourself if your tone is appropriate, if your hand gestures are distracting, etc.

Listen as much or more than you speak.

Avoid making assumptions and try to summarize what you have heard before you shape a response.

Write professional and appropriate e-mails to UT faculty and staff.


Student Conduct and Community Standards 

Housing FAQs

Conflict Management Tips

Talking with Instructors

E-mailing Instructors

Building Better Relationships 

Communication Styles

During your time at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville you will have the opportunity to develop new and long-lasting relationships with peers, professionals, and faculty. Familiarizing yourself with different communication styles can help you navigate these new relationships as well as increase your self-awareness of how you communicate with those around you. Understanding the ways that individuals instinctively communicate can help you connect with and better understand individuals. The resources below review communication styles and can help you identify your individual style while reviewing the different styles of those you communicate with on a daily basis.


Communication Styles Handout

Communication Styles Inventory


Unlike high school, college students are expected to speak up for themselves: to ask questions, to ask for help, to add critical and creative thought to the academic community. Self-advocacy is an essential part of being a student, and it isn’t always easy. If you find yourself struggling with course content, ask questions in class or make an appointment for your Professor’s office hours. If you are having a hard time studying or understanding your assignments, seek assistance from resources like the Student Success Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Life. If you have a problem or are struggling at UT, talk to your support network and make use of resources such as the Student Counseling Center. Finally, if you see someone else in need of help, be his or her advocate, too. UT has many resources available to help with all of these concerns.

Self-Advocacy Tips

  • Take responsibility for yourself and your success
  • Think positively and expect good results
  • Learn about and utilize UT and other resources to help you succeed

Self-Advocacy Resources

The Counseling Center The Pride Center
The S.E.E. Center The Student Success Center
Talking with Instructors E-mailing Instructors

Technology Expectations

How do I register my laptop for advising sessions? How do I access the internet from my personal computer? What do I do if I forget my NetID and/or password? The Office of Information Technology (OIT) can help you with these questions and more. Refer to the below resources for any and all technology needs. Be sure to review expectations related to official UTK technology usage.  Remember, OIT also provides free training on software and technology!


OIT Home Page

Computer Labs


University Expectations

As a student, you have rights and responsibilities, and understanding both is an important step on your path to success. For a full review of student rights and responsibilities, see the resource list below.  As a part of effective communication, be sure that you understand the University’s expectations expressed through publications such as the Undergraduate Catalog and Hilltopics, and address any questions you may have to the appropriate resources.

Questions to Consider

Review the below questions and be sure that you answer yes to each one. If you answer no, talk to your FYS 101 Instructor about the best campus resources to follow up with.

Have I read and understood the resources listed below?

Do I know and understand my rights and responsibilities as a student?


Academic Calendar Campus Safety
FERPA and Student Rights Hilltopics
The Undergraduate Catalog Volcard Office
MyUTK OneStop
UT Mission & Vision