Your students can be on overload. It’s easy for them to get overwhelmed with choices and technology or to get confused with the college jargon. Sometimes they ask questions that on the surface seem ridiculous. For example, the second most frequently asked question of frontline cast members at Walt Disney World is “What time is the 3:00 parade?”  Cast members can respond in a sarcastic and condescending way or can listen for the need behind the question, empathize, and answer in way that preserves the guest’s dignity.

Here’s a couple of other silly questions that I’ve heard in different businesses: “How can I get money out?” – at a bank. “How much do I save with the two for one special?” – at a grocery store. What are some of your funny student questions?
Put yourself in your student’s shoes. Reply in their language, not confusing vernacular. Empathize when they don’t see the sign right in front of them or ask those seemingly silly questions. And when we as employees empathize, our demeanor brightens and we want to help. Our jobs feel important. Most essential of all, we never ever need to make a student feel stupid.

Seven Points for Managers to Review with Employees

1. What are the most common seemingly silly questions that are asked to employees at your institution?
2. What’s the question behind the questions from #1.
3. How are employees trained to answer these questions and handle the students’ emotions and behaviors?
4. How can you stay fresh and see and hear like your students?
5. What are the ways you can reinforce with your employees the importance of looking through the lens of the student?
6. What are ways you can treat students who are wrong, with dignity?
7. What jargon or internal speak should not be spoken in front of students?