The importance of supervisors’ personal skills

I have just read the post on The Thesis Whisperer, When good supervisors go bad… and I am speechless.

The doctoral journey is already a lonely, hard and stressful period in life which can become a real nightmare without the support of your supervisors. Particularly, we, international students, are the most vulnerable group of students because of the different variables our life is subjected to; being ‘loneliness’ one of the most influential.

Personal skills are fundamental in our daily life and interactions with other people… we are human beings!! However, some people seem to have poorly developed their personal skills. Regarding supervisors, these personal skills need to be a must! Sometimes people forget they are dealing with human beings not with numbers, diplomas, publications… with HUMAN BEINGS. If your supervisee is not doing well, or doing things as you expect as a supervisors, instead of putting aside, why not asking and supporting?

Also, intercultural skills are essential… You should not impose any type of behavior, study technique, approach to learning/writing a thesis as a supervisor. First try to understand the cultural background of your supervisee and try to make both connections and contrasts between both cultures. I know many supervisors are too busy with their academic life but hey, human relationships should be a priority in Education…

Education has been dehumanized, and that is really sad and negative…





  1. lsantamaria2014 · October 2, 2014

    Dearest Elba-Kiwinka: I concur with your feelings as communicated wholeheartedly and my heart sank sank sank when I read your post. Um, maybe we need to have a coffee? We academic-administrator-scholarly-research types are busy, true. But heartless? Hardly. Maybe I am too generous a soul… but I believe Supervisors in general (my colleagues after all) have a responsibility to nurture, support, and humanize your academic journey. I don’t want to infringe on another colleague’s mentee, but I sincerely hope I am able to connect with you in some meaningful way to redeem the ‘dehumanization’ of doctoral and higher education. You were right on the money in your thoughts about intercultural and cross-cultural acumen. Folks need to consider a more complex world with different world views in order to make this journal relevant to 21st century global villagers. Yes, even at the academy. I refuse to be a part of such a ‘color-free’ ‘culture blind’ institution.


    • antipodakiwinka · October 4, 2014

      Querida Lorri, thank you so much for your comment! I’d love to have a coffee! You’re completely right but let me add that supervisors/professors/professionals like you make the educational world a better place because you know how to balance ‘knowledge’ and ‘humanity’. I didn’t want to generalize because that’s just unfair. I was just basing my post on my own experience as a student and a lecturer across the globe. Particularly here, I’m experiencing both humanity and dehumanization which made find the The Thesis Whisperer’s post so revealing. Human beings need to understand that intercultural interactions are positive and enriching, and a process of personal and human growth. Diversity is good and recognizing diversity is crucial. Specially at the academy, and using the terms you used, people should get rid off the ‘color-free’ and ‘culture blind’ “principles”. Again, THANK YOU, GRACIAS for your post.


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