Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - 106

Relationships Matter
Often, RAs do not receive direct validation from their residents
for their efforts or simply may not understand how much they matter
to their residents. Supervisors must fill this gap in recognition, which
they can do by frequently challenging RAs to reflect on their experiences
and critically think of ways that they impacted, affected, and mattered
to their residents.
IMPLICATIONS
Implications for Practice
From a conceptual standpoint, it is important for practitioners who supervise RAs to
minimally have a basic understanding of the four components of mattering: awareness,
importance, ego extension, and reliance. Maintaining a basic knowledge of these
concepts allows practitioners to focus their intentional efforts, especially for RAs exhibiting
symptoms of burnout. Although untested, providing intentional support in
the various components of mattering-even in small ways-is a good place to start.
In individual meetings with RAs, supervisors should work to identify and process
casual interactions falling under the tenets of mattering that may easily get missed.
For example, a simple comment by an RA reporting that " several of my residents asked
where I was this weekend " creates an opportunity for the supervisor to reinforce how
the RA must matter to those residents because they expressed awareness of their absence.
As this study revealed, increasing the feelings of mattering-in this case, their
awareness-among individual RAs will have a positive impact on reducing depersonalization
and increasing personal accomplishment.
Since mattering is a direct function of interpersonal relationships, RAs would
benefit from training focused on developing enhanced relationship-building skills,
which in turn would reduce depersonalization and increase personal accomplishment.
One example of enhanced relationship-building skills is training-and expecting-RAs
to proactively and regularly share their own academic and personal goals
with their residents. Not sharing these goals denies residents the opportunity to share
and exhibit similar feelings about their success (ego extension), just as RAs share in
the successes of their residents. Sharing their failures and difficulties, while likely
more challenging due to the necessary vulnerability required, would yield similar results
as residents would have the opportunity to provide support and empathy. As a
function of their job, RAs often become friends with their residents (Everett & Loftus,
2011), thus reinforcing the bidirectional relationship between RAs and all their residents,
which serves to strengthen their social support networks, which in turn will
increase mattering (Dixon Rayle & Chung, 2007) and reduce feelings of burnout.
More generally, to ensure the recognition of mattering among RAs, supervisors
must also focus on mattering in their individual interactions with RAs. Often, RAs
do not receive direct validation from their residents for their efforts or simply may not
understand how much they matter to their residents. Supervisors must fill this gap
106 The Journal of College and University Student Housing

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2

Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - intro
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Journal of College & University Student Housing Volume 48, No. 2 - Cover3
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