My supervisor wants to get to know me


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So it has been almost a year now doing my PhD and I have been very discreet about my personal stuff to my supervisor;;; I just want to be professional and keep it that way. But during one of the discussions, the supervisor asked me to tell more about myself since he doesn't really know me other than me 'as a research student' and 'my work' - so it seems I'm all work to him lol.

I did tell the supervisor about me and slightly about my background (what I do during my spare time, random family stuff, etc) and the 'manner of my speech' (he found me to have a slight accent lol), he asked me more but I declined, but he joked not to worry and he's not judging.

Would this be a good sign? Any tips or advice is appreciated.


Personally, I don't see anything wrong with it, my supervisors know a lot about me and I know a lot about them so I'd say it's ok. But then, I know that they don't have '2nd intentions', well apart from maybe getting a few papers published from my research ;-)

Saying that, I can't help feeling that this is not the case with you or you wouldn't be concernced and asking the question?? What makes you think/feel that this may not be a good sign?


He's just being nice. It's a lot easier to get on with people when you know more about them and it can make small talk less of a pain. Your supervisor is just being a human being and trying to get to know someone that he spends a fair portion of his time with. It's not weird and probably has no ulterior motive. Why are you so averse to him knowing anything about you?


I am always amazed when people say they are starting to develop a personal (i.e. non-professional in the strictest sense of the word) relationship with their supervisor(s). I have never even considered anything like that, either here and now or in my previous work in industry. Having said that, most of my current office mates have some degree of personal relationship with their super (either meet for coffee from time to time, hitting the pub after 5 p.m. Friday or even dinners - not like that, well maybe like that, I don't know). It also seems that these people who develop a personal relationship have a bit of an easier time when things get rocky - rapport and all that I suspect.
Hmm, this may say more about my socialising and networking skills than I previously believed. I would have likely asked them what it has to do with the work at hand, yet most of my colleagues seem to find such an experience normal. But to the point, it is probably only a problem if you perceive it is about to cross some boundary that you are not ready to cross.


I wouldn't go for coffee with my sup or invite (or be invited) to social events, but I can have a chat now or then that may cover non-work things. The reason I don't go for coffee etc is because we don't have enough in common (I have very few 60 odd year olds I would go for coffee with anyway - we would tend to have different interests!).

I just don't understand why you would be so against a supervisor knowing anything about you? Surely the more they can relate to you the easier it will be for them to judge their remarks etc? If you are a jovial kind of person they may take a less formal tone for instance. If they know more about you they are more likely to actually like you too, which will help when you come into difficulty. They also would be able to understand if something in your personal life crops up that may impact on your work.

Basically I can't see any reason why being a closed book to your supervisor is advantageous.


Interesting thread. I can see both sides of it, because even though I would like a slightly more personal relationship with my supervisor, every time she asks me about something other than research I completely clam up.

Like Tt_dan (I'm guessing), I am naturally a private person and am VERY bad at small talk - even when I'm trying. It takes me quite a while to become comfortable around someone - especially when they are in a superior position to me. I just hope my supervisor perceives me as shy and not robotic!

Anyway, I think that it generally works in your favour if you can let them 'get to know you' a bit better, so I would try to make the effort. But, your sup may well take your hint and leave things as they are.


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Are you a very private person with everyone, or just him because he's your sup?

(Oops! I think Lughna and I posted simultaneously. It wasn't meant as a rhetorical question.):$


======= Date Modified 03 Aug 2012 12:34:36 =======
In case we have all forgotten, sups are humans too. The guy is working WITH you, not FOR you and is going to be spending a hell of a lot of time reading your work and guiding you. It's no surprise the guy wants to get to know you. More than anything sups are mentors and part of that is the pastoral care element, i.e., looking out for you as a fellow human being.


I think it just depends on the personality of the supervisor and the Phd student. I have one supervisor who is a very friendly and chatty young-ish man who I feel comfortable with, and occasionally we have meetings in cafes or quick lunches outside of uni where we discuss work but also chat about ourselves (nothing too personal, but friendly talk about things not directly related to my work). My other supervisor is 65+ and a professor who seems very busy and frankly is barely involved in my work. I send him work and occasionally get feedback from him (rarely is the feedback detailed or useful) - all in all he gives the impression that I am one student amongst many and honestly sometimes I think he doesnt even know my actual name, let alone how my research is progressing. I feel that the friendlier supervisor is more aware of my work, the ins and outs of my research, and fully appreciates all the hard work I have put in. A close-ish relationship I think is beneficial as I would not hesitate to ask for help if I needed it, and if I was having personal problems that affected my work I know he would be genuinely understanding.


Thanks everyone for the replies!

@Emma8704: lol, I think, I have somewhat of the same situation.

@Larrydavid: I completely agree Larry. They are humans too and I think I'm lucky to have a Sup that wants to get to know me better. But, I am, a rather private person; I tend to keep things to myself. The only time I know that I would share personal stuff is when I know it is not really important to keep it personally or something that I would like to share.

@Dalmation: Yes, I am somewhat of a private person really.

@Lughna: *high five*

@Screamingaddabs: I have learned from past experience that it's better to keep certain things to myself. I can discuss work and the problems that I'm facing, but not about personal lives. I don't know; it's just me I guess.

@Skig: Maybe I'm just being paranoid lol.

But thanks everyone for the kind replies : )


just be yourself, and if 'yourself' is quite reserved and private your supervisor will understand - you can be private AND friendly, no supervisior needs to know what you were up to on Friday night! share what you want with who you want. You never know, it might be beneficial in the future - I got a couple of teaching hours from my supervisor as it just sort of came up in conversation over coffee.
Good luck with both you supervisors!