I have attached a picture of my office from the student perspective. I have always felt it is important to have an office that is warm and inviting, and free of clutter. I try to keep the paper piles to a minimum and off to the side of my desk.
Other things I do to Disarm the student:
Always greet them by name in the lobby and usually shake their hand and tell them it is nice to meet them or nice to see them again. If I can’t pronounce their name (a lot of international students) I will ask who is here to see me, then ask them to pronounce their name for me and do my best to repeat it. I think this helps relax them in that I care about getting it correct and I want to be able to call them by name. If they give me a nickname, I note that in peoplesoft and make sure I call them that at the next appointment.
I invite them to sit when they enter my office, and ask how they have been (how was your break, how was last holiday, how is semester going). I follow up by asking how I can help them.
When talking with students I will ask what their commitments are outside of school. This allows them to talk about work, family, children, etc. It helps me understand all of their commitments and how to help them build a balanced schedule and discuss possible challenges. I also ask what they are involved with on campus, which allows me to refer them to different activities and events if they are not at all involved.
I really feel like I am building relationships with students by asking these questions and I try to refer back to things they have shared with me when we meet again to continue to connect with them.