HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

Perceiving Others

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Recently I encountered an individual who appeared to be opposite from me in every way possible. Everything from political views to food preferences this individual and I disagreed. I immediately took a disliking to him because he disrespected my viewpoints and dismissed my knowledge and opinion because it did not agree with his own. Basic human respect and honesty, I learned, are of no importance to him as he condescendingly bombarded me with words without bothering to listen to my responses and even blatantly lying to get attention. I abhorred the sight of him and would constantly argue with him praying that eventually I could persuade him to even glance at my perspective. Normally when I encountered people of this sort I avoid them at all costs. But because of his relations with people close to me, I found myself in his presence nearly every day and became more and more miserable.

However, after some pondering and quite a few instances of losing my temper I realized that by behaving the way I was, I was more similar to him than I’d realized. I attempted to dial back on my aggression and attempt to see things from his point of view. I gained a lot of insight and in learning more about his background I learned why he behaved so disrespectfully and did not concern himself with other’s feelings and opinions. He strove to such great lengths for attention because he lacked it much earlier in life. This knowledge made me more empathetic towards his character and I began to find better ways to communicate with him that did not lead to arguments and anger. Although I had to swallow my opinions and values when I spoke to him, I was able to find things we had in common and could talk about without causing issues.

Although I don’t particularly like this individual and certainly would not attempt to spend time with them, I learned how to treat people with respect, even if they do not treat you with the same. I do not expect to like everyone I encounter in life, but I would like to be able to communicate with people I do not relate to whatsoever. This experience as taught me a lot of how others upbringing and history shapes who they are, and with some effort and control you can have pleasant conversation and get along with people who you would not expect to.

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