HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

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An example of an agentic friend could be a teammate or a friend that tutors you. In the example of the teammate, you both are coming together to meet a common goal of playing on the same team and trying to win. If your friend can tutor you, then you are spending time together to achieve that practical goal. Examples of communal friends could be friends that play game nights together or a close study or book group. In both of these examples you are spending time and doing activities together and possibly offering emotional support.

Communication does vary with the two different types of friends. For agentic friends the communication implies the goal that is trying to be achieved. If your friend is a tutor, maybe your text message thread is just about finding a time to meet up for the lesson. At the lesson there would be small talk but nothing more personal. In fact, it is usually considered inappropriate to participate in emotion-sharing with agentic friends. For this reason there is less self disclosure with agentic friendships.

In communal friendships, since there is a focus on emotional support, there is more emotion sharing and self disclosure. The activity is sidelined for the communication happening between friends. Since there is a closeness in communal friendships, small talk is passed quickly. A good example of communal friends is the show Community. The show is about a group of community college students in a study group for their Spanish class. They quickly become like a family and the running joke is that, when they meet, they don’t even study Spanish. Instead, they share stories and experiences together.

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managing conflict and power #6

After completing the self-quiz on Power-Distance, I was scored as a Low Power-Distance person. In hindsight, I could have figured this out from analyzing my experiences with conflict throughout my life. But on the quiz it was very decided since I didn’t agree with hardly any of the statements they laid out.

My score suggests that I don’t view power as consequential unlike high power-distant people. This is true in my life. It’s not like I don’t respect people with power or that it means nothing to me, rather, I believe that people in authority can and should be questioned and challenged. For me, people with power must be questioned exactly because they have power. There must be a check on their authority. So, for the specific question on the quiz that went something like, “you believe that respect for authority is the most important thing you could teach your children,” I disagreed; I would rather teach them respect than the unconditional respect for authority.

My score also suggests that I engage in conflicts with powerful people, and that I easily confront them. This is also true in my life, though it does depend on the person in power. In my history of conflicts, more than a few have been with parents, teachers, and coaches. This shows that I don’t avoid conflicts with those in power. However, when it comes to interpersonal power rather than authority figures, I find that much trickier to navigate. If a friend were to wield their social network currency or intimacy currency in an unfair way, I might not bring it up because it’s scary to be powerless in those situations.

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Verbal communication #8

Since I’m a native english speaker I agree that I cannot personally say I know what it feels like to have a language of mine be at risk. However, I am aware of language extinction because it is taught in history and it sometimes even makes it to the news. I am thinking of a specific article in the National Geographic where they sent a team to the Amazon to find the last man that spoke an indigenous language. Even though this isn’t something that affects my ability to communicate directly, it still presents a big problem overall and even a big problem for individual people. With languages dying out, there is culture being lost. Like the textbook said, language is informed and informs culture. It defines groups and creates community. So if a language goes extinct, then the entire culture and way of life of a people is threatened. This is tragic in and of itself, and it also presents a problem for everyone in the world. It’s a problem because that means there are less perspectives being shared and our world view won’t be as nuanced or expanded as it could be. It’s important for us to interact with people who see the world differently because that’s how we learn and grow.

The last question is really interesting because it’s something I’ve never thought of. I think that speaks to the privilege of having English as my secure language because that ensures the security of a culture of mine. It’s hard to imagine if English was endangered. I imagine that I would be scared because I use English to be understood and to navigate the world. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to explain my thoughts and ideas or articulate my feelings. I might feel sad too because there are so many personal emotions attached to a language. Like the idea of personal idioms, there are many words or concepts in English that I would feel like would be lost. As such, I would be sad that there would be no one to share those things with anymore.  

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Emotions Prompt 9

I would describe my emotion sharing as reserved. I don’t usually share my emotions with people nor do I like doing so with just anyone. However, I find it easier to share my feelings with people. I think I don’t share my emotions with people because I’ve always suppressed them and was never graced with or taught the ability to identify my emotions or communicate them. As a result, I usually kept them to myself unless I really had to disclose something.

That doesn’t mean I never share my emotions, though. I will usually share my emotions with the people closest to me, with mental health professionals, or with doctors. The people closest to me would be my sisters, my best friend, and sometimes my mom. When I go to counseling, I feel safe enough to talk about my emotions as well.

Generally, sharing my emotions has a positive impact on me and my relationships. After I talk with someone about my emotions, I feel much better and lighter, like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders. The relationship also improves because we can connect over emotion-sharing and engage on a more honest level. Since I’ve used suppression as an emotion management tool for the better part of my life, I still find emotional conversations with those closest to me to be very hard. But, I know the importance of opening up and being honest with people, so I try to engage in these interactions with those I care about. I noticed that it’s sometimes easier for me to share my emotions with professionals because I can distance myself more and it can be less personal since I don’t have a personal relationship with them.

Throughout my life, I’ve learned the value of sharing emotions and have gotten significantly better at communicating and identifying them with others. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m glad I know the importance of emotions and emotion-sharing. I’m also very grateful to have people in my life I can talk to.

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Perceiving Others #4

One conflict where punctuation mattered was an incident involving my sister this past year. The incident was actually funny and was never a source of serious tension for us. That being said, our understanding of the conflict was fiercely debated, each of us trying to defend our pride. It happened early last year when we carpooled to my school and her work. It was early in the morning and cold in the car, so we were quite grumpy. What happens next is contested.

For a long time I maintained that I was simply sitting in the passenger seat, hugging myself due to the chill in the car, when suddenly my sister turned to me and curiously said “heater?” Then, with no pause for my reply, she yelled, “WELL, TURN IT ON!!!.” It was so comically aggressive for the early morning that I remember feeling attacked and feeling that her words were unjustified because I did nothing to provoke them. In our arguments about the event, I claimed that there was silence in the car until her outburst, making myself out to be totally innocent of any responsibility for the misunderstanding. Indeed, my believed innocence is the only reason this small event was memorialized; I would make fun of her for her unprovoked aggression and her loud voice, saying things like, “remember that time you yelled at me in the car for no reason?” Then, I would jokingly imitate the entire event, highlighting her “aggression” and my confusion.

Her side of the story is quite different. She believed that I mumbled something about the heater and claimed she couldn’t hear exactly what I said. For clarity, she replied, “heater?” and quickly gathered what I had mumbled. Then, confused as to why I couldn’t just reach over and turn it on myself, she told me in a normal volume (perhaps slightly annoyed), “well, turn it on!” In her retelling of the story she makes it clear that I initiated the event and places responsibility onto me for not just turning the heater on. But when I brought it up to tease her, she always got very defensive, accused me of lying, and exaggerated in her storytelling. All this caused me to believe that I was right about the whole ordeal, that I, innocent, could use this against her forever.

Obviously, punctuation affected our perception of this interaction. I perceived her outburst as the catalyst, making me believe I was innocent. She perceived me to have started everything, making her believe she was provoked. Punctuation also affected how we resolved the issue: one day, for laughs, I was thinking this event over in my head. It occurred to me that I must have done something—mumble about the cold or perhaps gesture to the heater— for her to ask such a specific question as she did. In the end, I did the right thing by admitting to her that my argument was probably wrong and that I kept bringing it up because I thought her anger toward me was hilarious. But karma has caught up to me; now she will use this against me forever. : – (

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Self-Concept #1

From knowing the kinds of television programs I watch, websites I visit most often, and the genres of music I enjoy, someone could know about my priorities and get clues about my values. Those pieces of information tell a lot about how people spend their time and thus, what their priorities are throughout their days. For instance if I told someone that I don’t watch many television programs, then they would know that I spend my time doing other things. That information can also describe my values, especially when it comes to websites I visit most often. If I visited websites about politics then others can assume I value being informed and engaged in current events. If I visit artistic platforms more often, then others can assume that I value art and creativity. Overall, I think knowing the TV someone watches, websites they visit, and music they listen to can provide glimpses of their values, but doesn’t provide very deep insight about who they are.
I believe the media does influence how we see ourselves because it is a way to share stories and when we are represented in those stories, we see ourselves according to how they are told. In our discussion about women in advertisements, women are constantly objectified and portrayed as “perfect” ideals of beauty. Because the women in the ads represent and unachievable ideal, average girls and women have low self-esteem as a result, and many seek to change themselves in order to meet this standard. The media also influences the image we have ourselves when there is no representation of us in the stories told. This gives us the impression that we don’t matter, that no one cares about us, and that we aren’t seen — things that we then think about ourselves. Ultimately, the media shapes how we see ourselves because we are represented in the stories told about people.