HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

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Romantic Partners Prompt 3

I think Knapp’s model for relationships and their progression is very accurate, although I would not use it to specify every relationship, as everyone is a little different, and some couples definitely deviate from the norm. I have only ever been in one official relationship, but all the stages make sense to me, and I’ve seen quite a few couple go through these stages. Before I started dating my girlfriend, we didn’t talk very much because of school and not seeing her often at all. When we exchanged emails (her main means of communication), it took off. I spent months in the experimenting/intensifying stage because I didn’t know how to ask her out. After a while, I finally did, and she said yes. From that point, it was a little difficult to date her because she couldn’t tell her parents about me, as she wasn’t supposed to date anyone. As a result, bonding didn’t develop as it was supposed to. She was also incredibly shy and embarrassed, so I’d have to be alone with her to be romantic. Though we didn’t bond much, we did integrate. We got involved in each other’s activities, probably more of me going to her, since she was dating me undercover. We dated for almost a year, but once we got into college, a lot of things changed. We started noticing our differences, and we were really busy. Since we didn’t go to the same colleges, we couldn’t talk as much as before. We went through differentiation, but she ended up hooking up with a guy I didn’t know about until later. She ended the relationship very suddenly, thus skipping the circumscribing and stagnating. She then proceeded to lie to her friends and say I was this and that to her, even though I made time to drive 3 hours to go see her on the weekend when she asked. I’m not sure what actually happened there up at the end, but it was probably not how relationships are supposed to end. It was probably just some bad luck. Either way, I went through most of the stages, so I understand them. I wouldn’t add any stages, as I can’t think of any that would fit in properly. I do think that Knapp’s model is a well-constructed baseline for the lifespan of a relationship.

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Non-Verbal Communication Prompt#6

Generally speaking, I never really had problems with other people being within a certain proximity of me. Of course, it completely depends on the situation at hand. For example, in a crowded line, there’s not really much the other people can do to make room for you, so I feel that it’s a lot more understandable for them to be close to me, despite me not knowing them. On the other end of the spectrum, there was the time I was in the school bathroom in high school, and my teacher walked in and chose the urinal closest to mine. It felt really awkward because there was no one else in the bathroom besides us, so he could have used one much further away. In fact, there is an unwritten and unspoken list of rules to abide by in the men’s bathroom. It is a sacred code that must not be broken. My teacher had unknowingly broken several of these rules.

All joking aside, it really did feel like a violation of privacy. As for someone like my best friend, continuing a conversation with him in the bathroom isn’t much of a big deal. For my closer friends, we usually group up, so it’s not unusual for them to be in my personal/social space. I’m perfectly fine with anyone being in my personal space, so long as they have business with me. If they’re there for no reason at all, then it can be a bit creepy, and I’d probably label them a stalker if they followed me without talking to me. As far as intimate space goes, that’s pretty much specifically for a girlfriend (assuming I had one), or close family members. My social space isn’t really “reserved” for anyone in particular. I can’t really tell myself to be irritated that someone is invading my “social space”. Even if they’re not interacting with me particularly, they probably have their reasons for being there, doing work or something. I’m not a territorial person, except for when I’m in my car because people getting close to my car when I’m driving is a hazard. Like if I’m trying to back out of a space and someone is chatting on their phone, less than a foot from my car. That only bugs me because I’m moving 3,300lbs of steel, and I don’t want to hit anyone with it. Other than that, the only space I consider to be “reserved” is probably intimate space.

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Verbal Communication Prompt #6

“If we spoke a different language, we would perceive a somewhat different world”. I have only studied two other languages other than English before. Neither of which I would consider myself to be adept in. Regardless, from my time studying both Spanish and Japanese, I can interpret the quote as learning another language is like learning to see things differently. To learn another language is to also dive into another culture. Looking back on it, it really did feel like I was seeing things in a different world.

For Spanish I wouldn’t say that it felt a whole lot different because it’s very similar to English. Sentence structure was the same and many words are interchangeable or had insignificant differences. When I began learning Japanese, it was so different from English that I felt a little overwhelmed, but it was really interesting. The instructor would explain why kanji was written a certain way, and although it’s not something that made sense in English, it still got through to me. Japanese isn’t very specific either, as in there are no articles or plural versions of nouns. Although it was hard to convey direct thoughts at times, the language flowed very smoothly. When I was starting to get the hang of it, I felt it strange that I was actually communicating with a language that wasn’t the one I grew up with. Perhaps that’s what the quote was implying. I felt I was perceiving another world through another language, and I really enjoyed learning it.

This is probably what most people would say about learning another language, assuming that they weren’t forced to learn it. Although it doesn’t feel as natural as using your native language, there is something really enjoyable about having the ability to express your ideas in two or more cultures. It creates a sense of freedom, as if you could open up to more people than you could before. That’s how I would interpret the quote.

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Active Listening Prompt #10

I have a great appreciation for Brown’s quote regarding the idea that you can live and learn something from everyone you meet. You may not necessarily NEED some information from someone you meet, but it may be something you should know. Of course, that is also under the assumption that one was to take the quote literally. I believe the foundation of the quote’s meaning is to refrain from rejecting information from any given person or group just because you may not want to hear it.

It can be easy to “listen” to advice that someone gives you, but not really take it into consideration. There have been several times in high school when I was given advice on how I should do something, and I “listened” to their advice. However, I never really considered it. Only a few words in, I already decided whether I would give their advice a second thought later that day or not. I don’t want to imply I was rude to these people or disliked them at all. More often than not, my advisors were my best friends. The issue lied within some pride I had, and thinking to myself that I didn’t really need their advice.

Looking at the quote from a broader point, it also applies to many different situations in everyday life. If not friends or family giving you life lessons, then maybe a stranger expressing a different viewpoint that you’re not used to. Perhaps you don’t agree with them, but simply listening to what they say and thinking about it a little bit deeper can help you understand why they think that way. If anything, it can help you reinforce your own viewpoints.

Listening to others is a huge part of what helps us shape our own identities. I learned that keeping an open mind and always at least lending an ear to others can teach you a lot of things. After all, it’s not any of us are born knowing everything the world has to offer.

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Emotions Prompt #2

The quote, as I understand it, is very straight-forward and pretty easy to understand. What Henry David Thoreau was trying to say is that happiness isn’t an object you can simply obtain like money or groceries. If you were to seek happiness out, the search itself is preventing you from being happy. Happiness is something that is subjective. It’s different for every person, and so what makes one person happy may make another person uncomfortable or even angry. You can’t live your every day life expecting life or anything in your life to just give you happiness. Maybe this will sound a bit harsh, but “life” doesn’t owe you anything.

Though, as harsh as it may sound, people are more in control of their life than they think. If they want to sit around twiddling their thumbs complaining about trivial things like how their life is horrible because one little thing happened that day, and talk about how “Why can’t I just be happy?”, well the answer is you certainly can. However, the attitude above is a depiction of someone who is choosing to not be happy. Now, understandably, there are people out there that have genuine struggles to face. For them, of course it is a challenge, but many are still able to be happy and have talked about it in interviews. Everyone has bad days. Maybe you were dumped and you really loved your significant other, or you totaled your car, and the repair costs aren’t affordable. These things happen, and they’re devastating, but that’s no reason to give up on ever being happy. That’s where the mindset of “I must pursue happiness” begins.

On the contrary, there are people that are very fortunate and yet still complain about everything. It’s simply an outlook. Happiness is something that comes naturally. What does that mean? Well, it means the less you expect, the more pleasantly surprised you’ll be. As you learn to let go of this “pursuit”, you’ll naturally do things you like, you’ll fall in line with people you get along with, and you’ll generally be a happier person. At least that’s how I’ve seen things for a while now.

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Perceiving Others (Prompt #7)

(Prepare for a novel)

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t form negative Gestalts that often. On a daily basis I encounter people that just have a way of seeming generally unlikable. While there are some individuals that I’ve known for some time that I don’t particularly enjoy spending my time with, most of my negative Gestalts form on the road.

Every month I make a commute back home that is just over 600 miles round trip. As a result, I lose my patience pretty quickly with tailgaters, drunks, speeders (like 25mph+ over the limit when I’m already going 10 over), and people who don’t stop at stop signs (or yield at yield signs). It doesn’t get too irritating until about 100 miles in. At that point, I immediately perceive them as a horrible person both in and out of the car. I hate them, and yet I don’t even know what they look like. I don’t need to. All I need to know is that they don’t care if they’re putting someone’s life in danger, including mine. They just want to get to where they’re going faster.

Now, on the other hand, I had a friend that owned a 2010 Chevy Camaro. He was a really nice guy, and I enjoyed spending time with him. I used to ride shotgun with him, speeding down country roads. Sometimes he did very questionable things like drifting on public roads or burning out in empty parking lots. Had I not been his friend, I probably would have thought he was a scumbag or something. It was more or less a double standard for a while, but it was so fun I couldn’t bring myself to tell him to stop.

Going back to the negativity effect, I’ve also had that experience in-state as opposed to out-of-state. I’ve been out of California more than a few times, and I’ve noticed that many people in California are pretty rude to strangers. I’ve had my share of random people telling me off because I held the door open, or I say “good evening” and they glare at me like I’m the one being rude. Every time I went out of state, everyone was so kind to me. If I held the door open, they said “thank you” with an authentic smile on their face. No one ignored me when I asked for directions. People happily talked to strangers about how beautiful the sights were or gave helpful advice about the area. No exceptions yet. Now, I want to make it clear that not EVERYONE I meet in California is rude. Just a lot more than anywhere else. In a sense, I almost have a negative Gestalt for the state itself because of the impressions of strangers.

Though to refrain from ending off on a negative note, I do occasionally meet incredibly nice people in California. One time an older veteran stopped to say “hi” to me. After greeting him back, we made some small talk about the area and weather. In the same day, a cashier at the military commissary complimented my shirt and we talked about careers. It might sound silly, but that day was a bad day for me, and that more than cheered me up. Simple courtesy like that can mean a lot. People like them help me create more positive opinions of others and that makes it that much easier to be a nicer person yourself.

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Self-Concept Prompt #1

I believe that knowing the kind of media that a person enjoys can reveal a lot about them. Of course, it is also true that many people may enjoy the same content for different reasons, and thus, may have two completely different views. However, understanding what someone likes and why they like it can help you understand their train of thought, possible morals or values, or how they might perceive something. For example, my YouTube feed consists of many different kinds of videos about different hobbies. This mostly implies that I like trying out different things on my free time. I don’t watch much TV other than the news because I don’t really care about modern trends and reality shows. I have a pretty broad, yet immature sense of humor. I browse reddit day to day with all kinds of different threads, not really centered on any one kind of topic. Other than TV, I watch mostly anime because it has humor that can’t be replicated in other shows (like amusing faces or reactions), and it also has a broad range of genres to choose from. I like pretty much all genres except for drama. My music tastes, unlike the rest of my preferred media, is rather specific. I listen mostly to rock music, but I listen to some electronic. Most modern mainstream music I don’t particularly care for like pop or rap, and I assume that to be because I have a fairly reserved personality. I’m not very social, never mind a party goer. That being said, party music is not up my alley. Rock music is generally laid back and calming, so it works well for me. Rock probably stands out to me also because I really enjoy when it sounds like an artist has a lot of passion for what they do. The passion more or less inspires me to get something done. When I want energy, I usually listen to some Eurobeat to get myself up and around. Personally, the media doesn’t really influence how I see myself. Sure, it may set up expectations for what “good looking” might be, but at the end of the day, if you can’t connect with the people around you, then looks are the last thing you should be concerned about. More than anything else though, I think it’s important that people care for themselves first. There came a point some time ago where I stopped caring about what others thought of me. After all, it’s not MY obligation to impress others. To be a kind person, sure, but not to impress. That goes for media too. I just do what works for me because it makes life just that much easier.