HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


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Self Concept

I don’t believe that media influences how we see ourselves very much, not by the kinds of television programs someone watches or the genres of music they listen to at least. Although I do think that people will lean towards looking at things online that confirm what they already believe in, which can further influence them into that line of thinking. Almost all news and social media type sites are biased towards one side or another, so if people continually go to the same places to satisfy their confirmation bias it can lead to media influencing their views. I would label myself as a student and I think that’s a positive thing. It doesn’t affect the way I see myself very much, but when talking to other people outside of school, it is what I consider my current ‘occupation’. I believe it is a positive thing though as continued education, especially in my family, is valued and important. I don’t have much of an online presence at all, so I think if a future employer were to look into my social media they wouldn’t form much of an impression either way, positive or negative. I’m sure they wouldn’t find anything that would cause them to question whether they should hire me, so I wouldn’t change much. Although, I try to always keep that in mind to not put too much out there online or on social media sites. I’ve never had an issue with sharing too much information too soon in a relationship and it’s never been the reason for the end of a relationship. I also don’t usually experience people sharing too much too soon with me, or maybe I just don’t consider it to be too much. I’ve never had much of an issue with being open and talking about most things, even early on in relationships.


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Emotions

Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” I think Henry was implying with this quote that if you’re focusing solely on trying to be happy and not paying attention to anything else, it will be unobtainable because you’re focusing on the ‘wrong’ thing. Once you begin focusing your attention on things within your life that make you happy and you enjoy doing, happiness will come naturally. The old adage that prompts us to pursue the ‘American Dream’ is essentially putting forth a mindset that there is a perfect ideal lifestyle out there that will bring happiness. Putting too much emphasis on an unobtainable life-goal will only lead to disappointment in the long run, and enjoying and making the best out of what is currently going on in your life is the only way to truly be happy. This is also part of my theory of why America might not be ranked as the #1 happiest country on the earth. America has it engraved into the mentality of its citizens that there is an American Dream out there, with a perfect happy family, and that is what everyone should be striving for. While other countries are more focused on just improving every aspect they can of the daily lives of all their citizens. Although the idea of the American Dream is most certainly fading nowadays, and the newer generations care less or just don’t believe in what used to be one of the ultimate American ideologies. Also if we’re comparing America to Denmark specifically, I believe that Denmark’s better access to free higher education and universal healthcare contributes to the overall happiness within the country.


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Friends

I agree that, in most cases, family relationships are more stable than friend relationships. I’ve had many friendships come and go, but I have always maintained a stable relationship with the vast majority of my family. Family relationships are generally more supportive of each other in the long run, especially when more important events happen in a family member’s life. Whereas with friendships it’s understood that family emergencies take the ultimate priority. Although I would say in general romantic relationships are more stable than friendship relationships. This is with more established relationships compared to shorter, fleeting relationships. I’ve never really had conversational topics that were “off limits” with friends that I can think of. With some friends topics would come up that never did with other friends, but it was never a case of those topics being off limits. With some friends nearly any topic could come up or be open for discussion, but with other friends those topics simply never came up. Or with some friends our conversations will focus more on whatever our common interests are generally. Although I feel the ability to cover a wide range of conversation topics in a relationship indicates feelings of closeness and comfortability around the other person. Talking things through and being open about subjects is a good way to strengthen and create more trust within a relationship. I’ve had some friendships that I kept over long distances, and some friendships that ended fairly quickly after a geographic distance is created. Even the friendships that I have kept over long distances are ultimately strained, as it is difficult to keep in contact frequently without proximity. When I was younger I used to have friends on online games that I would talk to almost every day for years at a time, but over time once we stopped playing those games the friendships would end. Even if we had other forms of communication, if we weren’t keeping in contact on a frequent basis it is difficult to keep a strong and stable friendship or relationship.


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Family Members

My family life has always been a little different, as my parents divorced when I was very young, and I lived in two separate households until I was 16. So it was very difficult spending half the week at one parent’s house and the other half at the other parent’s house, especially when they live in different cities. Then my parents started dating other people again, and eventually a new step-parent moved into each household along with kids of their own. Or in the case of my dad’s house, we moved into his girlfriend’s house along with her two daughters. And at my mom’s house her boyfriend moved into our house along with his two daughters. So I had two separate houses along with two different families to live with throughout most of my childhood. Since there was so many people living together in the same households, I was always forced to share a room with my brother, and before then I even had to share a tiny bedroom with both my brother and my sister. The three of us cramped into a tiny office-sized room sharing a bunk bed was not the best sleeping situation, to say the least. It was basically 3 families living in 2 houses, and my brother my sister and I were the family that had to go back and forth between those 2 houses. And because my parents lived so far apart, there was nearly a half hour drive between the houses, it was like living in two entirely different places. One house in a forest with no neighbors and not near any real town, and the other right in the middle of a suburban neighborhood in a small, quiet town. But it was interesting, and sometimes difficult living with and being part of three different families while growing up.


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Managing Conflict And Power

My results from the self-quiz ‘How do you approach Conflict’ are about what I expected. I agree that, in general, I approach conflict with a collaborative approach. I will often try to work with someone to find a solution that is beneficial for both of us, or exchange information to aid in effective problem solving together. That is typically my approach to conflict, but there are certain times or situations where I’ll use other approaches, such as competition or avoidance. If it is a subject that I know someone feels strongly about and talking about that will not help the conversation in any way, then I find it better to use the avoidance approach. And sometimes, occasionally, I will use a competition approach in less important situations or conversations.

I do agree that I’ve seen the Dyadic Power Theory in practice with certain people before, but the best example I can think of is my dad. My parents divorced when I was young, and ever since then they’ve shared a joint custody agreement where I’ve spent half a week at my mom’s and the other half at my dad’s. I also have two siblings, so between us we were moving back and forth, and living in, two separate households. This is complicated further by the fact my dad lives about 20 minutes away from my mom’s house, and his house is in the middle of a forest, far away from my friends, school, and an actual town. And then as my siblings and I have gotten older, my dad has fought even harder to keep us, and all our belongings he’s ever purchased for us at his house. But seeing as his house is out of the way of everything else that goes on in our lives something like that is incredibly difficult to manage. At the moment my brother is less than a month away from turning 18, and my dad is trying everything he can to convince my brother to continue going to his house. My sister, who just turned 16, has just gotten her own car and driver’s license, and my dad has to work even harder to get her to continue spending time at his house because she no longer has to rely on him for transportation.


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Nonverbal Communication

I am definitely an M-time person, and my results from the self-quiz clearly reflect this. I am always checking my phone to see what time it is throughout the day, and I always want to know about what time it is. I’ve always been an M-time person, even when I was younger I would constantly check and keep track of the time in class. I would know the location of the clock in all my classes, and usually be looking forward to when lunch started or when school ended. I remember my dad used to ask me what time it was when we were driving around, and I would be able to guess the time within a few minutes every time even if I hadn’t checked in a while. Especially when I have a deadline or appointment, I am always very conscious of how soon it is and how much time I have until then. Although if I am not busy I can be a P-time person, especially on vacations were I can relax and not stress or worry about schedules. Except when I was much younger, only 2 or 3, I would ask how many days were left on our vacations, every single day. Over time I’ve had to work on learning not to worry about the time so much, and I’ve gotten much better about being a P-time person when it comes to relaxing on vacations, or not being concerned with work. So there is not much of an interpersonal impact because of my personal time orientation.

As far as proxemics go I am most likely to allow family or friends into my personal space. When meeting someone for the first time I will always shake someone’s hand if they offer it, but I will almost never be the person to initiate a handshake.


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Verbal Communication

I wouldn’t consider changing my given legal name for several reasons, but one of the primary reasons is that I like my name. My name was purposefully spelled differently than the usual way, my parents have told me, which at times can make it difficult when trying to spell my name out to people and fill out official forms. And I would rather add another last name onto my own and use two last names than adopt a different last name, if necessary. I would prefer this because last names can carry some importance and can be interesting with discovering one’s heritage or ancestry.

My native tongue, also known as a first language, is English. The ability to fluently speak English enables me to communicate ideas efficiently with other people who share English as their first language. I’ve learned from my Spanish classes that it can be more difficult to communicate with people who do not speak English as their first language. Especially when it comes to explaining more complex ideas or trying to understand someone else’s accent can even be challenging at times. And there has been several times in my classes were there was a foreign exchange student learning Spanish as their third language and English was their second language. So there were more cultural differences and an additional layer of translation necessary for effective communication. The more basic parts of communication were still quite easy, but certain parts were more challenging and took extra time and patience.

My score on the Self-Quiz ‘Test your Deception Acceptance’ rates me to have moderate deception acceptance, which would be someone who believes deception is acceptable under certain circumstances. And while I do think that deception is wrong in the majority of instances, I believe in certain circumstances it can be the right thing to do.