HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

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I Suck, but that’s News to no One.

I am a coward. Plain and simple. I love to avoid my problems rather than facing them head on because that’s the easiest thing to do. I’ve been like that as long as I can remember. I don’t understand why or how that’s just how I am.

I am very particular about who I let in my space. I have boundaries that deserve to be respected just like everyone else. There are appropriate times and places for everything, but I believe that one’s physical boundaries should be kept as such. For example, recently I was faced with a situation where I was being given an ultimatum. Someone who called me their “friend” was not being a very good friend. He told me that I had to meet with him and that I had no choice. I’m not exactly sure what he would’ve done had it not been resolved and I didn’t meet with him. That’s kind of scary. Anyways, he told me that I had to meet with him and I had no choice but to talk about the issue that we were having. It wasn’t fair to me and the situation. I was given no choice. In my opinion, that is something that no one should ever do to another person. People deserve to have choices. People are flexible, kind, And understanding (or at least they can and should be). That was a violation of my space. I was avoiding him, Purposefully because of proxemics. He should have taken the hint that I didn’t want to talk to him, but that’s not what happened and it wasn’t fair to me. I don’t talk to this person anymore, Why would I? If you’re wondering, the situation resolved by me being so scared of him that I had to tell my peers who then intervened. That’s not cool.

From a young age, I was very particular about who I let in my space. Most specifically relating to my bed. Being a child who shared a room my entire life, My bed was my solidarity. My bed was my one place in the world that belonged to me and only me. Naturally, I was very defensive of my bed. That is something that has stuck with me to this day. If you share everything all the time you need a place to yourself and for me, that was my bed. When people would sit on my bed who want my friends or without asking I would ask them to leave. Sometimes I would even get very defensive. Many of the fights that me and my sister got into were about her sitting on my bed where I asked her to stop and she didn’t. I believed that that wasn’t fair to me, I still do. My bed is private.
Like with the first story, I felt as though someone was invading my space. I was giving them hints telling them to stop. After repeated offenses I can get irritated or scared, anyone can. I was often using my distance as a communication. By only allowing myself in my bed I was establishing I was the only one allowed in my one place in the universe. By distancing myself from my “friend” I was giving the hint that I didn’t want to be around him. My use of proxemics has been a big part of my life so far. Like I said, it’s because I’m a coward.

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Listening for the Wrong Reasons…

I feel like often I have a problem where I will listen for the wrong reason. Almost all the time, I listen with the intent of giving support and helping and on occasion this will bite me later. For example, when I said something to one of my coworkers and the asked me to repeat myself about five times before I realized it was just a joke being played on me, rather than them actually having comprehension issues. Maybe I’m just a loser, but that didn’t seem very considerate to me. Often times this finds me in a gullible position. I act as though people are always being genuine to me and looking for my support when this is not always the case.

Another example is times when my friends will be joking about something very serious and I believe them (we often have dark humor). My default emotion is not to joke around and say, “Oh, shut up, you’re shitting me,” even if they often are. Habitually, this seems like it would be embarrassing, but any shame I have left me years and years ago. I would rather be caring all the time (and, subsequently, when it matters) than make jokes and be funny the one time it’s not a joke, but that’s just my opinion.

The obvious solution would be to harden myself and not always look to help, but I don’t want to do that. I’ve always considered myself an extremely empathic person, and I intend to keep it that way. I see this not as a listening problem, but as a strength. It’s really hard to genuinely care about people, especially most the people you meet. My empathy is part of who I am. It’s what got me my job. Empathy as a skill is much more powerful than most people would believe. It helps me be who I am and be approachable.

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This Will Leave You Feeling Sad, Fair Warning

I am a pansy. I am one who avoids conflict like the plague and would rather live with an unfair solution than fight against it. Things like encounter avoidance are my friend. Using this method, I can just make an attempt to never deal with my problems instead of taking care of them. For example, my ex-boyfriend was something of an asshole to me after I broke up with him last Summer. He was being extremely bitter that I had done so and was even accusing me of never loving him despite our nearly one-year dating. He blocked me and unfollowed me on various social media, but I didn’t know this until he tried to follow me back. After repeated attempts to contact me, many of which made me feel really uncomfortable, I just left his requests to sit. I did not block him, which would send the “back off” message. I did not friend him so we could talk it out. I am simply avoiding the problem, and I reckon I’ll continue to do so until he stops being a neurotic crazy person.

I use encounter structuring when I don’t want to talk about certain subjects. Typically this is not my most used method of managing my emotions because I often lack the foresight necessary to see where a conversation is going. When I need to avoid something I’ll often change the subject ex-post facto, but it isn’t often I’m so actively trying to avoid a topic that I keep it in the front of my mind to think about how to avoid it. To do that I would have to dwell on that topic in a borderline obsessive manner, and I usually try not to do that.

Attention focus is something that I try to keep close in an attempt to feel empathy for and understand others. The easiest and most recent example of attention focus I can think of is my coworker telling me that his son died a few years ago. In a different setting and were this about myself, I would use jokes and humor as a coping mechanism, instead of walking around the topic dancing on top of it. However, because this is my coworker and not me and because this is at work I make an active effort to avoid the subject and avoid talking about children altogether. This is the nice thing to do, rather than re-open wounds for seemingly no reason.

Two years ago my father died in a car accident (which is also why I bring up the joking about death thing). It was my first major death in my life and I depended on my father more than anyone in this world. Needless to say, my world was changed. I was never and will never be the same. After the first few weeks when the initial stages of grief wore off, I felt numb. I didn’t talk to anyone at school the same way. I would go home and go to my room and sleep. I didn’t connect at all with any human being for months. This is a textbook definition of deactivation. I was avoiding every interaction in order to feel nothing because I preferred it. Sad stuff, sorry to bring down the mood.