HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

Leave a comment

Workplace Relationships #5

Since the one job I’ve had so far was a summer job, last summer, I didn’t have the opportunity to establish “solid” friendships. Therefore I don’t consider any of them friends. I did, however, become close with one of my co-workers who would give me rides back to the office as our job was in the park. I feel that because of the fact that she would give me rides back to the office were we would drop off the materials we used in the park, we were able to talk about nonwork related stuff which aided in being acquaintances. She was really nice, interested in knowing more about me and my academic career, and respectful so of my four coworkers, I had the closest relatioship with her. For the first 4 weeks of my job, that coworker was also the person I would contact if I had questions or concerns and she would inform our boss. But, after those first four weeks there were changes in the organization and she became my boss. Since we had gotten to know each other the transition of her becoming my boss and me having to now let her know about my hours and stuff like that was smooth. I felt comfortable around her and didn’t have to reestablish a working relationship we alreay had.

With my other coworkers, we were simply information peers as our converstations never went beyond work: time sheets, what days we worked, how many kids were expected, or the materials needed for that day.  Although they weren’t my friends, that didn’t mean I hated them or that I didn’t feel comfortable with them. Our work relationship was great and supportive but it just didn’t transfer outside of work.

I think the major thing that prevented our relationships from becoming “deeper” was the fact that I was only there for the summer, which was around two months. Everyone else had been working with each for a long time and year round. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed working with them and that organization. They were all very welcoming and willing to help me grow and learn. Because of that experience, I will be working with them again this summer and I’m really looking forward to it.


Leave a comment

Family Members #1

A tradition that is significant in my family is something called “las posadas“. A posada is something we do leading up to Christmas for 12 days, starting on December 16th and ending on the 24th when we celebrate Christmas. The posadas symbolize the journey Mary and Joseph took before arriving to Bethlehem in looking for a safe place to give birth to Jesus.

Typically, my aunties get togethere and decide the days they want for the posada to happen in their house. The first thing we do when we meet is pray the rosary for that given day. Afterwards, we do something called pedir posada which is basically a call and response song. Some people go outside and the lyrics they call/sing present what Mary and Joseph would say. The people who stayed inside call/sing lyrics that represent the people who at first denied Mary and Joseph a place to stay. In the end, the outside people are welcomed inside and a final celebratory verse is sung.

Traditionally, we would go outside with a piñata with seven spikes to represent the 7 capital sins and break it to signify the triumph of good over evil. However, we don’t do that due to laziness. Instead, we do the next thing which is giving out goodybags with candy. In the end, we just hang around and drink some hot chocolate with mexican bread.

This contributes to our family identity becuase it shows our faith in God. It’s something we look forward to every December and somthing the kids really enjoy. It brings us closer as a family because we take time out of our day to meet and get in the Chirstmas spirit leading to Christmas day. Furthermore, it’s something that reflects my grandma’s values. Because of her, we have our faith and religious beliefs. Traditions like these have strengthened that and connected religion and family which are two things important in our lives.

Leave a comment

Managing Conflict and Power #8

The most recent time I can remember was at the beginning of this past Fall semester. I was originally going to dorm with my freshman year roommate but there were some financial differences and we didn’t end dorming together. So I was in a double with a new roommate from Japan and 3 other suitemates. We had initially planned on cleaning up after ourselves and I agreed because I figured since we were girls and we had all put clean to somewhat clean on the roommate application that we would, therefore, live in clean common spaces.

However, by the time of Thanksgiving break the bathrooms were dirty, especially the sinks, and the trash was only taken out if I asked someone to take it out. I thought we would be conscious of our space and that there would be no need to ask others to take out the trash when there was a “cleaning log”. I would always make sure to clean up because I learned from being in college/dorms that I’m a somewhat of clean freak and If it were up to me I would clean everything and throw the trash as soon as it gets full. Despite that, I knew that if I were to always do it, I would be the only one cleaning when I’m not the only one living there. So I made a “cleaning log” but it was rarely used.

I never brought it up to them directly because I didn’t want them to think that I was a clean freak or overreacting. Plus I didn’t want us to be uncomfortable living in our suite and seeing each other every day of the semester with that tense feeling. That’s why looking back, I would have vocalized during our roommate agreement that we should have had specific cleaning jobs/responsibilities like we did this semester. Two months in and our shared spaces are clean. We all realized that last semester was horrible in that specific aspect and needed specific jobs even though we all considered ourselves clean.



Leave a comment

Nonverbal Communication #6

The only people who I am most likely to allow in my intimate space is my sister, my mom, and when I greet my family. Not so much my dad as our relationship is flip-floppy, at least from my point of view. For example, if he comes in for a hug I get really tense and stiffen up because I get uncomfortable. One of the main reasons being that growing up I really didn’t do that with him so now as adults, even though our relationship is way better than what it was during middle/high school, I feel a bit awkward.

Obviously, depending on the situation, I allow other people into my intimate space if I’m taking care of them, consolating them, etc. But, there are also some situations where I have no say and are understandable like standing in a line, being in a crowded elevator or dancing in a big party/concert. One particular situation where someone entered my intimate space unexpectedly was when I met some family members from México for the first time in a social gathering. Typically, I kiss on the cheek with my uncles, aunties, and some cousins all who I’ve known for a good chunk of my life. Even with first encounters with other family members, I go in for the cheek kiss with women and a handshake for men. So when I met my one of my aunties for the first time we both went in for the hug and kiss. Then I went for the handshake with my male cousin, but as I was extending my arm he came in with the hug and the cheek kiss. I was completely shocked but still reacted with a hug to not be rude because the greeting wasn’t done with bad intentions. I gave my mom a look and she looked at me saying to shake it off. Then my mom told me that even if you haven’t ever met before, on that specific side of the family, the kiss and hug are standard when greeting a woman which was something I don’t do when I greet most of my male cousins.

For the majority of the interactions I have, whether with family members or with friends, occur in my personal space as I am comfortable around them. Like it mentioned in the book, my social space is typically for people who I talk to, but don’t really know that well or for interaction with strangers in a store or in the workplace. I don’t really care or even pay intense close attention to my public space unless I have a reason to; which can also apply to the other spaces. If I’m being paranoid or am going through an anxiety attack, then any space being invaded is a trigger. But generally, my main focus is on my intimate, personal, and social space whenever I interact with others.


Leave a comment

Verbal Communication #1

The only reason I would consider changing my legal name is that of marriage. Typically in my culture, the women automatically take the last name of the husband and erase theirs. However, I have seen some like my cousin who has both: her first last name is her husbands and after it, it’s hers. Legally, my mom has my dad’s and her last name but it has a “de” after hers like “Ortega de Villalobos”; Ortega being her last name and Villalobos my dads. When she introduces herself to other people though, she just uses Villalobos for simplicity.

I feel that I would legally have my husband’s last name first and then mines, but like my mom for informal introductions just say my husband’s last name. I wouldn’t want to get rid of my last name because I feel that it’s such a part of who I am. First of all because outside of my immediate and extended family, I have ever only met one other person with the last name Villalobos and we had no family connections. I love that it’s unique and its funny to hear the different pronunciations of it in English. Lastly, because when I hear or see my full name it reminds me of how much I’ve grown as this individual.

Besides the fact that its tradition in my culture, I would take my husband’s last name because to me it signifies that the 2 individuals are now one being embarking on a new journey together. However, just because I would have mines at the end does not mean that I’m not “fully committed” to being one being. I guess in thinking of it too hard, it shows that I’m one with him but I’m also not a completely new person. Having my last name, to me, would mean that I carry on the legacy of my family’s last name and the struggles my parents have gone through and that have shaped me as an individual. Almost like an homage to them that their name will not be lost, but rather live on with pride. Together, the two last names will represent the “new” me with the history and pride of the “old” me.


Leave a comment

Emotions #11

It was January 15, 2015.  I heard my mom come into the house probably around 7:45 am, I was getting my backpack to go to school and finish finals. She knocked on my door and went straight to embrace me. I was shocked and then she started to cry and say, “my dad, he just died. He died Natalie, he just died.” She just stayed there for a while crying on my shoulder and I just stood there embracing her not really knowing what else to do.

My grandpa had been in the hospital for close to 2 weeks. He went in for a checkup with his primary doctor in the morning and when they checked his chest they said they recommended he stay the night in the emergency room because something didn’t sound right. So my aunty called everyone to let them know that it wasn’t serious but that he would stay overnight. With further tests, they found he had pneumonia so he needed to stay longer. One thing led to another and in a couple of days, he was in an induced coma.

My entire family was in and out of the hospital. The waiting area was always filled with our family and so was the hallway. The doctors had told us that they were just waiting for him to leave because there was nothing else they could possibly do for him. The idea of him dying was in the back of my mind, but it never really hit me that it would actually happen. I was somewhat in denial, but internally because I never vocalized any of my doubts or questions. If I didn’t know and was oblivious, then there was no reason for me to worry, be sad, or upset; I was focusing my attention on other distractions like school.

That morning my mom came to tell us the news, I went to school and did my finals. I was just going with the flow of the day. My friends even asked me about how my grandpa was and I told them he passed that morning, but I was so chill about it like it was nothing. From that day my mom came crying that morning, through the service in church, and the funeral I didn’t cry a single tear. I was emotionally deactivated from any sign of sadness. I had suppressed everything related to my grandpa’s death. Whenever the topic would come up I would never engage in a way to continue the conversation because everyone would start crying. Back then, the last thing I wanted to show my family members or anybody for that matter, was what I thought was a sign of weakness or vulnerability. It wasn’t until October of that year that I was able to release my bottled up feelings in a spiritual retreat that I had.

I think that in a situation like this, suppressing the sadness and grief is the worst strategy. Under the right circumstances, it’s better to open up because eventually, the cup will spill and the cleanup will not be pretty. For example, when it comes to frustration in the workplace with customers or things like that, I think it’s okay to suppress because your job is on the line if you start venting negatively to a customer.


Leave a comment

Perceiving Others #7

When I first met this person, as  I do with all people I first meet, I was very respectful. I knew that she had already been a part of the group longer than me, so I thought she was just being friendly to make me feel comfortable. However, when she approached and talked to me I sensed that she wasn’t really paying attention to me and what I was saying when I spoke. Instead, she was looking around to see who was watching us; to make herself look like a nice welcoming person. From that point on, I was always very cautious of how I acted and what I said around her because those vibes weren’t good.

The negative gestalt I had made actually was true. Through more time of knowing her in the group setting that we were in and the comments/responses she would give upon certain conversations reassured to me the fact that she always wanted to make herself look better no matter what it took. At the same time, I learned more about her past and her experiences which made me more understanding of why she would act the way she did. I was never rude to her and I’m not to this day whenever we meet. Just because I had negative information about her didn’t change the fact that she was another human with difficult experiences that had shaped who she was. Therefore I never focused just on that and I’m always polite and respectful, but keep the conversation to small talk only.

On the other hand, when I first started talking to my freshman roommate I had a positive gestalt. I think the positivity bias definitely influenced me because before we had even started talking, I always hoped I would get along with my roommate and that they would be a good person. So when we started talking and my initial impressions via chats were all positive I was reassured. I certainly looked at her comments with a sympathetic, open, and understanding eye because I really hoped we would get along ultimately, becoming friends. For example off the bat, she started cursing which I don’t mind as I do it all the time I just didn’t do it at first because I had just met her and wasn’t comfortable. With the positivity bias, I took it as she was a really honest, direct,  and already comfortable with me. I didn’t take it as something rude or disrespectful because of the halo effect. If it would have been the person I had the negative gestalt with, it would have probably been a reassurance to her negative impression.

Analyzing even just that, to me is funny and interesting. It’s funny to see how real these concepts are because in the moment you’re not analyzing what’s going on, you’re just living it second by second.



Leave a comment

Self-Concept #4

A label that used to affect me a lot in high school was that of being the “shy or quiet girl”. I would get that all the time mostly because I was really quiet and shy. However, it was also like the self-fulfilling prophecy where that was the way I and others saw myself so that’s how I would act. I felt constricted in a box and would be afraid of what people would think about me if I did something that wasn’t part of the person they thought I was. For example, someone who is shy doesn’t speak in front of the class or even in a large group. So, I never volunteered to speak first and I only spoke if I had to because I thought they would judge me and think that I was fake. I didn’t want them to think or say, “Look at her. Who does she think she is talking if she never talks” or stuff like that. Which never actually happened or not that I was aware of. Instead, people would be surprised and say good job but I thought they were just saying that to be nice and didn’t actually mean it.

In the relationship aspect, this affected me in the sense that I only had 2 close friends. I had a group that I would hang out with and since my school was really small and everyone had been together since 5th grade, we were all generally friendly to one another. When we would hang out I would only listen for the most part and never really gave my opinion unless asked; didn’t feel like it was necessary as the more dominant personalities had given theirs already. But the only people who I felt comfortable to be myself around with were those 2 friends. With my family during those years, I was labeled as shy but it didn’t affect to the extent it did with the people in my school. Not that I didn’t care what they thought about me, it was different with them because no matter what they were my family and I was always comfortable with them.

During my senior year of high school, everything regarding being the “shy girl” started to change. I didn’t do a full 180-degree change to the point where I was a social butterfly but I didn’t see myself as the shy girl. I still don’t to this day. I know that I do tend to be reserved but I’m not afraid to participate in class for example or to initiate small talk. It’s definitely hard to open up, but at least now I don’t limit myself to things only a shy girl would do.