HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


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Perceiving Others Prompt 2

I am most likely stereotyped by my race. People seem to have the idea that Asians are REALLY good at math and are straight A students. People also say that Asians are very rich yet also very cheap. In reality though, I am terrible in math and not rich at all. I am however quite cheap, I try my best to save my money. People also think Asians eat really weird foods and animals but all races have their own culture and foods. Stereotyping can affect a whole community, it can make people think a certain group is a certain way, when in reality it could be the total opposite. I believe stereotyping can be a pain, either trying to fight with it or keep up with it. Like when parents expect you to be as smart as your other friends and family you try your best to keep up with it or when you get judged by the food you eat but you do not care for others opinions so you fight it. Stereotyping puts people in boxes, it does not let people explore and venture off into what they want to do.

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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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Perceiving Others (#6)

Honestly, the way I would perceive them differently would probably depend on which views differed from mine. For example, if they were fiscally liberal and I was fiscally conservative, that would not be a big problem, or a problem at all. I would be interested in hearing about their fiscal and economic views. If it was about something fact, proven, or scientific and they disagreed I probably would have less respect for them as an intelligent person. If someone disregards fact there is not much room for common ground or discussion, only perhaps to try and convince them to believe the facts – which can be very difficult if they are very rooted in their beliefs. One example would be my grandmother who is very big into conspiracy theories. Now, one of the theories she believes is that the Holocaust never happened. Now, I already very much disagree and this trivializes the millions who died and the families who still live and the culture passed on in Jewish communities. My boyfriend and his family are Jewish, so this would be a very awkward interaction. I would certainly call that a challenge.

I think that it is easiest to discuss and debate with those who do not have black and white views of the world or are at least open to hear the grey. For example, I sometimes watch debate videos – both because I would like to get better, and I am interested in the topic. Such as if someone thinks that gender and sex are the same thing, and that there are only two genders. If they are not open to the idea that culture and biology are different then the argument will be very tiring and annoying.

I have had debates or conversations that opened me up to new ideas or I opened the others’ minds to new ideas – and it always feels relieving to be on the same page and to convince someone. I try to be very open minded, but I do have strong beliefs that I stick to, unless I find a flaw in it and then change accordingly. I think that keeping yourself open to new ideas is a good idea and promotes education. It can certainly be very difficult, and I am not always able to do so. There are some topics where I cannot imagine me as a person believing the other side. For example, I strongly believe in if you are not hurting others or yourself, you have the right over your own body. I cannot remember the quote that I am thinking of, but that is the essentials of it – freedom over your own body. If someone were to say people should not do drugs in their own time or women should not be allowed to get abortions, I would disagree.


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Perceiving Others (Prompt #5)

“Surprise!”

The light suddenly flickers on as a lively crowd of family and friends bombard me at the door. My heart lurches in my chest as I try to recompose myself.

“Oh gosh, you guys scared the shizz out of me,” I exhaled. Their beaming smiles and expecting eyes follow me as I am finally able to peel myself away from my only escape route.

“But we wanted to surprise you for your birthday!” my 8 year old cousin exclaimed, “We thought you would—”

Okay hold up, not to be a complete party pooper, but I strongly hope I never have to be in a situation like the one I just described. You might be wondering why I would dislike surprise parties, but my conscientiousness can give you an explanation. First off, I do not like being surprised at all (unless it’s a really, really, good surprise like if you were to surprise me with a puppy). Secondly, I crave predictability and consistently in life like I crave sugared doughnuts. I love knowing what is going to happen or being able to predict what is going to happen.

However, I got to give some credit to my high amount of conscientiousness which is my most liked personality trait among the main five. It has gotten me through high school and college (so far) with a decently high GPA. When I am given homework assignments, it helps me stay on track and to not get distracted with all the yummy food I could be eating. Okay, fine. Sometimes, as in 99.99% of the time, I give in and just head straight for the fridge; I got to keep my priorities straight here, folks. My conscientiousness, for the most part, serves me well. I cannot complain about being an organized, clean freak because I actually like living in a room that doesn’t smell like booty (not trying to say your room smells like booty if you don’t clean it. It could naturally smell like Glade’s Hawaiian Breeze in which case good for you).

Since I am a lover of consistency, predictability, and planning I seek out others who are similar. I can be a little biased sometimes when I meet a clean freak like me who actually likes to clean. I will immediately place them on my good side whether or not they deserve it. Overall, my conscientiousness makes me bias during the perception process. I will tend to focus on the person’s conscientious-like traits and discard any negative ones they might have. When the conversation is over, I will walk away with a positive judgement of them simply because they like to clean or they are organized or they love predictability. If you totally think I am nuts by now, just know two things. I do not like being surprised; and if you must surprise me, a fair warning would be greatly appreciated.


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Perceiving Others: Prompt 5

The trait that I perceive and like most in myself is conscientiousness. On a daily basis, this may not be as obvious to a stranger that sees me studying at a library: I can get easily distracted, fidget a lot, or take a bunch of 20-minute breaks in my efforts to answer one homework question. But when it comes to long-term organization and duties, I am very careful and methodical.

For example, I may neglect a math review sheet until the morning it’s due (like right now) out of pure laziness. This would lead me to be more careless, less focused, and highly distracted when I do get around to it. But when it comes to things like saving money, planning ahead for next semester’s enrollment, or seeking out internships and job opportunities, I am very methodical about how I approach these tasks.

A reason for my selective conscientiousness, I believe, is that I need to either be passionate about the task at hand or or feel a sense of urgency to get it done, otherwise I become disinterested and it loses its urgency. This is why I’m more likely to apply for internships at a company I admire or work on a programming project as opposed to getting my environment homework done. This persistence and methodical, organized planning are what lead me to believe in my high conscientiousness.

I definitely do see how my opinion of this trait in myself can impact the way I see it in others, especially in a negative way. Whether it’s consciously or not, we’re always making quick judgements about others’ behavior and personality traits, especially if we feel confident—it’s in our nature. If someone were to look over at me while I’m goofing off, for example, they may assume in that moment that I lack conscientiousness. What’s to stop me from doing the same to others? Not everything we perceive is as it seems, however. Usually there are many underlying traits that have yet to reveal themselves to others.