HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives


1. You would think that if the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is embedded in our Declaration of Independence, Americans should be the happiest people on earth. Yet we rank a respectable 17th, while the Danes are consistently rank 1st as the happiness people, as seen in this inspiring video: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/and-the-happiest-place-on-earth-is What do you make of this video? What lesson about happiness do you personally take away from this video, and what can we learn from the Danes?

2. Poet Henry David Thoreau once noted, “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.” What do you think he meant by this?

3. Describe an emotional event in a close relationship. What happened, and why? Can you identify a specific “trigger” for the emotional event? What was your physical experience of the event? Are all emotional events draining physically as well as mentally? (Based on the Self-Reflection question on p. 112.)

4. Describe emoticons that you frequently use in e-mail, online communications, and/or text messaging. Do those emoticons convey positive or negative emotion? Would your communications be as effective if you eliminated the use of the emoticons? Why or why not?

5. How would you describe your personality in terms of the five traits presented in the chapter? Which trait is most closely related to how you experience anger in interpersonal relationships? Describe the connection between this personality trait and your experience of anger.

6. Have you ever experienced a “couch-jumping” moment? In other words, think of a time when you lost control over your behavior and emotions. Describe what happened, how others reacted, and what, if anything, you wish you had done differently.

7. Describe a current situation that is emotionally difficult. Explain how you would apply one of the emotion prevention strategies discussed in the chapter for dealing with the situation. Consider the pros and cons of using the identified strategy.

8. A cross cultures, women report experiencing more sadness, fear, shame, and guilt than men, while men report feeling more anger and other hostile emotions. How consistent are these findings with your own emotional experiences?

9. Describe the nature of your emotional sharing with others. With whom do you normally share your emotions? What kind of impact does such sharing have on you and on the relationship? (Based on the Self-Reflection question on p. 125.)

10. Complete the Self-Quiz “Assessing Your Emotional Intelligence” on p. 124. Which areas are your strengths? Which dimensions do you need improvement in? What can you do to improve?

11. Identify a time when you used suppression as a means of managing emotions. What was the situation? What was the result? What do you conclude about the ethics of using suppression as an emotion management strategy?

12. Provide examples of situations in which you have used each of the four strategies for prevention of emotions (encounter avoidance, encounter structuring, attention focus, deactivation).