HCOM 214: Interpersonal COMM & Conflict

Learning interpersonal communication skills to improve every part of our lives

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Love burns

My first real romance was rather interesting and formative. I spent three years of high school thinking poorly of myself. If anything, adolescence sure was a rocky ride for me. However, it wasn’t all woe for me. The summer before senior year I found myself falling for a friend of another friend. I certainly wasn’t expecting such a gorgeous, sweet, nerdy Latina to reciprocate my feelings. I wasn’t expecting to fall for someone who was so much like me. I was deeply attracted to this kindred spirit.  In spite of us being in somewhat of a long-distance relationship, for a while things felt to be moving smoothly in this phase. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, like the relationship. But prior to that our little honeymoon phase wore off further into the relationship. 9 months into our relationship, that following she wanted me to visit her and meet her family. This was a bit of a surprise to me. Whenever we discussed our relatives she seemed awfully reticent in divulging anything about hers. When I finally visited to her, she was making desperate efforts to keep me from meeting her folks. I later found out that her family was somewhat of in shambles and that the root of her issues was her father. I eventually found out that her father was a prejudiced and abusive alcoholic who kept all of her immediate relatives (mother, brother, and grandmother) under his control. It was unpleasant that he made my girlfriend suffer a lot. I pity her for what she had to go through. But I am not sure whether to attribute her dishonesty in our relationship to her or her father. In the months following my visit to her hometown, we attended this university together for two semesters. I was happy we were no longer in a long distance relationship and that we could finally enjoy each other’s proximity as lovers. I expected a rekindling of our honeymoon phase, but instead encountered the turning point of our romance. In other words, the beginning of the end of it. I began seeing my girlfriend’s true colors, her mendacity, her duplicity, and her emotional instability. It became hard to pity her, but I could not help myself. And even with that she took advantage of my unyielding kindness to the bitter end. All my efforts to reach out to her, appease, and accommodate her were in vain. I constantly went the extra mile for her and she would not do the same for me. I was crushed and heartbroken before the relationship even ended. But this story has a happy ending. I felt so much better when I finally came to my senses and ended such a toxic relationship. My time is precious, my feelings matter, and I deserved better. It was such a blessing to free of such heartache. I have used this relationship as a crucial learning experience, especially in moving forward in my love life.

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If it is to be, It is Up to Me

Power is an important and pervasive influence in interpersonal interactions. I have learned and seen that power can be used to positive or negative ends when influencing other people or (the course of) things around you. Some of these very circumstances may quite easily affect others as well. Power is an abstract asset that is earned and/or granted. In terms of earning power, I am now aware that you must gain some sort of power currency. I understand that power is actually some sort of “social wealth”.  Out of the five power currencies, I am conscious that I possess only two. I am an average university student of African-American descent who comes from humble beginning.  I was not born into wealth, nor have I not reached the point in my life to where I have amassed my own wealth. I lack the resource currency. As an undergraduate , I am still in the process of developing my own trade or expertise that I will benefit from when I find my career. I do not have expertise currency. Lastly, I do not have the luxury of having influential/powerful in my immediate social network. In other words I do not have social network currency and intimacy either. I am a modest fellow only endowed with personal currency.

My personality, my character traits, are my only social assets. I am an introverted intellectual as well as a man of charisma. I am a kind, and nurturing soul who loves using his force of personality (personal currency) for receiving others as well as making them feel comfortable. Despite being so introspective, I have a gentle way of speaking with others and making myself heard whenever a situation warrants it. I stand out because of the strong character I uphold  Despite lacking most power currencies, I am still very happy with the one that I am blessed with. Although I don’t have capital, a vocation, or powerful associates, I feel that my personal currency is all I need. I believe that this is especially true if I aspire to acquire any of the other four currencies. I feel that can be extended to others outside of myself. One’s personality and being can pave the way for them acquiring financial resources, developing their own profession, and building their own social network. If anyone has the sine qua non of personal currency that they can certainly achieve all five currencies in due time. It all starts with self. After all, nothing worth having ever comes easy.

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Mom Always Knows

Through and through, I actually do believe that eyes are the windows of the soul. The eyes are the visual channel which we use consciously or subconsciously to look into another’s inner/personal realm, or psyche. I find kinesics to be the most powerful form of nonverbal communication. The visual channel is a strong dimension through which we can relay so much information to another during the process of communicating with others. . In fact, Eye contact is another crucial but often unnoticed feature in interpersonal communication, let alone body language. The simple dilation of the pupils, or squinting of our eyes can tell so much. Our eyes can be used to signal a wide variety of positive or negative emotion. I have come to realize in my experience that we tend to have better, more, stronger, eye contact with those we value and deeply care about. For example, eye contact is important with my mother. To tell the truth, my degree of eye contact is probably the highest with her. As a child, my mother taught me that eye contact is important especially when it came to instilling obedience in me.  Eye contact was enforced even harder with her during the instances where I would be scolded by her to pay attention. Through her I learned that eye contact displays that I am focused on her and what she has to say. Whenever my mother was displeased with my behavior or sought to make herself heard, she would use her eyes to shoot a petrifying glare at me. In turn, I unwittingly internalized this trait to express my emotions. I have learned several facial expressions from my mother and their effectiveness all derive from the eyes. Today, as an adult, I have realized that eye contact has and currently fulfills the purpose of building trust with a loved one. My high degree eye contact with my mom or any other close relative or friend, shows that I have a connection with them. It may even suggest that I trust and feel comfortable with them. Eye contact is so much more than a social phenomenon. It is the bridge for two psyches to meet ,interact, and resonate with each other.

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What is in a Name?

Names are a feature of everyday life that may easily be taken for granted. Unbeknownst to many names are actually symbols. But honestly, what is a name?? Names are terms we use to identify people, places, and things. In relation to people, names have the most value. My name is a symbol that represents who I am. My name is my quintessence. Not only is it the objective and/or subjective property of my being, but it is also both an intrinsic and central part of my very being. Through and through, our names define us.  My given name, or legal name, that I was ascribed at birth, distinguishes me just as much as it identifies me. Over and above that, names are symbols that we use to communicate meaning about what we value in our culture. My given name is a proper example of this fact. I was born into a Christian family and due to my family’s religious devotion it is no surprise that my name is of Biblical origin. Joshua in Hebrew means “Jehovah (God) is Salvation.” This situation is a result of one of the characteristics of verbal communication: that language is cultural. The phenomenon of naming only proves that language and cultures are, essentially, intertwined. As aforementioned, names are powerful symbols that are fundamental to all of us. It is often hard to change such a property of us that is both essential and static in our existence. The only instance that I can think of in which I would change (part of) my legal name is for the sake of marriage. In other words, I would only do so in the event that my spouse and I agreed on changing our legal surnames for sharing a different surname of our choice. In the event that my spouse and I cannot reach or find a surname that we both agree name, I also totally am amenable to hyphenating my surname. I hope to be a very liberal and down-to-earth spouse, so the matter of naming actually would not matter a huge deal to me. I believe that a crucial part of marriage is compromise. I am more than open to compromising my attitudes, values, and beliefs with those of my spouse for the sake of creating a happy and fulfilling future with her. Still, Nonetheless, my name is still important to me and who I am.

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A Cry on Deaf Ears

From my teen years onward, not only have I learned not only the value of having your voice heard but also listening to others. I have learned that there is a difference between hearing someone and actually listening to them. Despite it being taken for granted , Listening is actually a deep and intricate process that is beneficial to communication. I feel that active listening is the best practice of empathy. When we listen to others we tune into and take notice of what is someone is expressing to us verbally and nonverbally. When some sort of a mutual understanding is reached, I feel that conflict or distress may be averted. In other words, I feel that a resolution can be reached by using active listening. One would think that active listening would be easier and happen more frequently among people that you are closer to, like friends and family. But we are all only human and prone to error of all sorts. Recently, when I tried to convey something important to friends of mine, my plea fell on deaf ears.
My friends and I are very laid back and “cool” with each other. We frequently joke around with each other and openly discuss a wide variety of topics. However, in spite of this, I am called the “saint” of the group because I am the most reserved. Our main channel of communication is a group text on our cell phones. My friends have a habit of “roasting” each other, or using light-hearted insults to tease and amuse the group in good humor. However this seems to get out of hand every now and then. Sometimes, my friends go too far with their humor.  Two of my friends made a very awful “joke” about cancer by wishing it on another friend in the group text. That really struck a nerve in me for a number of reasons. I am a compassionate human being with the sense to NEVER joke around about something so terrible. I immediately expressed my disapproval and disgust at what my friends said. I did so politely but solemnly. I expressed to one of my friends how cancer is not a joke. It is not a joke whenit literally eats away at you, literally takes your life. When it robs you of your loved ones and devastates family. I expressed that I have seen friends and family suffer from cancer and that joke was extremely offensive. I went as far to divulge that I lost my father to cancer at a very young age. Upon releasing all this to my friends, I received negative feedback. I got no apology for their misdeed or assurance that they would never make such jokes again. I got a dry, “Okay, for sure”.
This negative feedback upset me further, adding insult to injury. I haven’t spoken with these friends since. From this incident I have learned that negative feedback has the capacity to be destructive and not constructive. Never upon insulting someone have I been so curt and unyielding.

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Emoticons: The Marriage of Language and Technology

If there is anything that I have learned in my adult years, it is that humans are dependent on culture. We are social creatures that thrive on communication. Symbols are a crucial part of the human dimension. In fact, they are the basis of human communication. Where animals communicate via signs, humans communicate by means of symbols. Where signs illicit pointless responses that are devoid of consciousness, symbols go even deeper on the mental level. Symbols can have various meanings meant to evoke different responses.  From a very young age, we learn and develop skill in communicating with symbols. It goes without saying that symbols are important to we social creatures, known as human beings. Another important feature of our daily lives today is social media. It has a reach almost as vast as that of culture itself. Just as language, an intangible part of our culture, evolves so does technology, a tangible part of culture. A phenomenon in the realm of human communication that merges these two concepts is the emoticon. These symbols are developing a more significant role in communication. Simple variations and combinations of letters on a keyboard can be used to create a range of symbols that convey feelings or tone. Emoticons are a product of the 1990s, and the newest model of emoticons are Emojis. Where emoticons expressed feeling and tones, emojis are actually digital images/icons in miniature that go as far as expressing ideas. I , myself, use emojis on a daily basis when communicating with my friends and family. It is fair to say , and admit, that I am strung out on Emojis. Emojis, the newest mode of our digital hieroglyphics, are popular in casual or informal speech. When speaking with others casually I tend to try to exude an upbeat and content mien. For doing so, I use the commonplace “smiling face with squinting eyes” emoji to show good cheer or the “laughing with tears of joy” for an exaggerated display of laughter and good humor. As a self-confessed Emoji addict, I feel that my informal communication would not be as effective. I feel that communicating with emojis would make my dialogue very dry and insipid. Emojis are  small convenient media that easily go further than words can in conveying sentiments and notions. I wonder what the next mode of emoticons will be or how just how far Emojis will go.

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Someone Else’s Shoes

At heart, I would like to believe that I am a good person. I feel that I am a decent upstanding citizen who not only does his fair share to live in a happy and meaningful life, but also to make the world a better place, for the sake of others. When it comes to communicating or interacting with others I make a strong effort to understand them or share their feelings. To the core I feel that I am an empath. However to assess my empathy fairly, I took the Self-Quiz in the textbook. Fortunately, my total score was 4 out of 5, which indicates high empathy. I scored very high (with 4s and 5s) on the category regarding “Perspective-Taking” and the category regarding “Empathic Concern”. This Self-Quiz really had me thinking deeply about myself and how I receive others in a variety of situations. Overall, I believe that I am a rather supportive companion who tries to stay relaxed and open-minded in any interpersonal occassion. I am very emotionally intelligent and make a strong effort to express my good intentions through both of my verbal and nonverbal communication. I have come to realize that those who have suffered a lot tend to have huge hearts. In spite of the ordeals I have triumphed and the pain I have endured in the past, they have only made me a stronger and more compassionate person.  I feel I could best connect with others emotionally in their times of woe, particularly when it comes to any form of rejection or abandonment. In fact, in recent memory, I recall helping my friend prevail through being rejected and having his heart broken. I , too, have experienced the same sort of misery , on multiple occasions. Because I care about my friend and his wellbeing very much, I made sure I made that clear to him. I was very discreet with my words and actions to him regarding his plight. Not only did I sparingly remind him of how things were not meant to be between him and his crush, but I also tried to assuage him of how awesome he was. He’s currently doing a lot better now and he told me that he was grateful for my support. Although, I have a huge heart I find difficulty in empathizing properly when it comes to loss. We all grieve and mourn differently. As a result, I tend to struggle with finding the exactly perfect words to say to help someone feel much better while they are lamenting. I have experienced loss a few times, but I grieve and mourn at my own pace too. In spite of that, I still try to reach out those who are experiencing something so awful. Whether I make them feel much better or a little bit better, I feel it is thought that counts. I show that I am a kind soul by putting others before myself. I understand the value of empathy.