Category Archives: Communication

for my Intro to Interpersonal Communication class

Watching Your Words, Day 0-2: The Final Words

The-End-is-Near-2     It’s been a joy, dear reader. This is the last of the last of the blog posts, although I may just follow up from time to time. This has definitely been one of the more interesting of the three topics, because it’s the one I struggle with the most. But what have I learned? Where are the accomplishments? Have I succeeded with  my goals? Will Batman ever escape the clutches of the felonious fowl, the Penguin?
But I digress.
I believe that this one is about half and half. I am definitely more aware, now, of the flaws that I have in my issues with words. I know that I can be sarcastic-that this is my default mechanism. I know that I have issues with being tactful, because I am a harsh worded individual. I also know that I have issues with being honest, tied into my tactfulness because I need to learn how to speak nicely, while still being firm and assertive.
The one thing I have definitely improved on is my sarcasm. I have taken great efforts to not be quite so sarcastic and sly, and it has helped in numerous areas. It’s good to know that my taking action has resulted in something positive. I still need work in being tactful, and therefore being willing to be honest, but it’s coming along. I am most certainly trying. I don’t believe anything has gotten worse since the beginning of this class.

Overall, I can say that my communication has improved drastically since the start of the school year. This class has given me an understanding of communication that I have never had before. It has also made me so much more aware of my own communication style, and has helped me improve things that otherwise may have gone on for years. Now, I can continue to strive towards bettering myself in terms of interpersonal communication. Things can only go up from here!stock-footage-the-end-signs


Watching Your Words, Day 12: Honestly, What’s Good Honesty?


     It is a hard, hard thing to be honest about your feelings. I have learned this. I don’t know why, but I get myself into numerous situations where what I’m feeling, in that moment, is something that completely contradicts whatever is going on and will undoubtedly make things worse. Put on top of that that the situations are often high-stakes, it’s a hard thing  to be honest.
     Where is the line where being open and honest stops? Is it ever okay to keep your feelings inside, sometimes, for the sake of the other person? I don’t know.
This is one thing that I struggle with, honestly. 

Get it? 

     1 Peter 3:10-12 says that “For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (ESV).  This is speaking, of course, to the sin of lying-and I believe that when one doesn’t tell the truth, it is the same as a lie. So in this regard I feel it is wrong to lie, and lately I have been focusing on being more honest-actually admitting when something is wrong, or telling someone how I really feel. But then this gets me into trouble too (it’s situation specific, but nonetheless). On the whole, however, I feel it is better to be honest about my emotions than to deceive someone. I think my problem goes back to my lack of tactfulness. I do not know how to be honest without being brutally honest, which is a problem. I think, that if I learn how to be honest in a more loving manner, things will go better for me. 
     For example. I was in a discussion with someone and they asked me if I wanted to work it (a difficult situation) out. At the time, I honestly wasn’t sure, and I said so. I made sure to say that it was just in that moment, but I really couldn’t answer one way or another. The person was upset by this, and I felt at a loss. I didn’t want to lie. But I don’t want to hurt people,either. I think that overall it worked for the best-I talked myself through it, got some sleep, and today had a decision that was more favorable. I have been learning that honesty is very valuable to people. I just have to learn how to tell the truth in a more uplifting, positive way. But this goes back to my last blog-sometimes, the truth just hurts. And in that case I can’t feel TOO bad, because I was being truthful. 

     I have no resolution to this, and I am not sorry. Honestly, I have way more questions about this than solid answers. It’s a topic that I am going to have to just learn about, and from, as I grow in life and with different experiences. I do know, however, that I want to be an honest person. I just need to figure out how. 

Watching Your Words, Day 11: Saying the Hard Things


     It is an extremely hard thing when we have to give bad news, or tell a hurtful truth to someone. How do you go about saying something hurtful without it coming out mean? This is a hard thing to learn, and I don’t even know that I have it down at all. But I have been learning how to try. Breaking bad news, or telling someone something that could be hurtful, takes a good balance of effective and appropriate messages. This means getting your point across, with an appropriate amount of tact and good judgement. For me, my messages seem to fall into the either/or categories. I can tell and effective message, but it may come across as blunt and unfeeling. Or I can say the “right” appropriate message, but it’s a watered-down version of what I’d actually like to say. It’s a tricky thing to do, find the center of the two.
But there are some extremes to avoid.
     There is the extreme of saying the appropriate thing, but not the truthful thing-just accommodating  someone so you don’t hurt their feelings. This is bad for a few reasons. One, they won’t know that what they are doing is really hurting you, or offending you in some way. Two, it establishes in their head that whatever it is, it’s okay-which may cause problems in the future. Three, it isn’t good for you, because you may still feel upset at whatever they are doing, and they won’t know why. It causes a lot of miscommunication when you just let someone do something, so you don’t have to talk about the subject. A step towards good communication is being willing to talk about the things that personally bother you, or things that may not be pleasant to discuss. 
     The other extreme is being completely blunt with a person and saying everything you feel. This causes a few problems as well. One, it may make the other person feel inferior, like they aren’t able to do anything right. Two, it imbalances the relationship towards you-in an unhealthy manner of controlling. And three, it may make the other person feel like they can’t do/say things around you, for fear of harsh criticism. This can also cause them to accommodate YOU, which leads to the misconception that everything is fine, even when it isn’t. It also may mean that they don’t want you to be their bearer of bad news-even if you mean well, a harsh, blunt demeanor is very off-putting to people. 

     It’s a fine line to walk-but there is a good balance in being truthful, and being appropriate and nice about it. This goes back to being assertive-being able to state your position, while acknowledging the other person and respectfully disagreeing. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence to know when the right time in a conversation it is to say something hard. Sometimes, it’s something that may not need to be brought up. Other times, it may need to be out in the open in order for a conflict or misunderstanding to be resolved. It just takes diligence and a lot of good listening to figure out if now is the time to bring up a particular subject, or later, or whatever. Hard truths and bad news are delicate subjects. It just takes some time to figure out when and where and how to say it. Personally, I struggle with this kind of thing. I am not a particularly tactful guy, and a lot of things I say might be taken differently if I knew how to word it, or when to say it. It’s something that I at least know now, and am starting to work on. Good things will come, eventually. It just takes practice. 


Effective/appropriate messages: messages that achieve the goals you and your partner have for the interaction, that conform to the social/relational/ethical expectations of the situation. 
accommodating: resolving a conflict by satisfying the other person’s needs or accepting the other person’s ideas while neglecting one’s own needs or ideas. 
emotional intelligence: the ability to monitor your own and others’ emotions and to use this information to guide your communications. 


Watching Your Words, Day 10: Explanation is Key


     This is how I feel all the time. The top part-the simple explanation-is in my head. Then, when I try and say it to someone else, it comes out like the bottom part-all mixed up, jumbled around, until I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. You see, to me, there is a specific way that my brain works-same as everyone. But in my head, I can handle things a certain way that don’t always sit well with others. Because I know what I mean, and the feelings and intentions behind my train of thought, it makes sense. That doesn’t translate to other people-because they don’t know the internal thought and emotion that’s behind it. What my challenge is, is to take my simple thoughts from the top part and make them work outside my own head. 

     One problem with my explanations is that a lot of them are extemporaneous– that is to say, spur of the moment. A lot of times someone will ask me to explain what I mean, and I have to come up with the explanation then and there. This is the first problem. I already know what I’m thinking to myself, so I don’t think really about WHY I feel that way. Then, when someone else asks, I have to scramble to think of some way to explain what I already just know in my head. Lately, I’ve been trying to implement STEMS (See the first blog in this series for a refresher), which helps me to slow down and think before I speak. It’s helped some, but I still have troubles. 
     Another problem that I have in explaining things is that I like to figure them out as I go along. I have a habit of thinking through everything first, and then coming to whatever explanation or conclusion I have to give. I know this has been confusing especially with my girlfriend, as we have been discussing some serious matters lately and my answers have definitely been confusing. In my head it makes sense-I know what my bottom line is. But I don’t communicate that well to her, and my thinkings and perusings are oftentimes more hurtful than helpful. I believe it would help me to formally state, BEFORE I begin, that these are just thoughts-that it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the explanation or conclusion I will give. I think that may help as well. 
     Lastly, I know I have troubles with not being other-centered about my statements and thinking. As I said in the opening, I KNOW how things are going in my own head, and therefore I make the mistake of thinking that everyone around me will understand just as I do. Then, when they don’t, I get frustrated even though it’s my own fault. Again, I think STEMS can help with this-slowing down, thinking through my statement…what I really need to do is evaluate whether this is a statement that will only make sense to me, or if there is something I can do to help this make sense to others. 

Overall, I think I have improved in this area a little bit. It’s definitely something I can work on, and I do plan to. 



extemporaneous: uttered in the spur of the moment, without any lengthy pre-planning. 
other-centered messages: communications that focus on the needs of the person requiring support through active listening and expressions of compassion, understanding, and encouragement. 


Watching Your Words, Day 9: On the Decline…


      There are some people who just don’t care what others think. They go out, and do their thing, and speak their mind. They say exactly what they feel and they don’t care what others may think about it. It seems to work for them, and sometimes I wonder if it would work for me. I could be more assertive. I could say what I want to. 
     Of course, I know that this would cause major problems. I know that I have a tendency to be sarcastic. Lately I have noticed that I’ve been increasingly sarcastic with my roommates. At first, I didn’t quite think of it as a problem, but as I look back I can see that it has definitely been a recurring issue. My mind just will automatically go to come up with a sarcastic response, and that’s not healthy. I cannot let this continue. But in order to move forward, I should look at the root of the issue itself first.
 I think that part of the problem is that I feel I need to exemplify the masculine culture that this society has fostered. If I am always nice all the time, I am not really that much of a “man”-because I am not asserting myself, and letting the other men walk all over me. Now, this isn’t actually the case, but it may subconsciously exist that way in my head. Another reason for it is the perception that if I am not sarcastic, or joking, I won’t fit in with them. Again-I don’t think that way in my mind, but it is a feeling just below the surface. And so lately, I have been making more and more jokes lately. It’s not fun. When I step back and look at myself, that is not the kind of person that I want to be. I need to be able to watch and check myself more frequently, in my head, when I talk to people.

Overall, things have been getting better. This past week or so has just been a bit of a down week. I’ll bounce back!


Masculine culture: a culture in which men are expected to adhere to traditional sex roles. 
perception: the process of attending to, organizing, and interpreting the information that we receive through our senses. 

Watching Your Words, Day 8: The Breakfast Club: The Kids


This movie-The Breakfast Club-is all about communication. Five kids who may know eachother from school but don’t KNOW each other, they spend a good amount of a Saturday together in detention. You’re bound to get to know someone by the end of it. Now, being high schoolers, they aren’t necessarily focused on the finer points of interpersonal communication. Each of the teens here has their own unique way of communicating-as do we all, they are just amplified given the situation. Bender is one to be very aggressive and brash-often presenting the other students with hard questions that show little regard for their personal disclosure-privacy dialect. In a roundabout way, however, these questions actually begin to prompt others to open up about themselves and reveal things that we otherwise may have never known.  You have Andrew, the athlete, who although he appears to be very confident in himself, is actually revealed to be one who complies with others a lot of the time-he accomodates much more than he asserts himself. Brian has a preoccupied attatchment style. Because of his parent’s constant pressure, Brian communicates to try and ensure that he is fitting in with the rest of the group-making sure that he’s agreeing with what they are saying, that they end up liking him. Allison is just introverted-speaking out at odd times. She has a sort of passive aggressive way of communicating..wanting people to come in but easily being hurt when she does open up. And Claire tries to separate herself from the rest, but becomes very defensive and loud when questions are asked that she doesn’t want to answer. 
The hodgepodge accumulation of all these different personalities and communication styles made for a very interesting conflict in the movie. Eventually, though, the teens come together and sort of make it work. It’s a great example of finding ways to communicate, even with people who are so different from you and who don’t respond to things the way you do. It makes me think-just because I communicate a certain way, and think that way, doesn’t mean that all people do. It doesn’t mean that everyone will respond to me how I think they should. 

I think, once I realize this, that I will be better able to watch the things I say, and try and apply them to others, as well as myself. 


disclosure-privacy dialect:tension between sharing personal information and keeping personal information confidential.
accommodating: resolving a conflict by satisfying the other person’s needs or accepting the other person’s ideas while neglecting one’s own needs or ideas. 
preoccupied attachment style: an adult attachment style characterized by low self-worth and high trust in others.

Watching Your Words, Day 7: The Breakfast Club-The Parents


I just watched The Breakfast Club, for a project for this class that I have to present tomorrow.
But I digress.
This movie is so full of communication issues that it is a perfect movie for this class!
This part one is going to discuss the one part of the movie, if any, that is somewhat overlooked-the communication that the kids each have with their parents. It’s the scene where each of the kids is being dropped off for detention. It’s obvious each kid has some sort of abusive relationship with their parent. Let’s run down the list.
-Bender didn’t even come with a parent. This speaks to the big lack of communication in that household-later on, we get a hint that Bender has a physically and verbally abusive relationship with his father. Bender is very forward with his communication, and he probably gets his brashness from his father-who also seems to speak his mind.
-Andrew Clark has a father who keeps yelling at him before sending him to detention. The indexical function of that relationship showed that Andrew’s dad was completely in control of that relationship. He was verbally aggressive and didn’t give his son a chance to speak for himself. That explains why Andrew is so passive aggressive; willing to get in a fight but still listening to everybody else.
-Allison seems to be neglected by her parents (they pull off as she tries to say goodbye). It would appear, as she alludes to later on, that they never associate with her or communicate with her at all. This explains why she speaks with such deliberation and lies, because she needs attention that she never got via communication from her parents.
-Brian Johnson has parents that constantly badger him to do better in school-we see the mom yelling at him to do homework in detention, even though they can’t. He is much quieter and eager to please, because the communication he receives tells him that that’s what he needs to do.
-Claire Standish has a dad that’s opposite all the other parents-he coddles her and gives her everything she wants. She, too, says later on that her parents fight amongst each other and use her just as a pawn-not treating her well because they love her, but because their own communication is falling apart as well.

I talk about it in my presentation, but throughout the movie you see that these kids don’t know how to communicate well. This isn’t just because they are messed up; they never had any good communication at home to learn from.


abusive relationship: a relationship in which the interactions are physically, mentally, or emotionally harmful to one or both partners.
indexical function: embedded in the communication messages that are exchanged in a relationship are measures of who is in control, how much partners trust each other, and the level of intimacy in the relationship.
verbally aggressive: sending messages that attack another person’s self-esteem or express personal hostility for perceived violations of rights or expectations.