Feedback! Not Bad…. :)

August 11, 2008

A course on learning how to communicate, I never thought I would take such a class. I’ve always found myself involved in different groups, clubs, and sport teams where I have been the one in charge. I’ve noticed how my peers always seemed to look at me when they looked for leadership. This has given me confidence on my ability to communicate, but I now see how at times I have been mislead by this sense of confidence (too much “holding my own ground” I guess). There is always room to improve (on pretty much everything). Learning how to communicate in this online environment has had its benefits but its faults as well. 

As it has been mentioned above, we all started the class like we would start any other, with the simple intention of getting a good grade. Of course the subject seemed interesting (and it is), but my focus was to get in and out with a good grade. I see now how all these concepts have changed (some more than in others) the way we all communicate with each other and how we communicate in our everyday lives. We seem to be more attentive, caring, and careful when responding to each other.  Having these conversations in a classroom would have been much different because of the “image” that we all tend to protect when speaking “face to face”. I’ve noticed how students in classrooms really don’t pay much attention to each other’s comments or ignore them, there isn’t a sense to “hold your ground” and possibly embarrass yourself. We are also not very “open to the openness” of others in a classroom environment.  Sadly, students just want to go to class, get credit for it, and pass it (hopefully with a good grade). This online environment, along with the “open” conversations that we all have, has allowed us to really try these new communication concepts without having to worry about looking bad or embarrassing ourselves (especially with our Fake Names).

So what isn’t working? I would have to say the understanding of some of these concepts. I agree with what Memphisburns mentions above “There are a few concepts in this course that are, more or less, abstract – if not conceptually then certainly in practice.”  Even when the lectures are online, giving us the opportunity to read them as many times as we like, sometimes I need it in a different “wording” in order to fully understand the concept. Reading confusing material over and over is not helping me understand it and can be frustrating at times. This is when a “face to face” conversation with the professor or classmates can be beneficial.

Overall, I would have to say that I have been surprised by the level of writing that I have seen in the class. It seems like most of us are taking these different concepts at a personal level when we write about them, which is good for a “real” conversation (expressing the tension of “holding you own ground”). I feel that what we have learned so far has made us aware of the tension of “being open to the openness of others”. For example learning how to listen in a successful manner, “nexting”, and being aware of the stereotypes that we all practice without knowing it, has made our communications encounters less selfish than what they would have been when we started this course.

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Tensions?

August 10, 2008

Tensions?

The article “Dialogue’s Basic Tension” by Zediker and Stewart discusses how a “dialogue involves the negotiation of a variety of tensions”  (593). These “tensions” are “holding my own ground” and “being open to the openness of others”. If one of these “tensions” does not exist in the effort to communicate then the attempt to dialogue can be considered unsuccessful. There must be a certain balance between the two.  An example in the article that shows a clear difference between both “tensions” is about an encounter with a homeless person. A person that only “holds their ground” can report where he saw the homeless person, what the homeless said to the person as they passed by, and even how she smelled (588). A person that is “open to the openness of others” would experience the encounter with the homeless person without any stereotypes or expectations; the person might recall “your eyes meeting and feeling for just that moment the connection that you and her (the homeless person) have as humans beings despite the very real differences in your senses of security and community” (588).

 

From my teammate’s, Ninjacook, blog entry I can identify a tension of “being open to the openness of others” but not so much “holding my own ground”. Ninjacook presented great examples on how each team member indentified ways of using what they have learned in class in order to make the group project a successful one, but he did not seem to tie together his personal thoughts on the subject with what he had just learned from his teammates.  In one instance he indeed showed a tension of “holding his own ground”.  Ninjacook mentioned that I (gym411) seemed “to subscribe to the “laid-back” approach” and that this was unfortunate for him (because he likes to have a sense of urgency for his work).  But actually, this is unfortunate for me as well! (I also like having the sense of urgency!)  J There was a misunderstanding between our blogs, and because of this I was confused at his attempt to “hold his own ground”.

 

My other teammate, Spiceynoodlesoup, showed both “tensions” (well to me at leastJ).  He started his blog by saying: “All of my teammates recognized the importance of being “open” when workings as a group.” This is his way of “holding his ground”; by expressing that all the teammates shared his own idea as well.  Spiceynoodlesoup then was “open to the openness of others” by explaining everyone’s point of view, and recalling a problem and I (gym411) had with previous groups: “These skills will steer us clear of communication breakdowns similar to the experiences of Gym411, where frustration with his group led to Gym411 shutting out the other members and doing all the work alone.” Spiceynoodlesoup put himself in my position and “understood” the frustration that a bad group experience can be and offered his positive thoughts to prevent it.

 

But as it is the case for every blog/response that I write, this is just an opinion from what I understood from the article and my teammate’s blogs.  Meaning that I could have misinterpreted the article, my teammates, or both! (Hopefully I didn’t) I will keep my mind and ears open so that I can keep realizing how much I don’t knowJ. (Oh and by the way, this is still the best team!)

 

Teammates URL:

http://saboy82.wordpress.com/

http://ninjacook.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/team-ideas/

My Journey searching through the Group Dymanics

August 8, 2008

1.       Time To Decide What Will You Create?

URL:https://learning.umassonline.net/webct/urw/lc26190.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct

 

On this URL I found something similar to what we have been studying in Interpersonal Communication.  It is about the skill of being “open-minded” to different ideas. The following quote mentions how a high level of tolerance and generosity will help everyone to communicate better in a conversation: “…in order to have a conversation. We have to be more generous and tolerant than we are used to being, that we are trained to be” (Dr. Mabuse cites Jodi Dean). It is interesting how it mentions“…that we are trained to be” because it also touches upon another subject that I have discussed in this class. For example I have read about falling under the habit to stereotype others because of our own experiences in our lives (“When Miss America Was White” by Navita James. Nativa had her own stereotypes on white people because of her childhood.  Navita was “trained” to stereotype from her experiences).

 

      2. Serious “Freedom” of expression

URL:http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/serious-freedom-of-expression/

 

I chose to click on this URL because it seemed to be interesting.  The page actually just presented a “mean” joke, that some might consider being controversial and some just funny.  It made me think about the subject of expressing the “right about of “emotion” in a conversation.  How much “emotion” should we share when speaking to someone we just met? This topic, Serious “Freedom” of Expression, ties in well because this type of joke can cause too much emotion and be overwhelming to tell at a first encounter.  

 

      3. When Confusion Is the Condition

URL:https://learning.umassonline.net/webct/urw/lc26190.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct

 

After (step #2) I went back to the main page (step #1)  to search others things that caught my attention. The next topic was “When Confusion is the Condition”. The material in this lecture was very much familiar to me with this class. At times I have (and still do) feel confused at times about what I am suppose to do the assignments and how I am suppose to them. But there are others times where things seem to “slow down” from the rush on being confused, and I feel that I am actually learning something new and very interesting (and even get to apply what I am learning with my friends!). As of this group project, I am somewhat confused, but I agree with what was mentioned in the lecture : “…confusion per se is not a bad thing because I think it means we are doing new things and moving on.” (ontherecliner). I have never thought of it in that way but in some cases it’s true (it’s all about being open-minded!).

 

I guess is good to always have questions with our daily tasks, this means we are challenging ourselves to learn more and not falling back on a sense of comfort and attaching ourselves to what seems to be familiar. I find that I am contradicting myself because in the past I mentioned that it was good for groups to be grouped according to the “familiarity” with their working habits.  Maybe I was trying to avoid future conflicts in the group, or without knowing it I was trying to avoid the “feeling” of being confused or challenged by those who think differently.

The topic that interests me for the group assignment is “Communication” (e.g. by David Bohm).  This article defines many of the skills (mentioned above) that are needed in order to successfully communicate. For example, the need to Listen to others even if their ideas are completely different, trying not to influence each other with our point of views but to be sensitive to the other persons perspective and pay attention to the emotions they are trying to convey, and our level of tolerance with those who convey a sense of emotion that we may perceive as “wrong”.  

 

Of course, I am always open to new ideas! Hope you have enjoyed my “journey”.

“Rudiments of Social Intelligence”

August 7, 2008

(Summary of Article)

 

In this article the Goleman presents four components of interpersonal intelligence. These components are skills that people have that help them communicate with others, and if put all of them together the results include “…charm, social success, even charisma.” (76). The first component is “Organizing Groups” which involves the essential skills of a leader, “…this involves initiating and coordinating the efforts of a network of people.” (75). The second component is “Negotiating Solutions”. This component describes the skill to prevent conflicts or solving any that may exist. The third is “Personal Connection” which is the “talent” that people have to recognize the emotions in a group so that he/she can decide how to enter into an encounter. The fourth is “Social Analysis” which is similar to “Personal Connection” because it involves the skill of “being able to detect and have insights about people’s feelings, motives, and concerns” (76).  Adopting these components to our own communication skills can enable us to communicate with more ease with another person or a group.

 

The rest of the article then goes to explain different examples of children that have shown excellent interpersonal intelligence at their young age.  Studies have shown those children that develop these skills have a better chance of being outgoing and better in communicating when they reach adulthood. Children that do not develop their interpersonal intelligence are usually the ones who “… don’t know how to join a game gracefully, who touch others in ways that make for discomfort rather than camaraderie…” (79). Some ways to help these children are by teaching them the “essential” communicating skills that most children are taught by their parents. For example, teaching them how to say “Thank you”, “Your Welcome”, “Please”, and making eye contact.

 

Finally, by practicing these components we will not only become better communicators because of how aware it will make us about those who communicate around us but also because of all of the reasons mentioned in the following: “Those who are adept in social intelligence can connect with people quite smoothly, be astute in reading their reactions and feelings, lead and organize, and handle the disputes that are bound to flare up in any human activity.” (76).

“Meaning and Values”

August 6, 2008

(Summary Of Article)

Meaning and Values

Gerald Corey and Marianne Schenider-Corey

 

This article is what we would refer to as very “deep” but at the same time vague.  There are many topics discussed, but all are around the main topic of the “Why” we exist. Some questions presented at the beginning of the article to make us think about the topic are the following: “What direction am I moving in life? What do I have to show for my years on this earth so far? Where have I been,  where am I now, and where do I want to go?…”(84). These questions can be very overwhelming at first, but the article tries to present different ways of how to think about these questions so that the reader can somehow come to their own conclusions. In order to begin searching for an answer to these questions, people have to find their own identity. Most of us today have lost this “sense” of identity because we let the world around us control our actions even if these don’t express our desires and feelings, “In their(people) attempt to be liked and accepted by everyone, they (people) have directed their search for identity outside themselves.” (85).  Those people that do not listen to “their voice” form within come to be what is referred in the article as being “hollow people” (reminds me of the term “walking zombie”). People are obviously living, but not in a happy state sense they don’t follow their desires. The alienation of our own feelings and desires can cause us (as its happening today) to feel anxiety and depression.

 

Finding a meaning in our lives also involves the process of “self-actualizing” which is our “wanting” to make a difference in the world. We “ultimately want to make connections with others in society, and want to make a contribution” (86). Another topic mentioned is the “philosophy of life” that we all should have to challenge and change (if necessary) our behavior towards others. The “philosophy of life” is made up “of the fundamental beliefs, attitudes, and values that govern a person’s behavior.” (87). Questioning our own values and beliefs (including religion) can help us see if we are disabling ourselves from expanding our communication with others.  We can suffer the consequences (e.g. depression and anxiety) by being closed minded and letting ourselves fall “too deep” into our religion and beliefs.  It’s important to consider our own personal values and beliefs (since they define us) but it’s also important to be open to change as the world around us changes as well.

 

The end of the article presents different suggestions that we can all do in order to find our own identity. For example, finding hobbies that develop new sides of ourselves, going to plays concerts and museums, and traveling to new places (especially) to experience different cultures.

“When Miss America Was Always White”

August 6, 2008

(Summary of Article)

When Miss America Was Always White

Navita Cummings James

 

The article is about the experiences of a black woman during the 1950s.  Racism, stereotypes, and hate crimes are all discussed.  The author believes that in common history books, the “real” life of a black woman during those times is not fully told.  One way to tell the story is with her own personal experiences.  Nativa’s life struggles can be seen when she describes the murder of a black young girl by a white drunken man. The drunken white man saw the black young girl in the street and put his gun in her mouth and began to play in form of Russian roulette. The man ended up killing the girl but nothing happened to him; “Instead, White people felt pity for the man because he was drunk and had to witness his own folly, rather than for the murdered child and her family” (110). Nativa also expresses the difficulties she had growing up because of the economic issues her family had to face.  Her father was a pilot for the US Army, part of the first few black men allowed to fly planes in those days.  But when he got out of the army he could not get any pilot jobs because of the color of his skin. Instead he was offered janitor positions.  From her personal experiences with White people, Navita created her own stereotypes (during her Youth). For example, “Black people as just as good as white people-and in some ways (morally) better” and “White people are often violent and treacherous.” (113).

 

Nativa goes to explain how someone’s personal identity is constructed from their “self” and culture.  What helped her to be a successful person were her family stories, her “self” and pride of her culture were strong. Nativa learned to change her own stereotypes.  For example she learned that “…race was not a good predictor of violence-gender was; and that race was not a good predictor of intelligence-income and opportunities were.” (114). How does this article tie into communication? Nativa concludes her article by saying that “I made definitive choices about how I would relate to others.”(114). Navita chose to communicate with people with different backgrounds, including white people, and this has helped her to be the person she is today and has made her able to teach her own children about the opportunities and difficulties that awaits for them in the “real” world.

Keeping an Open Conversation… Is the Way to Go!

August 4, 2008

Team Encounter

“Nexting”

 

From the first look at my teammates blogs, I can see that we will get along very well (and will be the best team in the class!). We have members that like to find a common relationship amongst each other when working in teams and one member that is open to working with those who are similar and different to him. I am not sure if I’m suppose to keep the “real” names confidential, so I will use the blog names instead. Spicynoodlesoup expressed that he needs to communicate a “whole” message in order to communicate successfully and to avoid any confusions. This includes his thoughts, feelings, and needs: “If I communicate a partial or contaminated message to my group members, they might become confused and we will not make it to the next step”. Saboy82 shares this same idea about expressing a “whole” (or “fruitful”) message. Saboy82 says that “…in order to receive fruitful input from all team members it is vital that all ideas and comments are expressed, this will enhance the team productivity and way of thinking.”. The topic of having an “open” conversation seems to be a topic that we all share. Ninjacook wanted to work with a “diverse” group, meaning with those he shares similar thoughts with and those which he does not because of the positive outcome that it can have, “…thinking about communicating with people we don’t feel initially drawn to and also develop more meaningful communications…”.

 

Overall, the team members approach to working together seem to be a productive way to do so. I am glad that we all have an open mind before approaching the group project, this will help us in the long run.

Live an active Life!… No, I am not a trainer.

July 15, 2008

Reward yourself, live an active life.

 

          Living a healthy life has many benefits.  You can control your weight, have more energy, reduce the risks of heart disease and diabetes, and even increase you overall mental outlook (self-esteem).  Sounds like an obvious choice that everyone should make, but of course it isn’t that easy.  We all have busy schedules combining work; school, and our families, or we are just simply couch potatoes (actually one in four of us are couch potatoes! Shame on you!).  There is no magic involved; it all starts with a plan. You have to take the initiative in order to make it happen. Get motivated!  Think about medical family history that you would like to avoid or think of that special someone that you would like to impress at the beach, whatever works for you.  The proper use of a gym is a great way to get fit but again there is that one thing that keeps us all busy, Life.  Don’t let busy schedules be an excuse, you have to find an opportunity to move around and exercise your body.  For example, if it’s a nice day out walk instead of taking the bus to class and at work take the stairs not the elevator. Sitting around too much at the job or at home can harm your back and actually make you weaker since you are not using your muscles. We only have one body let’s take care of it! Set goals that can be done, keep a schedule or diary of your workouts, work out with a friend, and educate yourself on different fitness activities. I am not body builder, far from it, but so far I have experience the improvement that living an active life has done for me physically and psychologically.  Hope it works for you as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello world!

July 15, 2008

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