Am am at the end of my Communications 215 course at the lovely College of Charleston. At the beginning of the course I asked to kind of evaluate what kind of a person I was, and how I communicate.
Not much has changed in the way that I communicate, but now I can more readily identify my communication style. We talked a lot about gender in the course and how different gender is from sex. At the start of the class I thought gender was a very biological thing, but the more I learned, the more I understood that gender is more how we are, not what we are.
There are a lot of aspects about me that are very masculine. I am blunt, opinionated, and goal oriented, but I have some feminine speaking characteristics as well. For instance, I often use language to establish equality with other by using statements like, “I know how you feel,” and, “I have been through the same thing.”
This course has really helped me feel good about embracing the feminine aspects of what makes me, me. I believe that there is no one on earth that is completely male or female. We all have different styles of communicating and different ways of being and we are the way we are because of how we were raised and the things we have experienced in our lives.
Over the course of this past year I have made it a point to become more comfortable with just being alone with myself. I have started going to movies, dinners, and other activities alone. In the past I never really enjoyed being by myself. I was constantly hungry for human interaction, and I still am in many ways, but I learned to enjoy keeping myself company. When I took the time to just be with myself I learned more about me.
I have flaws, as does everyone, and I used to think that it was my goal in life to eliminate them, but to hell with that. I am still trying to come to terms with my cons and quirks, but overall I am more content with them. For instance, I can be a real obstinate jerk sometimes. I can be really stubborn and fight for what I want. Many may see this as a bad thing, but from this class I learned that there are benefits to this style. It can be useful in goal oriented situations in that I always have my eye on the prize and will find a way to attain it. Yeah, there are downsides to it too, but hey that’s who I am.
At the end of the day, I have to go to bed in this skin, so I might as well be comfortable in it.
I am going to talk about my Blog’s name sake theory and how it pertains to me, Preserving Face. Face is the self-image that we want to present to others, and it also take into account that we realize other people are trying to maintain their face as well.
What do we do when we mess up and show a side of ourselves that we don’t feel reflects who we are? Corrective facework. Corrective facework consists, “of messages that an individual can use to restore one’s own face of help another restore face.” So say I am too drunk at a party and do something embarrassing. I will try to restore my face by, say, not drinking so much, apologizing to the host, or making excuses for myself.
One thing that we need to be very aware of nowadays is how we present ourselves on the internet. Many people use the net with reckless abandon and post any banal thought that slips into their head, or perhaps suggestive pictures. I am guilty of having a couple too many party pictures on my Facebook, but nothing out of the ordinary really (see I’m preserving my face right there). One TA from my Comm 215 class did research on me via the internet to see what she could dig up. She said that for the most part my online self is alright, but that I may want to watch what pictures of me are online.
I don’t really think of myself as a big party animal and don’t mind being seen with a drink in my hand online. I am 21 and legally allowed to drink and I sometimes like to cut loose and be a little wild (not in the sense of abusing alcohol, just being a lively party person). I think that the face I show online is appropriate enough, but when it comes time for job interviews I will do a bit of editing.
Dr. John M. Gottman has done extensive research in the field of marriage and more importantly divorce. He has studied couples and how the argue, or get along, for years and has become incredibly accurate in predicting what coupes will stay together, and which ones aren’t “meant to be”. Gottman can predict with 87% accuracy which couples will stay together or get divorced within 4-6 years, and 81% within 7-9 years of marriage.
Although Gottman mainly studied married couples, much o
f his research, and advice, pertains to couples that aren’t married as well. Gottman points out what he likes to call the “4 Horsemen of Conflict” which are essentially the warning signs for a couple likely to fail. In an earlier blog post I wrote about a past relationship I had with a person if have dubbed “Skeletor”. I will use our relationship once more to help explain the 4 horsemen of conflict in a relationship.
1. Criticism: It is one thing to complain about an action that someone does that you don’t like, and another to attack their character. When I was with Skeletor our first fights were very tame and about small problems that we could easily label, or point out, like, “I wish you wouldn’t take so long to get ready to go out.” or other harmless problems, but during the period of our relationship when things were really rocky I would accuse her of being selfish or too emotionally distant. The main difference between these types of arguments is that in the later case I was criticizing how she was and not what she did.
2. Defensiveness: Defensiveness is really common. People don’t like to be the party that is in the wrong so they will sometimes pass the blame back to their significant other. Sometimes, if I were asking Skeletor to try and be more open with me she would retort by saying that I was too demanding. We both were guilty of this at times because neither of us wanted to be in the wrong. I remember when she had so rough stuff going on in her life (with substance abuse mainly). I would try and talk to her, and I guess attempt to help her out, and she would deny that she had a problem and accuse me of being too uptight. Yes, that is a normal reaction, but also not too healthy for a couple, according to Gottman.
3. Contempt: This one is a given. You feel contempt for someone when you have lost respect for them. In my opinion this is the most painful horseman. It is still a touchy subject for me to go into detail about this as it pertains to this relationship, but in a nutshell at the very end of it, we had nothing but contempt for one another. We couldn’t stand each other as people and any love we once had for one another had gone. I know, pretty sad right?
4: Stonewalling: The final horseman is stonewalling. This is when a someone withdraws and begins to cut off communication with their SO. In my last post involving Skeletor I mentioned a period of time in our relationship filled with awkward silence. There just wasn’t anything left to say to each other really.
When all of these ingredients are combined, you are, essentially, left with a recipe for disaster, according to Dr. Gottman. It would be smart to look out for these signs if you are in a relationship and do something about it if you see them occur.
Author’s note: The name “Skeletor” is not meant to be an attack in any way. I just thought it was really funny to pick such an arbitrary name for someone whose anonymity I wanted to protect. It’s for the LOLs.
According to blifaloo.com a microexpression is, “a momentary involuntary facial expression — that people unconsciously display when they are hiding an emotion. They are quick & intense expressions of concealed emotion.”
Microexpressions are very quick and sometimes hard to pick up on. The research shows that some people are better than others at picking up on them. For those who are good at reading them, microexpressions can be very telling and have the potential to tell a lot about the person sending them. I did a microexpression test on BBC’s website to try and decipher whether a smile was fake or genuine. Out of 20 questions I got 18 correct, which is pretty good. You can take the smile test at this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/smiles/
With smiles, research shows that genuine ones trigger some involuntary muscle contractions especially in the eyes and the cheeks. The thing with microexpressions is that they are involuntary therefor if you are good at reading them, like Tim Roth’s character Dr. Lightman in the hit show Lie to Me, the theory is that they never lie, however some scholars disagree with this statement.
Author of the microexpression article on blifaloo.com believes that, “An [sic] important thing to remember about micro-expressions is that they only show what someone is feeling…not whether they lying per-se, and not what they are thinking. The micro-expression only tells you their knee-jerk emotional state.” This is just another opinions however.
I think that microexpressions can be very powerful if you are truly good at reading them, but you should also take them with a grain of salt and not outright accuse someone of lying if their expressions don’t match their statements.
Meeting new people is always fun. Whenever I meet someone new it always feels like an interview at first. This is natural though according to Berger and Calabrese, communication theorists. In their Uncertainty Reduction Theory they state, basically, that when you have a high level of uncertainty about someone, you will try and reduce it. There is no other time when you are more uncertain of someone that when you first meet them. I am going to go through Berger and Calabrese’s 8 axioms of uncertainty and how they pertain to me and a new person I will call “J” when we first met.
Axiom 1. As verbal communication increases, you uncertainty levels decrease and your communication increases. I first met J at Kulture Klash last year and we exchanged information. We set a date to meet up at a local bar the next week. When we met up our conversation was mainly the basics, i.e. where are you from, do you go to school, etc. The more we spoke the less uncertain of each other we were and we hung out more.
Axiom 2. As welcoming nonverbal cues increase, uncertainty decreases. After a short while J and I would hug when we met, high five, and all the other basic friend nonverbals. As a result, we were more comfortable with one another, therefor uncertainty levels dropped.
Axiom 3. The more uncertainty there is, the more info seeking behaviors you use, and vice-versa. When I didn’t know much about J I asked a lot of question to find out more about her. I learned she was from Florida and she has a brother, etc. As my uncertainty about her decreased I asked less questions like this.
Axiom 4. If uncertainty levels are high, intimacy levels are lower and vice-versa. This doesn’t really pertain to J and my relationship, but it is good to know that the more you know about someone, the more intimate you can be.
Axiom 5. The more uncertain you are about someone, the more reciprocal communication you will use with them. When J and I first met we were obviously trying to figure out what the other person was all about. So there was a lot of questions that when answered, were followed up with a, “what about you?”
Axiom 6. The more similarities you share the more uncertainty will decrease. J and I found out we like a lot of the same bands and we knew a bunch of the same people.
Axiom 7. As uncertainty decreases the more you will like someone and vice-versa. This is pretty universal and it has been true about anyone I have ever met. The more you know about each other the more you like them. The more I got to know J the more I wanted to be around her and have her as a friend.
Axiom 8. The final axiom is if you have shared networks, uncertainty will decrease. We had quite a few shared networks, J and I. We knew a lot of the same people and the more we hung out the more connections we found. There were also obvious networks like: we are both in our 20’s and students.
There are a lot of different types of families out there. I’m sure a lot of you reading have unique family experiences that could compare to my own. I’m don’t intend to say that any family style is better than one another, but point of some differences both in the structure of family and how families communicate amongst themselves.
No two families are really alike. The are joint families where two families are combined, single parents, nuclear families, polyamourous families, families with homosexual parents, you name it, it’s out there. It is important to recognize that your family may not be quite like the neighbors’.
Comm scholars Ascan Koerner and Mary Anne Fitzpatrick that there are four different styles of family communication. The styles are dependent on Conversation and Conformity levels. Conversation is the degree to which family encourage and take part in conversation with one another. Conformity levels are characterized as how much freedom of opinion families have when communicating together. Based on these criteria here are the styles:
Consensual Families: Conversation is high and members of the family are encouraged to share their beliefs … that is the beliefs that the parents deem correct. Conformity levels are really high and every member is expected to keep with the status quo.
Pluralistic Families: Conversation levels are high, and conformity levels are low. Members of the family are encouraged to speak their minds, free thought is encouraged. Parents in Pluralistic families may ask their child’s opinions on important issues.
Protective Families: Conformity is high and conversation low. I think of this as the military family in that the parents are the majors and the kids are lowly pawns, expected to follow the rules and speak when spoken to.
Laissez-Faire Families: Everything is low, both conversation and conformity. If the kids are allowed to have their own opinions it is not because the parents are progressive, it’s that they don’t give a shit. Conflict rarely occurs.
read more after the jump
Message Design Logics - O’Keefe
“People who have different views about the nature and function of communication will construct different types of messages.”
According to O’Keefe there are three different Message Design Logics (MDL): Expressive, Conventional, and Rhetorical. Expressive MDL is a sender based method of communication where the sender is focused on conveying their feelings. Conventional MDL is a rule based method where the sender views communication as a series of rules. The Rhetorical MDL style focuses on communication as a negotiation tool.
I am, admittedly, an expressive MDL person. I, generally, say whatever is on my mind and use communication as a means of letting others know how I feel. This has gotten me into trouble before. I occasionally have trouble holding back what I think in the wrong situations and I have offended others as a result, but my intentions are true. I don’t mean to be offensive, I just want to speak my mind. Expressive MDL values, “openness, honesty, and clarity.” Expressive MDL communicators generally mistrust people who seem “overly strategic” in their communication. So an expressive receiver views rhetorical senders as too elaborate and they distrust them. I like to think that I don’t do this so much, but I can’t help thinking of times when I thought someone was off because of their communicating style.
One downside to being an expressive communicator is a lack of tact. I am not very good at being political in the sense that I am reckless with my speech. Conventional MDL communicators view people like me as being rude and embarrassing. I just don’t have that much shame I suppose.
The problem with two people use different MDL’s they don’t see that it is an issue of communication differences. Instead they view difficulties on bad intention and unpalatable character, (O’Keefe, Lambert, and Lambert ‘97) and that can lead to fighting…
Mark Knapp is a homie. He did a great job in his Stages of Relationships model of laying out the steps that relationships take when growing as well as falling apart. From Wikipedia, the simple definition of Knapp’s Relational Development model is as follows: “The Knapp’s Relational Development Model is a theoretical model to map the progression of an interpersonal relationship between two parties.”
In this model I will focus on one stage (perhaps the most painful of the stages) of coming apart, officially known as Knapp’s Relationship termination model. The stage I will focus on is stagnating, “During the stagnating stage, the individuals avoid discussing the relationship because they think they know what the other will say. Others begin to take notice that something is wrong.” (from abacon.com).
I have been through this stage before, and it lasted a lot longer for my significant other and I than for most (I would assume). Back during high school I dated a girl, who for anonymity sake I will name Skeletor.
Skeletor and I dated for quite some time, especially in terms of high school relationships. In the beginning it was fantastic. We hit it off immediately and were basically inseparable. We never went a day without seeing one another and after a couple of months became physically intimate, which at that age can be confused with love. This “bliss” lasted for months and we got along really well and shared many great experiences. This obviously didn’t last forever.
As I was opening up more to Skeletor and sharing my innermost feelings, she closed up. Whatever reason she had for not sharing her feelings was her business, but I couldn’t really accept it, or be comfortable with it. I felt like I was doing all the “work” and she owed it to me to be forthcoming with her feelings (yeah, that shit doesn’t really fly I found out). Like a jerk I would try and pressure her into sharing things with me which, of course, would just make her clam up even more.
This ended up in a kind of stalemate, where the Stagnating stages comes in. I was fed up with her not wanting to connect with me, so I closed off more, and she was contented in not talking. We had a routine everyday where I would pick her up at her school after I got out of class, slightly earlier than her, and we would go do something. Before, this was the highlight of my day, but once the stagnating stage set in I would dread it. I still picked her up however because it was like my chore that I was expected to do. I remember car rides where I would be driving, her next to me, and not one word would be said the entire trip. It was gut wrenching, and you could cut the tension with a spoon. At this point, I think we both knew we would never be going back to the fun sunny days. This stage was followed by some serious stuff that could honestly be made into a movie (not exaggerating), but all in all, this stage of silence was the worst. The epic poo-storm to come I could handle, but the silence tears you apart. Thanks to my boy Knapp I can now see, very clearly, the proceeding and following steps of that, and other, relationships.
Here is some more info on Mark Knapp. He did a lot of other cool research too!
Love styles theory was developed by John Lee, first in 1973. There are 5 different love styles: Storge (friend love), Agapic (selfless love), Manic (low power, dependent), Pragma (logic love), Ludic (flirtatious, game playing love), and Eros (passionate love). I will focus on the Storge love style because I rated highest on this and two of my friends, who date each other, are both Storges.
The Storge style is pretty common. 66% of people who take the love styles test rate high in this category. Storges have strong bonds and enjoy spending time with one another. These lovers find common interests with one another and are generally very comfortable just hanging out together. I rated highest on Storge when I took the love styles test, but a common flaw in the test is that many people want to have the qualities of Storges, so test results can be skewed. For the most part I believe I do fit this category, but it is also my idealized image of what kind of a relationship I would like to have.
I had a sneaking suspicion, after learning about love styles in my Comm class, that my 2 friends who I will call James and Jasmine were both Storges. My suspicions were confirmed after I had them take the test. Hard core Storges. These two are inseparable and are happiest just chilling out and watching TV or going to Yoga together. They aren’t overly flirtatious in public and seem like old friends. A common trait of Storges that date each other is that it forms out of a previous friendship. Jasmine and James were friends long before it turned into something romantic and they share a lot of common interests.
There are examples of Storge lovers in the movies and TV as well. One example is the movie Zach and Miri make a Porno. In the film Zach and Miri start out as roommates and lifelong friends, but eventually it becomes something more.
And if you haven’t seen the film, the title says it all. Things get very complicated.
For more information on different love styles check out the Wikipedia Page on Lee’s theory.