In high school, I had a friend Eden who spent time with her boyfriend Tyler, every day. The two of them were inseparable and seemed to need very little time apart from each other. Eden liked to spend time with her girlfriends, too, but she would rather spend time alone with Tyler every day instead. I had other friends who dated in high school, myself included, but many of them had issues with one person or the other “spending too much time with them.”
People mesh differently together and whether someone is newly dating or has been married for most of their life, there will always be tensions between wanting to be close and wanting to be distant from one’s significant other. I find the topic of closeness and distance to be an important idea to understand within any relationship, but especially in the beginning of new relationships. It changes from person to person, but when a relationship is in its infant stages especially, it is important to understand that some people need extra closeness and some people need extra space.
Moving Now, Need to Find Me
In a CNN article about a woman who lived with her boyfriend for over three years, she brought up buying a house, marriage, and having kids with her significant other. Her questions seemed doable for her; the two of them had been dating for five years and she felt no need to push the issue, but felt it had been adequate time in the relationship to breach the issue. Her questions, to her boyfriend, were seen as almost too much; he thought that she was being invasive. Her boyfriend ended up moving out as a result of her questions and told her that he needed to “find himself.” Some of us have heard similar events happen to us, the “It’s not you, it’s me,” for example. When that happens, usually it is a result of a breach of closeness/distance demands and expectations.
For the girl who lost her boyfriend to her questions about their relationship, she falls within a very common issue. Relational Dialectics discuss the importance of closeness versus distance. There is a Demand-Withdraw, which is when someone feels distance within a relationship, they will attempt to close the awkwardness with talk that might put the other on the spot. The partner may see the questions and talk as intrusive or unnecessary, but for the person with the anxieties about relationship distance, they are just responding to their fears. Within the relationship, the person who is seen as distant becomes more withdrawn and less likely to divulge their inner world for fear of too much intrusion. According to “Gendered Lives” by Julia T. Wood, it is important to “share responsibility for taking care of a relationship and build the most expressive and nurturing communication climate…” Sometimes part of that is reading and understanding the expectations of closeness versus distance within a relationship (this could be emotional or physical closeness/distance).
Communicate Your Priorities
That being said, we are all in command of our relationship. Just like a ship, we can choose to fight the waves or we can choose to ride with them. If you have problems with the way your relationship is going, talk about it, express what you feel, and if things are going too fast, too quickly, it is okay! Just tell the other person in order to not create resentment or harbored feelings. The best thing to do, then, when someone comes to you asking for more space, is to respect them. If partner are open to communicating their expectations and feelings, then relationship tensions can resolve and be better understood on each basis!
Something that I have always been fascinated by is the way in which humans interact with each other. Something about picking up Anthropology, the study of the human race, as a second major (after communication studies) expresses my own personal dedication for understanding us, as human beings. Interactions are symbolic and both language and body language speak volumes about what a person is thinking, feeling, and understanding within their own scope. One particular focus of mine has been the differences between female and male communication.
Mixed Up Communication Starts Young
There’s the old adage that women are from Mars and men are from Jupiter, but there is some validity in the reason why it seems like the two sexes are light years away when it comes to fluid communication.
The reason that there are differences is because of the “gender-linked language effect,” which states that there are many different factors which go into creating a man vs., a woman’s understanding (Wood, 2015). The factors include topic of conversation, the speaker’s relation/status to the other, “salience of gender in a communication situation,” and who is present (Wood, 2015).
Misunderstandings oftentimes spring up as a result of these small rearing differences. For example, when looking at what marketing masterminds have come to understand, is that there are definitely differences when sending a “buy this” message to males vs. females. Men are more likely to use “logic” over emotion. Consideration for buying something relates to versatility, wearability, cost-efficency, and durability. Women are more likely to buy clothes based on sociability and for appearance maintenance. This goes back to how children are socialized, what their gender-linked language tells them is “right” or “wrong” according to their gender.
(Hu)man-Being, Just Trying to Live, Man
Communication flaws are generally related to minor experience differences; when one’s own experiences and understanding does not line up with the other person, that’s where misunderstandings arise from. Childrearing doesn’t help either! Imagine how much less confusion there would be if everyone was taught to be a good interpersonal communicator, if everyone was taught to be cooperative, if everyone was taught to have good hygiene. We’re all just humans, man.
My life is an odyssey of the Bright-Eyed. I am a soft and gentle soul with many aspirations and life goals. My name is Jennifer Thompson and I am a senior at Longwood University. I am a Communication Studies and Anthropology double major. My schooling directly relates to my most immediate interests, but does not encompass the full extent of my renaissance mind. People, and what makes them tick, tend to take up most of my thoughts; I am passionate about understanding human perception, consciousness, and tendencies. Nothing is ever black or white, there are all sorts of blurred lines of understanding, especially when discussing an idea as arbitrary as gender.
I am interested in many different forms of both visual, physical, and auditory art; I believe that freedom of expression is the only way a person could truly understand their own self. Art is stereotypically viewed as a more feminine trait, but without expression of self, the true inner self dies. I spend most of my time dancing, listening to music, camping, hiking, visiting festivals, rock mining, cake decorating, reading adventurous books, painting, drawing, cooking and baking, researching, and pushing myself to be more physically and academically astute. I believe one of my best talents would be my observation and analytical skills: I take great pride in critical opinion and conclusion.
I have had the pleasure of working for several people in the past few years directly related to the Communication Studies field, where I was able to expand on my communication knowledge. I have marketing, advertisement, and technical public relations writing experience through my time working for Centra Southside’s Marketing Manager, as well as with Longwood University’s Head of Marketing. I furthered my technical public relations writing skills with PR Writing at Longwood University. I also have real-life experience within managing social media, running business meetings, writing print/internet copy, copy editing through Longwood’s The Rotunda, interpersonal communication, and event coordination. I have likewise advanced my knowledge through many communication courses at Longwood University. Most notably, my interpersonal communication, persuasion, and mediation skills have advanced the most over the years.
As an Anthropology/Communication Studies double major, I have spent lots of time researching and studying the differences between women and men, not only in the Western world, but also interaction and reaction amongst humans around the world. I have dedicated the better part of three years understanding who I am and how my personal associations and consciousness is made up little by little all of the different ideals from around the world that I find resonate especially well with myself. I have studied gender roles, associations, underlying/stated expectations, kinship relationships and expectations, and many other gender-specific interactions; female and male interactions are a main focus of anthropological ethnographies. For me personally, I am less likely to associate with symbolic language labels; I do not want to be lumped into a box because my life, beliefs, and ideals are never black and white. Some days I feel more “masculine,” some days I feel more “feminine,” but I do not believe that I need to change myself to reflect solely female or male attributes all the times/every time.
For this semester, I hope to expand my understanding of male/female interactions. I hope to further my knowledge on statistical data, also, in order to better understand the fundamental ideals and beliefs of feminism in order to become an educated, persuasive, effective, and ethical gender debtor!
Have you heard the song “Let Me Take a Selfie?” Within the realm of social media, Facebook especially, many people have become obsessed with taking photos of themselves and a lot of them posting their pictures with the desire for others to comment and give them attention. Many people are even taking so many selfies that they are now doing them in bad situations or bad locations, one of these being at a funeral! At the most recent Oscars, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook blew up about Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie and everyone that was in it.
Taking pictures for one’s Facebook profile has become a nonevent and it seems like almost everyone is doing it, but what if too many selfies are a bad thing?
Self-Centered Frame Of Mind
Within recent times, social media has become the focus of many people’s lives, both young and old. Although social media use has flourished, Facebook especially, it is not surprising that some people have become more self-centered. In an article from Today, it argues how American’s are becoming more narcissistic, or overly self-centered, as a result of how the media and popular culture portray the importance of material belongings and the self. With much of the media encouraging people to buy bigger and better things to make themselves happy, it is no wonder that, according to Times, that 1 out of 10 Americans in their 20’s, and 1 out of every16 of those of any age, has experienced the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). With so much narcissism prevalent on social sites such as Facebook, it is no wonder that people are having strained relationships as a result.
Angry Over Liking Other’s Selfies
“Why did you like that chick’s pictures?!” Says the angry girlfriend to the boyfriend. This is just one proof of how people can let their jealousy and self-centeredness get in the way of having good relationships. With so many people on Facebook, and so many people having “friends” they do not know, it is not a surprise that many people can have strained relationships over liking other people’s selfies. College students, argued by NBC, are more likely to think they are “special,” “important,” or better than others, as a direct result of people being taught that they are the center of the world.
Through a study done by Compiet in 2013, many people were likely to use Facebook and said Facebook pictures for their own self-promotion.Even CNN has linked the possibility of being too narcissistic within the realm of social media as “why you are still single.” Though the CNN article argues that people are taking more time for their careers and their own life, it is also this that can potentially ruin relationships; when the self becomes so important that people are not connecting as well anymore, people need to stop and ask why there are so many relationships having hard times.
As a result of the importance of self being expressed through social media, I would like to argue that people do not participate in dual-perspectives as much as they should; with social media pressing the importance of self, some people are becoming narcissistic, therefore they push out the possibility of other ideas or dual-perspectives. Narcissism is increasingly more socially acceptable (Nelson, 2013).
Narcissism, What is It?
Narcissism is defined by Webster as egocentrism, or the desire or love for ones own self. When the narcissistic personality inventory, or the NPI, was created to measure narcissism within a person, it was found that the narcissistic tendencies were ambiguous, or not set in stone (Carpenter, 2012). As a result of an increase in narcissism over social media, which can be evident in a person’s “friend” list or with how many pictures they take, many relationships are faced with problems, especially amongst those who attempt to communicate effectively. Those who are more focused on the self, in general, are less likely to understand others because they lack the ability to see any other viewpoint other than their own.
Dual-Perspective: Understanding Others
According to Julia T. Wood’s 2013 version Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, dual-perspective is defined as both the understanding of our own, as well as another’s perspective, thoughts, beliefs, or feelings. When a person uses dual-perspective, they take into account not only their viewpoints and ideals, but also that of others. For example, when someone is narcissistic, or only focus on their own self, they may undermine the importance of one of their friend’s experiences, sometimes even on Facebook. If a friend would recognize that everyone experiences life differently, and that no one way is the right way, then relationships online would seem less superficial. When someone is unable to adapt a message effectively to a variety of people, said person’s person-centeredness is evident (Wood, 2013). A person who can use dual-perspectives and take into account other’s perspectives and viewpoints would be better, in general, more acquitted for social media use, and therefore less narcissistic.
Some people as a result of egocentricism, which is a person who is unable to see or take the perspective of others (Wood, 2013), become so self-absorbed that they harm their relationships online and those that are face-to-face. People who express their perceptions on those around them, and try to get others to see the situation from their eyes, are sometimes considered egocentric (Wood, 2013), and in general do not participate in dual-perspectives. Due to the fact that some people “become addicted in a virtual world of relationships”(Biswajit & Sahoo, 2011), it is no wonder why in personal relationships people are less focused on the other person and more interested in their outlook and best interest. According to Thomas, who did a study in 2013, it was found that there was a “negative relationship between intimacy and the perception of a romantic partner’s use of online social networks.” Those who used social networking sites a lot had strained relationships with their romantic partners because social media, in general, encourages behaviors that are not healthy within relationships, such as jealousy or stalking.
Not All Bad, But Not All Good Either
I am not saying that Facebook is evil because it creates narcissism, I would like to argue that social media sites sometimes encourage narcissism and therefore disallows for dual-perspectives (Carpenter, 2012). Relationships through Facebook can become a social frenzy for attention and self-gratification, which is harming and unhealthy for interpersonal relationships. Those who did not practice dual-perspectives and instead were self-centered and self-focused, were more likely to use Facebook to help with their own self-esteem and self-concept (Compiet, 2013), which is greatly affected by what others say about us (Wood, 2013). As a result of manipulated and self-gratifying relationships, some people are not experience deeper connections and therefore are getting superfluous benefits from Facebook. Due to an increase in narcissism over social media, and the acceptance of narcissism, many romantic and friendly relationships, are suffering.
Even though many relationships are suffering, social media can still be good and bring people together, as long as they self-monitor, or check out their own selves to make sure they participate in dual-perspectives.
We have no control over the crazy family we are born into. While we have no control over whom we have as our parents, but our friends are chosen. Ultimately we have the choice to choose who we spend our time with, who we call our best friend, and who we are in a relationship with. It is a relief, to those who do not like the situation in which they were born into, that they have this ability to determine who their real family is.
Choose Who You Want and Never Settle
We all have been messed up a little bit in some way by our parents. The good news, however, is that through our choice in friends and partners, we can reverse some of that damage.
Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, from Psychology Today, proves that friends are vital to our self-concept. Dr. Whitbourne explains that “friends can give you vital life skills, childhood friendships start your learning process, teen friendships shape your later romantic bonds, friends can help you define your priorities, close friends support you through thick and thin, couple friendships can help your own relationship, and friends can give you a reality check.” Friends are important, but especially important are our closest friends, our innermost circle.
A Friend’s Influence
Friendship is a part of life, even those who chose to seclude themselves from the world generally have at least one person they can confide in. According to Carlin Flora’s FriendInfluence, “friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives.”
When choosing who our friends are, since friendship is a choice, we generally choose those who are most similar to ourselves. This is important because this expresses to others how we view the world. Our friends help to make our own values concrete to us. Those similar to us can help us to determine what is right and wrong, what seems safe, and what is trendy/important; friends, in the same sense, shape who we are just as much as parents or guardians do, only later on in life.
Since friendships are voluntary and important to our self-concept, keeping friends requires a commitment. According to Julia T. Wood, from Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, commitment is defined as “a decision to remain in a relationship.” Whether someone is in a romantic or friend relationship, each connection is deliberate and requires effort from both parties. According to Julia T. Wood, relationships are “continuing;” interpersonal relationships require commitment in order to overcome problems or tensions. For example, when a friend says something bad about another friend, it requires both parties to talk about the problem and express how they feel, to get over it. When the two express how they feel and attempt to make better, they are reflecting the commitment it takes to continue the friendship they have.
Stay, Oh Friend Of Mine
To maintain a satisfying relationship, be it romantic or friendly, commitment is key. While commitment is only one key component of satisfying a relationship, commitment is one of the most basic skills that can really improve any relationship. Once someone becomes a close friend, they have influenced us in more ways than we realize, and since we can rely so heavily on friends for how we view ourselves, keeping committed to the other is vital.
Blind Me With Kindness
For me, this idea of commitment really hit home; my friends mean the world to me and I would do anything for them. My friends continue to challenge me, help me learn, help me to expand my mind, and my friends help me see that I am worthwhile.
Having proven how important friends are to one’s self-concept, it is no wonder how important commitment is likewise. When people are close and are important to each other in their lives, commitment is one of the many ways people can prove the importance.
While friends will come and go, there will always be those who are worth the commitment, and it is all about finding out who you want to be and surrounding yourself with those whom will challenge you and help you grow both intellectually and emotionally. People can better their lives, rewrite pasts, expand their knowledge, and so much more with the help of a committed friendship.
As a little, inquisitive child, I was constantly asking questions. I would ask so many questions that my father’s favorite phrase to tell me was “children should be seen, not heard.” When my father saw how frustrated it made me, he threw an idea at me. He told me that if I really wanted to learn all of the secrets of the world, that I needed to learn how to listen, and not speak so much. While it hurt my young exterior to be silenced in, what I presumed to be an uncalled for way, really opened my eyes to how much one can actually learn from simply listening and asking ones own questions.
College, Questions, Silence
When I came to college, still not having learned the lesson my father tried imparting on me, I was not aware of just how much I would be learning. I sat for hours in both lab-styled classes and lecture-styled classes, sufficed to say, I did a lot of listening. When I was sitting in class, however, the listening I was doing was to simply memorize the topic and then spit it back out for a good letter grade, after all, that’s what school is for. Or is it?
Learn To Walk Before You Run
Something that I struggled with when I first started learning how to listen was redirecting conversations to fit within my scope of understanding. Even though, according to Dr. Kinni, “hearing is automatic and involuntary” (2005), to me, listening was not as automatic or easy. When I came to Longwood University, I met many people who shared my passion for learning, and I thought it was important to express ones knowledge on topics to prove intelligence. As a result of my belief, I twisted conversations into different directions; I am embarrassed at how self-centered it made me seem. My problem was not that I was not interested in what others said, but rather I could not grasp the viewpoints and experiences of others, and as a result, I was taking over conversations in order to have some sort of input in each conversation. One can see how problematic this can be, especially within a work environment, a school environment, or even within the walls of a person’s home.
What I was doing was something I did not even realize I was doing; I was monopolizing conversations. Monopolizing, within the realm of interpersonal communication, is “continuously focusing communication on ourselves instead of listening to the person who is talking” (Wood, 2013), or switching the conversation’s focal point onto one’s own self. Monopolizing, within the dominion of communication, is detrimental because it does not allow for a shift of communication back and forth, and ultimately leaves the “monopolizer” less opportunity for seeing the viewpoint or intelligence in another person’s comments and experiences. For example, when I would talk to someone that was discussing their life experience about high school, instead of listening to them, I would respond with my own life experience and continue the conversation so that it was directed towards my life and my own struggles; when the conversation was redirected towards me, I missed out on any learning experience and probably made the other person dislike me.
Life Is A Lesson, Life Has a Million Lessons
While I understand how monopolizing the conversation kept me from learning more, I hope to help others understand this idea as well. When someone keeps their mind closed of possibilities, they cannot experience life in all of its uniqueness; no two people are the same and no two people experience life the same. While there are infinite experiences in America alone, there are also infinite opportunities for growth, experience, and learning. Through effective listening and understanding the importance of not monopolizing conversations, or changing the conversation to relate to your own experiences, one can not only learn more effectively, but also use their own opinions and think critically, based upon the words and experiences of others.
-Kinni, T. B., & Kinni, D. (2005). Interpersonal Communication . No substitute for victory: lessons in strategy and leadership from General Douglas MacArthur (p. 83). Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT/Prentice Hall.
Going home from Longwood, to me, means that I get to spend time with my old high school friends. While I am always excited to spend time with my friends, something that I have noticed is that this particular group of friends always has drama surrounding them, drama they refuse to talk about. Recently, two of my friends, in which for the purpose of this blog I will rename Stacy and Kim, have not been able to see eye-to-eye and refuse to discuss their grievances with each other. Stacy, in general, is a very critical person who has a hard time seeing the perspective of others, and Kim gets offended easily, in which she shuts down and refuses to discuss anything further. When Stacy told Kim that she was “lazy,” “unmotivated,” and “slacking” in life, things became heated between my two friends. As one could imagine, Stacy could not see the other things that were going on in Kim’s life that made her seem to be “lazy,” “unmotivated,” and “slacking.” Likewise, Kim refused to look at herself and her actions, but instead stayed close-minded and rejected to make any effort into understanding why her friend might be saying these things about her. Things became even worse when the two would not talk about their problems after the initial confrontation.
Perspective, Perspective, Perspective…
Many of you may be thinking either two of many possible things: “oh, I have dealt with something similar,” or “why should I care?” For those whom have never experienced something such as Stacy and Kim’s situation, let me give you another example as to why this is important. For example, say that you and a coworker are supposed to work together on a project and submit a collaborated idea. Working together, if either you or your coworker is all accusing and refuses to discuss each other’s own opinions and beliefs, then little to nothing can be accomplished. If you were to shut down as a result of your coworker’s critiques, or if you were to be close-minded and refuse to allow for the other’s own unique outlook, than a less productive collaboration would occur.
Another reason this drama between Stacy and Kim is important is because of technology and its prevalence. Since the two spend little time talking face-to-face conversations about their accusations, and instead send long text messages back and forth, there has been a disconnect. In recent times, it has become more and more ubiquitous how much technology has a role in society. According to Theresa DiDonato, Ph.D., from Psychology Today, she states that words that may be hard to say in person are now being said over text message and this adds a certain “psychological distance” within relationships of young people (2014). This is important because a disconnect between even close friends will become the norm for many of the inhabitants of first worlds such as the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Dual Perspectives Applied…
It is these two, Stacy and Kim, who have made me realize the importance of one particular interpersonal communication skill: dual perspectives. Because perspectives are subjective and partial, everyone is influenced by their own experiences and standpoint, therefore no one-person experiences life in the same way. For dual standpoint, Julia T. Wood states that dual perspective is when someone can understand not only their own unique perspective, feelings, and understanding, but as well as the unique views of another person (2013). To better be able to understand how to handle different types of people in different situations, it is imperative for one to learn how to regard the opinions, beliefs, feelings, and experiences of not only their own self, but that of others; everyone is unique and has a different way of thinking. For example, Stacy cannot see how hard Kim is on herself as a result of her high expectations of herself, in which makes her seem “lazy,” when she really is “self-conscious” and hard on herself. Likewise, Kim refuses to believe Stacy’s words and refuses to look at how she has been acting because she automatically expects her friends to understand why she has been having a hard time. Again, because perspective is partial and subjective, people must learn how to participate in dual perspectives in order to communicate efficiently and with as little friction as possible.
There Is Hope…
It is easy for someone to become absorbed in his or her own ideas. Everyone has experienced their own life; therefore, of course one would understand their own experiences better than that of others. With this in mind, it does not mean that another person’s experiences are any less valuable; everyone can learn something from another’s familiarities. This rift between Stacy and Kim has made me realize just how important dual perspectives are, especially in a technologically growing and expanding society. Where there may be disconnects based on a lack of face-to-face conversing, there can also be an even greater disconnect when someone does not take into account the lives, experiences, beliefs, and perspectives of others. Overall, to participate in effective interpersonal communication, be it within a person’s friend realm, work dominion, or home life, one must actively participate in dual perspectives.
Hello everyone! My name is Jennifer Thompson, I am a sophomore at Longwood University, a proud communications major, and an avid learner. I am passionate and enthusiastic about learning how people communicate, especially from their own unique viewpoint of this world. After switching majors, from English to communications, I felt at home, and home is where I will expand and never cease to learn!
I love talking to people, finding out what makes them tic, and seeing their unique viewpoints about the world. It is this love, a love that has followed me through out my entire life, that has led me to adapt to each unique situation, person, and assignment that I have been faced with. Whether it was communicating with clients about their cake needs, as a cake decorator, or participating, motivating, and executing the specific needs within in the National Honors English Society and National Art Honors Society, I not only met, but went above and beyond in every situation.
Growing up, I lived in what many would call suburbia utopia, a place where upper, middle class Americans that work for the government, live. It is a result of this bubble, that made me more aware of just how people react and interact within a group of people. I watched the awkward hustle and bustle of people, who were too busy for anyone but themselves, from behind an espresso machine, all the while, being acutely aware of the lack of diversity within my area. It was this lack of diversity that made me want to delve deeper into actions and reactions of people; I have always been curious as to why people behave the way they do in a social environment. When, in communications 200, I learned about viewpoints, I became even more aware of why my area was the way it was, and still is. Communication, for me, is not only a means of speech and allowing for the shifting of ideas from one person to another, but it is also the only way I can learn how a person’s unique experiences create their own sense of self. Within interpersonal communications, I hope to learn further why people respond, react, and communicate in the way they do, based upon their own unique outlook and viewpoint.