Forget the textbook, read between the lines…

August 19, 2008

In Postman’s, “the Communication Panacea”, he discusses how not disclosing all of what you are thinking can be viewed as dishonesty. For instance, in my reply to my the comments on my project, I spoke of Commsyr09’s adherence to empathy as the most important emotion expressed in our project. That was not the emotion I focused on, nor was it the most important emotion to me contained in the project. I could have disclosed in my project that I feel confusion is the most important emotion we wrote on because it is the catalyst for all understanding. Nietzche said, From chaos comes order”, right? Or at least something like that. Regardless, the reply to their comments was not the medium to disclose that information. Is it important to me that my opinion differs from hers? Yes, very much so. But it is not the most relevant point to the conversation. It helps to define my identity that I feel differently about a topic than someone else does, but it does not necessarily have to be viewed as dishonest that I did not choose to expound upon that in my reply. Hanh’s article on “Inter-being” brought to mind the Circle of Life song from the Lion King, but is rooted far outside of animation. Specifically with this class, the whole time we have been exuding examples of this. We are being encouraged to do so, but this does not cheapen the effect whatsoever, just provides textbook and easily referenced examples of it. From the get-go Steph has forced us to depend on each other’s work to complete our own. She creates a microcosm of inter-being in our little digital world. Just as a younger sibling provides a sense of leadership to the older, and the older provides protection and a role model, we as classmates have provided resources and knowledge for each other to aid in the process.

Team 5 Project

August 17, 2008

In order to resolve emotions, one must identify and name then first. According to John M. Gottman, in his article “Putting Feelings Into Words,” it is necessary to verbalize feelings in order to harness them. It is also beneficial to express specific feelings in relationships. By naming our feelings, we begin to understand them. Emotions are not only a part of our close relationships; they have also been a part of this class. As Steph says in this lecture, “Emotions about the structure and process of this class have definitely been experienced, and some of them have even been expressed.” Our project highlights the ways four distinct emotions have been expressed successfully in our class, as well as in the Group Dynamics class. MemphisBurns chose relief, Masr27 chose confusion, tennisfan816 chose empathy, and jaggerbunny chose frustration. The most important thing our group hopes the audience takes from our project is the idea that there is nothing wrong with being open about your emotions. In fact, it is harmful to yourself and others to hide them. Understanding and expressing your own emotions is a key part of being a successful communicator.

http://Masr27.wordpress.com/

http://tennisfan816.wordpress.com/

http://MemphisBurns.wordpress.com/

http://jaggerbunny.wordpress.com/

Relief

http://MemphisBurns.wordpress.com/

Identifying emotions is crucial to the facilitation and progression of communication. Jaggerbunny expresses it well in her post, Identifying Emotions, “Identifying one’s emotions is a necessary part of succeeding as a human being.” This holds truer with some emotions than others, but is certainly true for all. Addressing and expressing the emotion of relief, specifically, can be of great use in interpersonal communication. The expression of relief can bring with it a number of ’sister’ emotions like appreciation and joy, that can only facilitate the response of others. This encourages “nexting” and the natural progression of communication through the acknowledgment and response to something presented.

In Jaggerbunny’s blog, Be nice to your waitress!  ) , she describes being a server at a number of different restaurants and the difficulties and stresses that come along with that line of work. She then expresses relief at being at new restaurant with management more to her liking, “The restaurant that I have just started training at seems like a great place so far. Obviously there are the same issues with customers that occur at any restaurant, but the management at this restaurant is extremely laid-back.” She continues to add that servers without duties to attend to are allowed to sit during shifts, which is a welcome change from everything else she’s experienced. The expression of relief led to copious responses from classmates. Tennisfan816 was the first to comment on the post, “My advice is “to hang in there and don’t let the customers get to you, sometimes people just have bad days.” Her expression of relief led to peer encouragement and support in her new endeavor. It led to sympathy from Commsyr09 in the next comment, “I totally sympathize with you on the difficulties of waitressing. Although I have never personally waitressed…” Masr27 said, “I’ve always had a certain empathy for the waiters and waitresses working at the restaurants I eat at…” in his comment. An initial expression of sympathy and a comparable expression of empathy from two different classmates I feel was a contributory factor in our placement in a group together.

Also contained in Jaggerbunny’s post, Identifying Emotions, is another key point, “It is difficult to resolve an emotion without knowing what it is. It is also important to name your emotions in order to effectively communicate with others.” Many times a title, or even a description, of an emotion can connect you with an “other”. I was intensely worried during a number of reading assignments Steph had posted for us to complete when I turned to my peers in the discussion section of our class blackboard. Gym(nasium), ShinyGinger, and CommSyr had all expressed the same concern I had. Steph had taken precautions to make sure that none of us would have to worry about submitting a ‘reading’ assignment, but many of us were worried we were being docked points. Initially, I was relieved to see that I was not alone in my concern over being graded. I was relieved yet again when Steph replied to all of us an assured us we were doing fine. I was not alone in my relief either. The relief was expressed by ShinyGinger in terms of thanks, “Thanks for letting us know.” This displays how relief can manifest itself in terms of appreciation for aid.

Relief is, in many ways, an emotion that is expressed in finite terms. It happens on an individual basis or as a collective, but exists without being constant. The practical section of our brain usually proceeds to progress after the fact soon after being relieved. This made locating examples in Group Dynamics class very challenging. We are relatively familiar with the members of our own class, and have much more access to those conversations than we do to those of the Group dynamics class. In that class, students were trying to put together a project, much like our class, and the time came to make a decision on what the Wiki-page they were creating would contain. In responses to Steph’s post, getting to gist, from February 23rd, students from Group Dynamics class described their experience of picking a topic. Speculative optimism was expressed by ch0c0latemilk when she said this in comment four on that post, “I can only assume and hope that the chaos will soon subside, and that we will begin to move forward as a class and become a more organized group.” Bradytomoss ‘inhaled’ her comment and responded by ‘exhaling’ with optimistic relief to parallel her sentiment. In the seventh comment on that post he says, “I do think that although last class it seemed as if not much got done…that towards the end certain people began to take on leadership roles to facilitate the process. I think we are consistently making strides and I am eager to see where today’s class will go.” He expresses an element of relief once some progress had been made as a group. Steph had applied pressure to the class to motivate each other and make headway, and the class responded by getting the wheels rolling. A few people stepped up to get things going, and the dominoes fell down into place.

In the post, Can we articulate the frame(s) emergent in our interaction?, I noticed something interesting. There were a number of students expressing initial relief, and then skepticism upon second glance. Steph had recently explained to Group Dynamics that there was “now more going on in the talk of our class that I can track alone.” Freshkicks6 explained, “For our homework I had just finished writing a post about how I think we are all starting to get on the same page with the course Wiki page. Now as I write this response, I am starting to feel like I’m missing something.” Just as in our Interpersonal Communication course, once the early jitters and butterflies of figuring out logistics in the course were surpassed, a wave of relief and comfort washed over the majority of the class. This is followed by some general apprehension at the lack of progress and details that unfold about the project in the following days. Initial relief can be turned into apprehension without a proper dialogic process. In some of Steph’s feedback on my work, she suggests this is a key point to remember of interpersonal communication. Group relations is an extremely dynamic aspect of interpersonal communication, and requires effort and patience on all sides to maximize results. If we do not remain attentive to our peers’ emotions and utilize them when formulating responses, or ‘nexting’, we stand to be stuck in a eternal “limbo” of apprehension and never move into an environment of relief and productivity.

Confusion

http://Masr27.wordpress.com/

As a group, we have chosen our project to be on “identifying emotions”, and each of our team members have been assigned a specific emotion, and to gather examples from the course and analyze them. I picked the emotion: confusion, simply because its one that I experienced throughout the majority of the class in several different instances. What is important to understand here is that I thought I knew what was going on, but in reality I was confused, and there was a clear lack of identifying this. Janet posted in our team 5 discussion “I hope I did this assignment right! I have a feeling I didn’t…” personally, this let me know that by her identifying the fact that she was confused, that it was also alright for me to be confused (which I was). Another clear reference as the confusion that was occurring was said by said by Chelsea “Hey guys, I don’t know if anyone will see this post, but if you do we should get started on picking a topic.” When Chelsea said, “…I don’t know if anyone will see this post…” this is an indication or an identifying phrase that lets us know she is confused, by one or possibly several different things occurring. All of this occurring in the topic selection for team 5. All of the confusion that was happening was within our group, and I for one personally wondered if this was just as a result of lack of group effort, of individual effort, or just general confusion as to what was occurring. As it turned out to be, we weren’t the only group to be confused as to what our project actually was, who were our team members, what was required of us, and so on. Then I looked through posts about specific assignments, such as 7.2, and class members were confused as to what was being asked. I opened up the logistics discussion for unit 4 and I found the subject of one of the posts called “VERY confused” by Anne Ostaszewki. She discussed about how she was confused on what she was to supposed to be writing about in general, on all her assignments, saying “I cannot seem to figure out what exactly it is you want us to write about,” a post was followed up about an hour later by Patrick Green saying “I’m just as confused…” This was followed up by Stephanie’s response suggesting using nexting skills we previously learned about. After reading posts upon posts of logistical questions, and general questions about the class almost half way into it, I realized it was definitely not only our team that had been confused, but also several other people were experiencing what we were. By others identifying their emotions, in this case, confusion, it seemed to have alleviated our anxiety as to whether or not it was ok for us to be confused as well, which was certainly a plus. As far as the group dynamics, there is a complete lecture entitled “when confusion is the condition.” The first sentence What remains….from the beginning until now?  Students seem attached to “confusion,” even though most of them say the results are positive: increased comfort and familiarity with each other than occurs in other classes. “ This gives me the impression that our specific class isn’t the only one which was experiencing confusion, and the second half of the quote said by Stephanie, sounds exactly like our specific group as well. I do believe we all feel comfortable with each other, and we are somewhat familiar, but we still remain confused a lot of the time. Another interesting point brought up was by freshkicks6 who said “…learning how to organize our ideas and opinions. I think that this is greatly emphasized in every class. We are put into confusing situations sometimes, and instead of just thinking about how confusing it is, or what the solution is. We think about the process in coming to a conclusion, and how to organize and write about this process. We don’t just try to find an answer, we also analyze how to find an answer, while organizing these ideas into something coherent…” That is a very interesting point of view, and they are absolutely correct, we are constantly put into confusing situations, and we must learn how to solve the confusion. Finally, Summer22 said something that struck a chord in me, “it’s ok to question things and be confused,” which brings me back to the identification of this specific emotion, and what happens a result. When (in general) an emotion is identified, things can only get easier from there.

Empathy

http://tennisfan816.wordpress.com/

When we listen to other people talk, we find ways to relate to them such as understanding their situation, thoughts and feelings. By doing this, we are being empathic. In this class, we have been doing that by responding to blog entries. For example, in my first post about learning to write in Thai, saboy82 responded to my post for an earlier assignment and said that, “I can understand what you are going through. Growing up as an Indian in South Africa was not easy to learn about my culture” (http://tennisfan816.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/sawatdee/#comments). Another example of empathy is when we had to write an analysis involving other people’s summaries for 2.2. Thomas Ortiz’s analysis stated, “Stereotyping is similar because it groups people according to qualities that they are believed to share. We all do these unconsciously in our everyday lives. Chelsea Reilly and Janet Yang’s examples are unfortunately very much common. I share their experience in my life. I have grouped people just because of their race, and because I am Hispanic I have been stereotyped against as well” (https://learning.umassonline.net/webct/urw/lc823961418111.tp1158815714051/newMessageThread.dowebct?discussionaction=viewMessage&messageid=1291478020011&topicid=1291159206101&refreshPage=false&sourcePage=). This statement tries to show that a lot of us can relate and understand each other, but we have to be willing to share our experiences in order for this to happen. Another example of empathy is the discussion about Look Me in the Eye. Not only did people express empathy with the author of the book, but also expressed it among their classmates. For example, Chelsea discussed how she can relate to Gym411 because “like him, I would be more likely to do the extra work and say nothing, rather than confront my group members” (http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/continuing-to-converse/#comment-1298). There has been a lot of discussion as to how this whole project would work out and it seems many people can relate to the fact that they want to maintain a good relationship with their teammates to avoid any drama during this project.

In a group project, there is going to be some kind of tension no matter what. It is important to be able to communicate frustrations in order to progress. In one entry about a group project, Sedona1 says, “I have a lot of hope for our group. I feel as though the struggle and frustration that we have gone through is now serving us as a catalyst for progress into the 3rd stage, and cementing us there. I can attest from personal experience that my own frustration and impatience has been bubbling steadily in the weeks to the point where I now feel motivated to take action even if just for the mere purpose of relieving this festering impatience arising from the Storming stage” (http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/emergence-of-care-as-a-group-norm/#comment-967). Although this person is having problems within their group, but they know that by having patience and understanding that members of their group are probably feeling his or her frustration. Being able to accept that other people’s feelings are equivalent to yours can help prevent animosity within the group. In the same post, samesies20 “completely agree[s] with the post from sedona 1. The class seems to have left the “storming” stage and is beginning to enter into the functional relationship stage” (http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/emergence-of-care-as-a-group-norm/#comment-976). It seems that the consensus is that their class was not going the way they wanted, but is finally working out for the better. I think it shows that sometimes when you’re frustrated, you’re not the only person and you should be able to voice your opinion if no one else is willing to acknowledge the problem. Empathy I think makes people feel like they are not alone when it comes to how they feel about certain situations. Even after what seems to be a group emergence, there still seems to be confusion within the class. According to ch0c0late milk, “I too agree with my fellow classmates. “Ambiguity” is the perfect word for this class. (Thanks ehanft). It is apparent, through the posts of other students and my own feelings, that the confusion has remained since the beginning. I personally have become slightly more confused as the class has progressed.” Sometimes people aren’t willing to speak if they feel that they are the only ones who are confused about something. However, by speaking out, you get to learn that some people do feel the way you do. Empathy helps us to accept our feelings as being valid.

Frustration

http://jaggerbunny.wordpress.com/

EXAMPLE # 1

When we began the class, many of us had trouble posting in the proper threads. Steph continued to remind us that we needed to be mindful of the correct places to post. The messages started out as gentle reminders; some even included a smiley face like her post “Why is this a new message instead of a reply?” from UD2.1 on July 17, 2008.

Please, we will get too scattered if everyone opens new messages on the same topics.

If you (any of you) are responding to a subject that is already under discussion, please REPLY appropriately instead of starting something brand new! If, in fact, you ARE starting something new (!) – go for it. -)

This message is very polite and encouraging. However, immediately after this message was posted, Brian posted outside of his correct thread. Steph experienced frustration at this, having just outlined the rules for posting. The title of her subsequent post was “don’t stress me out!” (UD 2.1, July 17, 2008.) Steph is identifying her emotion as “stress,” which is very similar to frustration.

Brian – and everyone,
I have just gone through and tried to “correct” this problem. It is possible that we “missed” each other timing-wise – you read all the messages and then posted this here, so I’m going to cut you slack this time BUT

IN THE FUTURE, I will start penalizing for nonconformity to the New Message-Reply Rules!”

Steph realized that she was frustrated with the class, and expressed this emotion. Because Steph displayed her frustration, and began to penalize us for our errors, we learned to use the discussion tool properly. If Steph had continued to prod us gently, it would have taken longer for us to learn the system, and her frustration would have continued. Steph nexted very deliberately in order to effectively steer the class in a certain direction.

EXAMPLE # 2

Technology has been a major part of this class, and I’m sure we have all experienced frustration at different points. In order for this emotion to be resolved, the frustration must be expressed. Usually, in order for our frustration to be alleviated, Steph was the one we needed to vent our frustration to. This next post was made by Mary Vilbon in the “Identities” thread on August 10, 2008. It is entitled “wHat?” (Her frustration seems to be evident in her choice of title as well.)

Steph,

I know this may be sooo simple to the rest of the class and you but I am so frustrated with the technology I have to follow just to communicate!”

Mary clearly states that she is frustrated in order to obtain help from Steph. Because she identifies and expresses her emotion, Steph is able to help her. She responds to Mary in her post “Blogrolling! (and info on Unit 9)” in “Identities” on August 10, 2008. She explains in detail how to get to everyone’s weblogs. Presumably, Mary no longer experienced any frustration surrounding this issue.

EXAMPLE # 3

Sasha Bohan expresses the frustration she felt when there was conflict between the members of her sorority, and their elder advisors in her post “Was that Communication?” in “Bohm: On Communication. (July 23, 2008.)

I pointed out how wrong and detrimental it was when my fellow peers were hostile towards their elder advisors. I was frustrated with the lack of communication among the different age groups, and was forced to take charge to save the meetings.”

During this communication fiasco that Sasha experienced, she realized she was frustrated. Because she knew she was frustrated, she was able to do something to fix it. She took charge of the situation, and saved the meetings. If she did not name her emotion, she may have been confused about how she was feeling. This confusion would have caused her to sit back while the hostility continued, instead of allowing her to fix it. Her expression and understanding of her own frustration ended up being beneficial to the entire group. This is also relevant to Karen Zediker and John Stewart’s article, “Dialogue’s Basic Tension.” Sasha assessed the situation, letting the other happen to her. She then held her own ground, and stood up for her convictions.

Example # 4

In this post, Steph acknowledges the frustration of the class, who presumably expressed their frustration directly. She writes that SHE is frustrated as well. At first she believes that her frustration is caused by one single conversation.

The frustration felt by most members of class was significant and obvious. (I hesitate to say everyone felt frustrated, but it is possible.) I expressed my own frustration in one particular direction (against the “discourse” that first gained prominence and hence seemed to presume inevitability)… it took me reading the results of Test Six to realize my attention was focused only on the most visible or obvious evidence of a deeper matter.

…No wonder I felt like pulling my hair out!”

However, as she continues to consider her emotion, she realizes it is caused by a deeper matter. Because she recognized the importance of her initial emotion, she goes on to discover what is actually bothering her. She ends her post by exclaiming, “No wonder I felt like pulling my hair out!” Her expression of frustration is important because it allows the class to see what needs to be done in the future. It is important to her as a person, because it allows her to “vent.”

EXAMPLE # 5

Summer22 has an interesting outlook on frustration in her class. She is not speaking about her own frustration, but the expression of frustration in general.

    I often notice that within our group members “react and will generally attack the designated leadership (facilitators), as well as any emerging leaders within the group. Many times frustration is aimed at Steph when she introduces new concepts or does not give the group as much information as they are used to. After reading Weber’s piece, I realize that this sort of “attack” reaction is a pertinent part of a group’s growth and development. I feel as if our class as a whole is struggling through the “storming” stage, maybe because we don’t know each other well enough yet (there are lots of people in our class). I suggest that our unfamiliarity with one another is preventing the development of our group because of my experiences in smaller groups within the larger class.”

Summer22 sees the expression of frustration as an “attack reaction.” Steph is sometimes attacked when introducing new topics, just because students don’t understand. This is a common pattern. People become confused, and express their frustration at the situation in an “attack” manner. Summer22 explains that this frustration-caused “attack reaction” is actually useful in resolving the situation. She explains that it is “a pertinent part of a group’s growth and development.” Though the word “attack” is almost always seen in a negative light, it can actually lead to a quicker understanding of one’s conflicted feelings.

EXAMPLE # 6

    This next post is the most blatant expression of frustration I have seen in this class. Though she does not once use the word “frustrated” it is clear that Princess3 is frustrated, KNOWS she is frustrated, and wants everyone else to know she is frustrated. Her punctuation, with some words in all CAPS, and double question marks, accentuates her frustration.

    I completely agree with what Aligirl said in her post. I don’t understand why it took until last week for the people who are opposed to the idea to speak up. We do not have an unlimited amount of time to do this project. I was all for alternate ideas, but how do you expect to be taken serious when you don’t open your mouth until week 6?? Also I have a problem with the people in class who keep asking the question, “Well whats going to happen to the site after this class ends?” Im sorry but WHO CARES? Our job in this class and a lot of what we are graded on is creating the site. Not what happens to the site in August 2011. Also to the people who are saying things like, “Well who is going to look at our site?” Again, why bring up a question like that? You are only adding problems to the assignment. We are not being graded on how many people we recruit to look at our site, just what the site looks like in May 2008. Thats it. The current topic at hand is not difficult, it involves zero traveling and little to no research. Again, if a new topic comes up tomorrow and majority of the class likes it, then great we can go with that. My main point is, the assignment is what it is, so stop asking questions that are just going to create problems and/or make the assignment harder.”

Though her post may seem unnecessarily angry, it will definitely make people take notice. Her agenda is to make her classmates understand their immediate goal. A lot of people had been asking questions that were not necessarily relevant to the final goal, even if the answers may have been interesting to them. Princess vents her frustration in the most obvious of terms, similar to the “attack reaction” from Example 5. Robert Alberti and Michael Emmons may see her post as being more aggressive than assertive. In their article, “What it Means to be Assertive,” they give some examples of aggressive behavior. Princess is choosing for others, instead of choosing for herself, which would be considered aggressive. However, expressing her frustration probably made her feel much better, and allowed others to understand her concerns. Her post is impossible to be ignored.

Grade A, Prime Cut Communication

August 11, 2008

John Stewart’s selection, “Communicating and Interpersonal Communicating”, gives a definition and explanation of what communication is. He cites a number of guidelines or rules to help explain throughout the article. He explains, “…humans live in worlds of meaning that are constructed in communicating…” He dscribes worlds of meaning as the “…interpretation that each human inhabits.” This point was displayed by my classmates in their summaries of Goleman’s reading on “The Rudiments of Social Intelligence.” Virtually all of the summaries, including mine, interpreted the four components of interpersonal intelligence as the relevant focal point of the article. But after that, we diverged in almost every direction in using evidence from the article to describe and support each component. Jimi Garcia felt that the story of “Cecil who was socially awkward” was the most demonstrative of Goleman’s points, whereas I chose to elaborate on the story of the two children Warren and Roger because my sense of comprehension varied from his. In contrast to both our summaries, Johnnie Drama chose to use himself to illustrate Goleman’s points, seeing as it was a quite familiar reference tool. We all interpreted the most relevant points differently. Stewart also explains, “Some of the most important meanings people collaboratively create are identities; all communicating involves negotiating identities, or selves.” I found examples of asserting ones identity in the summaries of Rodriguez’ selection, “Hispanic”. Singer asserts part of her identity as someone who can recognize prejudice by describing the language Rodriguez uses to illustrate his point as “insulting, offensive”. Grant 2 U displays a common characteristic with her by describing the language as “derogatory”. This is not to assume that any other members of the class would deem the words appropriate and unbiased, but if they had, that would be an assertion of their identity as well. Comm Syr described a prime example of her own work to create an identity within our class in her summary of “Constructing Identities” by Zediker, Stewart, and Witteborn. With no chance of completing work on time due to other legitimate obligations, she reached out to her teammates to assert her identity, “I knew that by not completing an assignment my group members could ascribe me as being a slacker, so I found myself explaining why I was unable to complete the assignment and even saying, ‘I am not a slacker’.” As group and individually we all display more textbook examples of interpersonal communication with each passing day of study.

Word to your “other”

August 9, 2008

I have perceived a few basic tensions in the course of organizing this team project. The first being all of our reluctance to ask things of each other. I feel this because of the informality of the medium. I think all of us trust our ability to express ourselves more in person than in text, but this I think is one of the more interesting things to learn from. Because of the varying schedules of our members, we have not been able to mesh on a time to dialogue. Zediker and Stewart would say this is completely as it should be in a certain sense. They wrote, “…not all communication is dialogic – in fact, much of it is a series of monologues in which one end of the continuum we identify is emphasized over the other.” This holds true for our team thus far. We have not been able to dialogue and to have “the fundamental tension between letting the other happen” and holding our own ground in play for all of us. When the time comes to begin the process of co-constructing identities, the limited communication proves to be an obstacle. It parallels the lack of equilibrium between “letting the other happen to me and holding my own ground” on display here. It is still clear that no one wants to be in charge and force their will on anyone else, and that is perhaps the most important identity to construct. I am very capable of doing appropriate and thoughtful work on an assigned task, but I have a hunch that my organization skills might fall inferior to those of my teammates, though I cannot be sure. This uncertainty provides a strong sense of the “other” that Jaggerbunny cites in her post Tension Without Communication. She is correct that, as of yet, none of my teammates have become extensions of myself and vice versa.

“…and I took the one less travelled by.”

August 7, 2008

Group Dynamics

Feb 9: Time to DECIDE, what will YOU create?

http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/time-to-decide-what-do-you-believe/

Speaking on current presidential candidates and their rhetoric…

“These individuals have left a record of their beliefs for others to learn from, a testimony to the ambition of their lives to make some kind of difference that improves the world.“

Feb 23: getting to gist

When ‘Identity Politics’ is Rational

http://fish.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/17/when-identity-politics-is-rational/

“An identity politics voter says, in effect, I don’t care what views he holds, or even what bad things he may have done, or what lack of ability he may display; he’s my brother, or he’s my kinsman, or he’s my landsman, or he comes from the neighborhood, or he’s a Southerner, or (and here the tribe is really big) my country right or wrong. “

April 28: addressing the “relative neglect” of group member training

http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/04/28/reversing-the-relative-neglect-of-group-member-training/

Benne and Sheats argue that member roles receive very little attention in groups because most of the limelight goes to so-called leaders.”

These quotes and selections all involve personal experience and how that, and a combination of other factors like family upbringing, shape a system of values. While these values are formed. prejudices and sterotypes are created in tandem with them, and these forces shape our interactions with each other throughout our lives. The shape of our interactions is everchanging and dynamic due to individual experience and perception being the most influential part.

For your consideration…

August 7, 2008

In Daniel Goleman’s selection, “The Rudiments of Social Intelligence”, he explains how children at a very young age can display many traits of social intelligence and/or deficiency. He begins his dissection of basal social smarts by explaining the four components of interpersonal intelligence. The first, organizing groups, is an “essential skill of a leader”. Negotiating solutions is crucial to conflict prevention. Establishing a personal connection smooths over entrances and exits from encounters. Lastly, social analysis allows us to empathize with others and have perspective when dealing with a social situation. In a few limited case studies that were done in Goleman’s selection, he examines children interacting and illustrates how they display these components. Two children are playing, one asks the other if he’d like to be in a plan or a helicopter, and the other replies, “Are you in a helicopter?” The child who responds clearly displays a concern for the other child’s preference, and also demonstrates a desire to keep the connection between playmate and playing going. This information is worth considering because it can provide perspective for a situation and make you more apt to deal with it tactfully and appropriately. If you’re aware that a person is by nature socially awkward after observing a number of his encounters, you will be less likely to act in an extreme fashion if a social encounter with that person goes awry. To flip the coin, it might help you understand so of your own tendencies to disrupt a smoothly sailing social encounter, and to channel your emotions and thoughts more effectively.

In Navita Cummings James’ reading, “When Miss America Was Always White”, she illustrates through recollection of a number of stories from her childhood how family stories pass on values. They give children a working history that is directly relevant to their life. James grew up in the 50’s in Ohio, and recalls tales of racism and prejudice that here grandparents and parents told her. She provides examples from both sides of her family to contrast each other. She deliberately cautions after recounting numerous tales of violence and discrimination that these stories do not necessarily define who we are or who we become. She corrects that from the stories, “…emerged a set of beliefs and stereotypes that provided a backdrop for my own lived experience. The values you have instilled in you blend with your own individual perception of the world and from it your interpretation is born. This is worth considering for many of the same reasons Goleman’s article is worth considering. If you can understand someone’s system of values, you can address it accordingly, and if you try to comprehend what someone’s life experience has to do with their behavior or feelings, you can be more prepared to counter or sympathize with it.

Great minds think alike…

August 4, 2008

When reading through my team’s approaches to group work I saw a variety of initiatives. Jaggerbunny stressed using positive language and willingness to be open because it, “will be useful in our team projects because we will need to be direct with each other in order to avoid confusion.” Everyone seemed to be on the same page about sharing work. Both jaggerbunny and tennisfan816 expressed a desire for equity in workload and effort. Tennisfan816 also said, “…most of us have different ways of achieving goals. It will be interesting to see much we will be willing to communicate with each other…” I am in agreement, this should be an experiment. No one seemed to be jumping into the driver’s seat to try and assume control of the project and the team, in fact everyone seemed to prefer if no one would do that. I was interested to see what everyone’s suggestion for team selection would be. Jaggerbunny and I had similar views on randomness being the most nonprejudicial way to do it. But tennisfan816 also presented an interesting way to encourage a fair distribution by using familiarity. Every team member will have already communicated with at least one team member in past assignments, and will have never communicated with at least one other team member before. It’s interesting to me upon seeing my team how that might have actually been instituted. Perhaps it is just a coincidence.

http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/nexting-and-being-nexted-what-we-exhale-becomes-us/#comment-1271

http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/nexting-and-being-nexted-what-we-exhale-becomes-us/#comment-1281

NOVA: Informative and Creepy

July 16, 2008

This past weekend I was channel surfing when I stopped on NOVA. The title of this episode was “Bog Bodies”. Apparently there is a phenomenon occurring in the peat bogs of the United Kingdom and Northwestern Europe. Around 2000 bodies, most dating back to the Iron Age, are being discovered in these bogs, the two most recent being in Ireland. The fascinating part is how well preserved the bodies are. They are to some extent naturally mummified by being submerged in the peat bogs. Centuries of peat deposits press on the bodies and flatten them, and the surrounding moisture of the bog preserves all forms of tissue, even hair and clothing. Even more interesting to me was the pattern that emerged with the occupants of all the bogs. The majority of the occupants of them appear to have been murdered. The most recent finds in Ireland were the focus of the show, and upon forensic examination, they both followed the tradition of their predecessors in being the victims of violent deaths as well. One had been brutally tortured, the other had been bludgeoned and nearly decapitated. Both had been staked and tied down to the bottom of the bog. Forensics also was able to determine that both men had been of high status, due to their manicured hands, and finely fashioned hair and clothing. A great many of the bog bodies found in modern time have also been members of the Iron Age aristocracy. It would appear bog bodies had a special purpose if only those in high society and worthy of torture were interred there. And with that explanation, one of the more morbid episodes of NOVA I ever encountered concluded.