And I thought I didn’t learn anything freshman year…

August 20, 2008

So, critique myself, huh? Well here goes nothing! Well I spoke about how I agreed with Professor Cronen’s approach to communication based on the fact that I took a class with him, and I understand his view more easily and thoroughly. In this class, I learned about something called the conversational triplet (act, react, re-react). I feel this goes with Hahn’s Interbeing article. Sports08 states “To me the “cloud” that Hanh describes is like a chain, and chains inter-lock, hence the title “Interbeing.”” President Makalele then says that “makes it easy for one to visualize the interbeing of events and things as a sort of giant Venn diagram with equal interlocking sections between the forces and influences involved.” (Think of how upset Kinko’s would be if you brought in a cloud-sized Venn diagram!) But this is what I feel Professor Cronen was talking about, the triplet is a series (or chain if you will) of events that only work if the previous and the present make sense together (read: connect). Also an episode will be a long (possibly short if the conversation goes terribly wrong, or incredibly well) chain of triplets. Brian talks about how a teammate (in a rather long episode) ended up making money by buying a car, instead of incurring a deficit because he is making more money and being more efficient about everything.

In the discussion of Postman, there is the idea of being correctly dishonest. Grant2u says it pretty well “When I look at how I communicated with my “interlockers” I feel that I was thoughtful, respectful, honest, but not totally honest.” In our culture (something touched on by Cronen’s method), revealing everything about yourself could be viewed as insult or disturbing (think: nudists). I think the best line from this entire discussion thread was also from Grant2u, and it sums it up pretty well. We have a saying in our culture “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It definitely applies in this case.

Critiquing!

August 19, 2008

When I read Stewart before, it seemed to me that he was talking about not fitting people into stereotypes, roles or cultural representations. I took this to mean that he wanted people to look at individuals, and not lump them together with others because of how they look, act or speak.

In Team Three’s project, there is a description of a slight conflict between two individuals. I chose the word individuals on purpose, because this conflict was brought about because one teammate lumped certain work ethics together with others and was just expressing his concern that two different types of work ethics wouldn’t fit well together in a team setting. This almost alienated a teammate because someone viewed them as a potential slacker. The “slacker” probably doesn’t slack at all, but due to certain circumstances, might not be able to turn in their homework until close to the deadline (it is a class during the summer, a busy time for most!), but this was viewed as an unmotivated person. I’m one of the people who turns in their assignments close to the deadline, not because I’m lazy (well a little bit), but because I work nights and my schedule is different from everyone else’s. I can see why the “slacker” was offended, because he was lumped into a negative group without being looked at as an individual.

In Masr’s Team’s project, there is a discussion of an “attack reaction”, it states that “group members react and will generally attack the designated leadership (facilitators), as well as any emerging leaders within the group.” People would be attacked because students would become frustrated with a new topic, and lash out at the people in charge because they felt wronged by them. Whether the attack was towards Steph or any of their peers, it was brewed from frustration, and the target became the leaders because people may have felt that they owed them more information.

Team 4 Project

August 17, 2008

“Being open with and to other people” written by David Johnson from a book, “Bridges not walls” by John Stewart, explains how the self-disclosure can be used to enhance the relationships between the people. First, Johnson points out how “self-disclosure enables you and other people to get to know each other”(p.234, 8th edition). At the beginning of this class, we had a chance to introduce ourselves by leaving a comment on Steph’s first lecture. When I had to introduce myself, I, ooloveshoo, was not afraid to show my weakness to the rest of the class who does not know me. “As many of people probably have noticed already while reading my post, I have some trouble with writing in English. I am trying hard to learn English but I still have problems with communicating in English since it is not my first language.”. The way I had reveal my lack of proficiency in English supports one of Johnson’s idea. He said “To build a meaningful relationship you have to disclose yourself to the other person and take the risk that the other person may reject rather than like you.”(p.232, 8th edition). I was taking the risk to reveal my weakness in hoping that will help me to have strong relationship with my classmates. Lacking proficiency in English had always given me a hard time with interacting with other classmates whenever I had to work in groups. At first, people did not consider me as foreigner, but once we started to conversation; the other group memebrs started to realize that I was little different. The discomfort arose between us, and I often had to feel left out. By revealing my weakness at the beginning of the class, I felt comfortable with leaving my writings on webblogs or discussion thread; because I knew my classmates will understand about my difficulties with English. On the other hand, commsyr09 was showing her strength in communication when she was introducing herself: “I opt to stick to what I know and what I am good at – communications!” I picked Commsyr09 as an example of disclosure; because she represented her disclosure as a way to introduce herself like me. Although we were showing completely opposite sides of disclosure: positive, and negative; the way we used them as a tool to get closer with the other classmates is similar.

Second, Johnson states that “self-disclosure allows individuals to identify common goals and overlapping needs, interests, activities, and values.” (p.234, 8th edition). Students in Comm325 had to make their own websites called “wiki” at the end of the class, and I thought it was a great way to show self-disclosure to anyone who might visit their wiki. While I was browsing Steph’s course website for Comm325, I was able to find a comment which was complementing one of the classmate’s wiki with showing the emotions. Funinsun had left a comment about his experiences with his classmates’ wiki, Chocolatemilk and one another classmate. He said “It was really interesting to read them because I saw myself feeling the same way they did. We really are a group after all!” This feedback immediately caught my eyes, and I got curious of Chocolatemilk, who was able to continue the relationship with Funinsun by sharing the same experience as a group, and disclosing herself. After reading the Chocolatemilk’ wiki, I was able to find the reason why Funinsun had felt that way. Chocolatemilk had done a great job with expressing her thoughts, feelings, and learning. There were four sections: introduction, the explanation of the class that she had to take, learning that she had gained from class, and her understanding about new finding. She said that “Well, my friend, as there was no syllabus, the only thing that we really knew for certain was that we were to design our own class wiki (see “wiki” link above) by the end of the semester. What was to be on it and how we were to go about it was completely up to us. We spent many a classes trying to figure out what our topic was going to be. You would not believe how long it took us just to vote” Reading this quote allows me to picture myself what she had to go through in order to create this wiki such as pressure, confusion, and happiness. After reading her wiki, I feel like I know her although I have not met or talked to this person. I think this is how you create relationship with the others; you first express yourself to the others. Then you wait until the other person accepts your disclosure, and stimulate them to express themselves. If Chocolatemilk had not disclosed enough about herself like how she did it on her wiki, she could not expect to receive the same type of comment from Funinsun which revealed his emotion and his finding of commonality with Chocolatemilk. By revealing their emotion, they were able to make their relationship little closer to each other. Also, I got a feeling that anybody who visits her wiki would experience the same feeling that I had and they are able to find their commonalities with her.

Lastly, Johnson points out that “once common goals have been identified, self-disclosure is necessary to work together to accomplish them.” (p.234, 8th edition). While my team was spending time to process our team project, I have experienced many self-disclosures of Grant2u. In Grant2u’s weblog, she said “I think to work effectively and constructively we all need to be on the same page about certain things.” I think that was her goal for our team, and she tried hard to not leaving any teammates behind. There were times where I had to deal with confusions and misunderstanding about the assignments, she was always there to accept my problems with open-minded; and provided ways to solve my problems by showing her disclosure. Whenever the team had to be in a chat room to share our ideas, I was usually the one who did not talk much, and watched what the other teammates had to say. She was the one who always encouraged me to chat by asking specific questions to me by calling my name. Also, she always was the first one to share her feedbacks about the assignments, and asked how the teammates might think of it. The way she approached and showed herself made me to feel comfortable with her. Not only she encouraged me to speak out, but she was the one who usually revealed her thoughts and feelings while we were doing our team project. Often time, she brought out her concerns, and my teammates considered it as a sign to get together and start working as a team. As a team, we often tried to find a right time to chat and discuss about the concerns that each member might have. I appreciate her for showing self-disclosure to me and my team, because I think her disclosure had helped me and my team to communicate with the others without having any conflicts and we were able to finish our project without leaving any teammates behind. However, I also appreciate the openness of the other teammates. Johnson said that “joint action to achieve mutual goals can not be effective unless collaborators are quite open in their interactions with each other.”(p.234, 8th edition). Without open interactions of each member, my team would not be the same as how we are today.

“Identity- negotiation, or the collaborative construction of selves, is going on whenever people communicate… People who are aware of negotiation processes can communicate more effectively and successfully in many different situations.” (Stewart 31) The idea of negotiation in communication is one that is often overlooked. It is common to ignore the fact that, as we are conversing with and listening to each other, we are allowing ourselves to change. We are collaboratively creating identities together through out interactions and IPC with one another. “Identities are communicated in many different ways. Topic choice and vocabulary are important. Grooming and dress also contribute to this process…” (Stewart 31) It is learning how to appropriately negotiate that has helped all of us grow as communicators throughout this course.

It is imperative to know the difference between sharing too much and not enough of who we are; being too weary of interaction with someone and not giving people a fair chance, etc. In addition we must always be aware of the identity(s) of the person/people we are communicating with, as well as the situation in which we are in. For example, Jimigarcia27 shares how we have all performed, acted, communicated in ways based upon the fact that we are in a class setting, communicating with an instructor. We negotiate our identity by framing our words according to what we believe Stephanie wants from us. In addition, due to the classroom setting, and our work being posted for all to see, we negotiate to avoid judgment from classmates, more so, our concern with their opinions affect how we perform and communicate. Outerbodyboi, specifically, discusses how being assigned groups really kicked him into gear, as he was determined not to let his teammates down. We bargain, alter who we are, how we normally do things because of our public forum.

Aside from negotiating who we are to avoid a basic misrepresentation of our personalities and work ethic, we are also determined to accomplish our goals. As Sedona1 stated, “If I weren’t to compromise…we would have been stuck…” When working collaboratively, compromise and teamwork are necessary factors for success, therefore we humble ourselves to better the group as a whole. As we have been working in groups, and the students of Steph’s other class did so, taking into account the views of others is helpful. Abccccc, communicates agreeance with teammates. They share a willingness to do what the other group members wish, without ever mentioning ideas of their own. Such cooperation was crucial for the achievement of the team. However, an important factor in negotiation is not completely losing one’s own identity.

Saboy explained, the importance of putting one-self out there, and how we must be “authentic and stand out…” I have been lucky enough to have watched myself and my fellow classmates grow, develop, and learn to successfully negotiate our identities in communication without completely losing ourselves. It has been difficult because, as Johnniedrama wrote, ” Usually, in a “normal” class, diversity can be seen (via people’s appearances), sometimes even heard (through people’s voices/accents), but not here. When reading a comment or a weblog or a discussion post, the way it is written is now more important than ever. The slightest type-o or grammatical error can throw off the reader, and make the reader think that the writer is of a different background than the reader – whether culturally, religiously, socioeconomically, or mentally.” Our circumstances made it that much more difficult to know the identities of those we were communicating, yet we all seemed to pull through. To use myself as an example, in the beginning of this course I was highly impersonal. My very first assignment was about health insurance, as I was unable to negotiate a more personal story to share. However, as I have advanced and progressed using this course material, I have learned how to appropriately give my own opinions and views while taking into consideration who my audience is.

Learning how to communicate in groups while constructing identities can be a tough act. It is like trying to balance on the tightrope. As you try to get to the other side-hoping someone can control the tensions wire and catch you if you fall. It can be tricky and a tough balancing act, as I myself and others have experienced.

In regard to “Constructing our Identities” written by Stewart, Zediker, and Wittenborn and “Maintaining the Self in Communication” by Barret I would like examine the role of developing our “selves” and how I feel it has developed our relationships. From the book Bridges Not Walls by John Stewart, Barret talks about “a rhetorical perspective” and says that “in this exploration of human interaction, I am guided by a rhetorical perspective on communication: that we choose ways to be with others, always with a purpose, always seeking to be effective with them(97)”. Through our communications we have furthered our relationships over time by using a number of these skills. From the very beginning our introductions and web logs we made a statement about who we were and what are tone was. It was our first chance to “create our identities”.

Using myself as an example I said, “I intend to learn more effective ways to communicate with others in personal or professional relationships…my hope is to gain some new perspectives on communication while I take a look at my own strengths and weaknesses. I believe that in order to achieve optimal results you must be willing to make sacrifices and work hare towards your goal.” A couple weeks into the class I felt like I was in way over my head-with the technical part of it. I was always felt like I was on top of things with other classes, but now as we broke off into teams I really needed the support of others. I was no longer the one with all the answers, but the one who had to listen, let go, and allow someone else to lead the way. I feel like I was doing this while trying to maintain my identity and hold onto some of the tension in our dialogue at the same time. From Bridges, “Dialogue’s Basic Tension” by Karen Zediker and John Stewart demonstrate “tensionality” as “dialogue is not a steady state, something that is stable and predictable, when people are in a dialogue, they experience a dynamic, push-pull, both-and-quality in their communication(614). I needed to learn how to do that when I nexted to my team mates. “When I reflect upon my own IPC I realize that I typically control the tension lines in my regular communications. I’m used to being in a position of “pushing”. My motive seemed to be to keep the conversation flowing…as Steph says in her lecture regarding “nexting”, “The point is that we are always and forever joining conversations in the middle, and there are a lot of people who want to influence how the conversation turns out.”

One of the members of our team is able to notice when the dialogue isn’t moving and is happy to offer a “push”. TheCakeIsALie says, “As part of my nature, if no one steps forward to lead a group discussion, I step forward and try to help the best I can.” Not only is he able to ease the “tension” in this sense but was also able to share his computer knowledge/experience with me to help me and someone else understand the homework assignment. Another example of a changing role in communication is from one of my teammate’s Cake. He is the one who was able to help me and he reflected in his web log “the first night of grouping, I stepped forward to help lead the discussion and to help my teammates through the technical aspect of this course. Then I needed to step back and allow them to essentially control my fate and decide what readings I should do, and trust that they’d leave me sufficient information to complete the tasks.” Cake and I learned in turn from each other that we had to learn to trust our teammates and let go of the tension. We had to be able to change our way of communicating and put our “fate” in each others hands-and it worked!!

CommSyr says, in her summary on “Maintaining the Self in Communication” by Barrett, that “in a group setting especially when working together to achieve a grade with people who know very little about each other, self-maintenance is key. We are all trying to exude intelligence, over the top and not doing enough, between being intelligent but not intimidating, by being assertive but not mean. We are constantly maintaining this balance, in group projects, with friends at work, in life” . She also says in a summary on “Constructing our Identities” that “this article is extremely pertinent to our topic because through identity construction we become the person we want to communicate to others-interpersonally”. Theses example are important because I think they reflects upon principle such as: knowing how to control the tension in IPC and to find ways to develop it. It shows that her thoughts on this have been consistent throughout the course.

From the course in “group dynamics” it was more difficult to find to ways to connect the dots. I think a good way to end this is from some comments I found from sameies20 in regard to a class project from “getting to gist” he/she said earlier on in class where there seemed to be some struggle that “In regards to where the class is at while trying to create our class project I feel as though we are still in stage 2, the adolescence stage…I will be interested to see what the next class has to offer and if our group dynamics can shift to the next stage…?” and apparently there was some kind of shift in the class’s relationship as a whole. In a later post from “reminder-after Dachau” sameies20 says “I think that there are lots of things that remain in our group that were there in the beginning…I am much more comfortable with some of the people in class…I think the openness has allowed students to feel more comfortable with each other and with the instructor making for an overall good classroom experience!” I chose this to end with because I think it overall demonstrate what a lot of us have felt in our class. It shows an example of where this was some type of struggle with the class-but through the “further relationships over time” by developing an atmosphere of openness and comfort the dynamics were able to move forward.

The support levels changed as time went on with the groups. I will be focusing on how we went about supporting in the class and with the project. Support can be shown in many different ways while communicating. It can be helping someone to understand something further, it can be a technical question, but it can also be a way to foster relationships and to build a community. Our world is built on trust, and the initial few entries when we are going back and fourth set the foundation for learning as well as for the bonding to continue. At some point in the class, our support began to hinder, and people became a bit disconnected. Our line of communication was disappearing slowly and the support that was built with it also wavered. Initially a comfort level was established which allowed for a supportive setting. As people became less comfortable and more frustrated, the support began to fade. As we got more used to the setting and the technology, it began to pick up once again as we became more organized at the very end.

There were many early conversations through the blogs where people were being supportive of each other. We were able to relate to others and build a bridge where open dialogue is promoted. For an example, Jagger Bunny, in her opening web blog writes about her newfound experience as a waitress and how tough the job can be, as well as how customers can be very unreasonable. In a reply, Tennisfan816 , relates to her experiences, and at the end writes, “My advice is to hang in there and don’t let the customers get to you, sometimes people just have bad days.” This way of ending her comment builds a support system where one student is encouraging another student to keep her head up.

On the same entry, Singer12 writes, “I applaud your patience, and I want to let you know that it is because of your post that I will be sure to be more aware of my behavior in restaurants, in the future.” This is a great way to end with a positive comment. The comment is both applauding her ability to do something difficult, but it also tells Jagger Bunny that she was able to influence someone’s thoughts and eventually actions towards waiters and waitresses in the future. This type of supportiveness is needed for these individual relationships to develop effectively.

In another one of the first blog replies, another student exhibits that they are already skilled in nexting. Here is another example of a student relating to another and then saying how their blog has influenced them to think in a different light. Commsyr09 writes on Tennisfan’s blog “I have always wanted to improve my speaking skills while learning to read and write – reading your post has definitely inspired me to look more into doing so.” Encouraging others through ha respectful voice builds trust in the relationship.

In the beginning there was a dialogue between Masr27 and Tennisfan816 where effective nexting takes place with a supportive tone. They are both promoting dialogue, which in effect, brings them closer together. In Masr27’s opening blog, he/she describes how the most important lesson learned recently was to eat healthy and drink water, which has impacted his/her mood greatly. The opening of dialogue comes from Tennisfan816 who writes , “I wish I had your willpower to resist eating junk food, keep up the good work!” This is both supportive of Masr27’s aims at a healthy lifestyle but also compliments Masr27’s will power. This positive attitude towards other’s endeavors creates a trust between the two. This foundation allows for more support in the future.

In TennisFan816’s first blog, the student writes about how his/her family is from Thailand and although the student could speak Thai, he/she had decided to learn how to read and write in Thai. The student explained the difficulties of the alphabet and the daunting task that lies ahead. Masr27 continues the conversation and writes back being very supportive, “I can definitely relate to you, because this past year I was in Cairo studying Arabic, a language I could barely say “how are you doing in”, and now I’ve become proficient in reading and writing. It feels amazing doesn’t it!? We are both bi-lingual!” This is an example of people making connections with each other through effective nexting. It’s building a relationship through similarities and not only relating to the person you are communicating with, but encouraging their shared passions.

The dialogue continues as Tennisfan816 keeps the nexting process going and replies again on Masr27’s blog, “My friend is currently majoring in Arabic at Emory University in Georgia and she has told me that it’s pretty hard. She was actually in Cairo during fall semester last year, that would be funny if you guys were actually at the same school together.” This is the least effective nexting, as the conversation has hit a wall. The nexting became weaker as the two went on. Once they became comfortable and began to relate to each other, the dialogue stops. This could be due to the fact that the assignment was complete, and they had done what they were expected to do. It seems as soon as the requirement was fulfilled, the interaction ceased.

The class started off with a bang, as people were interacting in their natural ways while learning the fundamentals of nexting. But at some point we began to lose steam. The relationships that we had initially made seemed to unravel a bit. I noticed that there weren’t nearly as many replies to blogs later on in the semester. People were nexting and communicating through their own blogs but it wasn’t as much of an interaction as before. People were really giving much more of their opinions as opposed to listening effectively in order to properly next. This meant that people weren’t getting the most out of the conversation. In “Dialogue’s Basic Tension,” Karen Zediker explains the different between monologic and dialogic interaction, “when one of us can perceive and listen to you as a person while being available as a person to you, and you can do the same thing, then the communication between us can be called “dialogic” or “dialogue.” When the opposite happens- when I am only focused on getting my own ideas out and you are not listening but “reloading”- only working out your response to my ideas, then the communication between us is monologic.”(Stewart, 614) I feel like as time went on in the class, things went from being dialogic to monologic, as kids began to spout off their opinions without really listening to what others had to say originally or in response.

As meeting and planning became a daunting task, Jagger Bunny writes about this frustration and lack of communication, “However, the communication between my team members and I has been so minor, that I don’t believe it has changed us, except maybe frustrated all of us.” I felt this same frustration about ¾ into the class. The feeling is evident throughout the class as people began to question whether things had started to become more disconnected, and this lack of support for one another affected our ability to “next” properly.

Masr27 responded to this blog entry saying “I agree without a doubt 100 percent. You are a part of my team, and I would rather use the term impossible than difficult to explore the “basic tensions” in our dialogue, simply because our dialogue doesn’t exist!” This is again, more evidence that people are getting fed up and questioning the support system that was in weeks prior, being nurtured so heavily.

In the Group Dynamics class, AP1115 made an interesting point, “I started to think around the end of the class that there was a BIG reason why were kept in the dark on grading criteria and what the final project had to be about. It created confusion and in turn made us rely on each other to get through the class.” The lack of instructions about the project and the class as a whole made it so that we were going to have to be supportive of each other in order for anything to get done. Without support, we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did. In our discussion section, Catherine was constantly extending a helping hand whether it be with confusion on an assignment, orchestrating meeting times, or just being there. It’s safe to say that Catherine was the only team member that was constantly supportive in every aspect of the project. Some of my teammates as well as myself had very different work schedules, which affected how supportive we could be. Timing plays a big part in support because you have to deal with issues, as they arise, not at your convenience.

Catherine’s ability to get everyone on the same page helped us to come together. She has set the standard for the level of support that is now expected and is needed for things to go smoothly. It’s very important that a leader emerges to help others to realize the bigger goal, and to realize that we all needed each other in order to succeed. This was all sustained through supportive messages, which made us feel like we all had people who cared and wanted us to grow together. In “Expressing,” by Mathew McKay it says, “Communicating supportively means that you avoid “win/lose” and “right/wrong” games.”(Stewart, 259) He goes on to say, “Real communication produces understanding and closeness, while “win/lose” games create warfare and distance.”(Stewart, 259) I believe that our group was able to avoid these battles, and nothing got to the level where it was a war of words. People respected each other’s feelings and this helped us to come together more so.

In the group dynamics class a student explained how their group was able to finally all support each other to the point that they became stronger because of it. They were able to all share the responsibilities and by building that trust they grew as a team. Summer22 explains that “Many of the other sub groups had a little difficulty with their presentations prior to our turn, so we were a little nervous going up to the front of the class. We decided to go up as a group because with prior groups, only single members were going up and we didn’t want any single person within the group to have that burden, so we went together. Our group really did well once we were up there, and it wasn’t just one person who pulled us all together it was each member working off of one another.” This is an excellent example of support. Each member did what he or she had to do, and instead of singling anyone out, they were able to each do their part and hold up their end in the process. It’s about coming together and helping one another to reach their goals. It’s not easy learning to rely on others, but it’s something that we are going to have to get good at if we are ever going to be successful in life. Group harmony must be nurtured and that is one big lesson that we will all walk away from this class having learned.

Exhaling is the second step in a two-part process called “making meaning together” and this step is the “output” or sending part of communication. (p. 231) An exhale cannot occur without a proper inhale, and it has to make sense in the flow of things. It cannot be something that is “out of nowhere”, that it must be related to the ongoing relationship. (p. 231) The following few paragraphs will deal with the final stage of communicating properly, the act of returning conversation, or exhaling.

Our professor, Steph, presented to a previous class an assignment, and the class fishbowled and discussed the assignment. The results of the fisbowl prompted Steph to post an update to her blog, and the comments in this post seemed to me to be a classic inhale-exhale exercise.

The third comment in this post seemed to be the most interesting to me, because it was a great exhale, and I felt that since the exhale was so great, that it triggered lots of people to inhale it, and make their own good exhales. In essence, sedona1 (the poster of the third comment) inhaled everything that Steph posted, combined it with the discussion that they had in the fishbowl, and their previous experiences, and broke down each topic that they had discussed in their desires to move forward. This led freshkicks6 to post their thoughts about what needed to be done. They agree with sedona1’s main points, and expand on them a little bit, providing a tad more detail, and then leave a minor question that will help the group discuss what else should be done.

Summer22 follows up with another take on the whole thing, except they step in after some comments have been made, and provide their thoughts straight from the fishbowl, then they look at comments made by others, provide their thoughts about the comments, and then adds a little bit more of their own thoughts, “My main suggestion thus far is that I don’t think we should break into “content groups” until we break into these sort of “process groups.”” Stating it as a suggest leaves it open for critique, and more discussion.

Ehanft has a fantastic example of this idea of exhaling.

“As I read and view the discussions and progressions of ideas, I constantly think how much more efficient our group would have been if we had developed a work structure from day one. A leader, or a subgroup that was charged with command decisions, would have gotten things rolling much, much faster. We have essentially circled this notion (the need for order, delegation of tasks, etc.) for weeks now, without having acted.”

He took in the entire semester worth of discussion up to that point into consideration, and throws down his thoughts and frustrations in a very constructive manner. This is probably the best exhale on the entire page, and it’s only about halfway down. He criticizes the manner in which everything got done, but not in a rant, or in an offensive manner. He obviously took the time to not offend anyone, yet showed in a very concise, orderly fashion the problems that people had been “circling” around all semester.

In “Expressing” from “Bridges and Walls”, Matthew McKay, Martha Davis and Patrick Fanning say that “thoughts are [your] conclusions, inferences drawn from what you have heard, read and observed. They are attempts to synthesize your observations so you can see what’s really going on…” (p. 242) I believe Ehanft did that completely. He expressed himself very well in his exhale, meeting all the criteria of posting his thoughts. He heard in class the discussions going on, read the comments posted and observed Steph’s post regarding the class, and then he synthesized all of those observations and what he saw was that they kept going around in a circle, always touching on the same topics, not really making any progress.

Lions and Tigers and Narcissism, oh my!

August 13, 2008

I think that after reading the analysis/summary of Stewart’s “Communicating and Interpersonal Communcation” and then reading Goleman’s “Rudiments of Social Intelligence” it was interesting to see how some people viewed the articles. In Stewart’s article he seemed to want people to experience individuals instead of role fillers and cultural representations. (Stewart 35, thanks to spiceynoodlesoup) Then to read Goleman’s article about how he sees natural leaders and the traits associated with them. One of Goleman’s four parts to social intelligence is social analysis which he says is the ability to read people and glean little details that provide information on how that person feels and thinks. Outerbodyboi puts another good detail of Goleman’s in his description: “[The article] also talks about how some people are socially inept, and are truly afraid of interaction. At the bottom of this fear is the idea that nobody would find what they have to say interesting.” I feel that this assignment was given to help determine the group leader, and help people to see how the leader sees, and help the leader see how his peers see (that’s a lot of seeing!) I picked that quote of outerbodyboi’s because the leaders have to realize that some people in their group might feel that way, and that those people aren’t weak, they just need some healthy encouragement!

I know it’s bad practice to quote yourself, but I think this applies here (duh) when talking about Barrett’s “Maintaining the Self”. I had written previously: “Barrett seemed to be explaining the self defense mechanisms that we’re all familiar with, more than providing advice on how to get around it. He offers control (strategizing, foreseeing events), achievement (perfectionism is the word he uses), opposition (dissent, resistance, nonconformity), attribution (having someone to blame), anger (bad temper, or passionate), denial, withdrawal (avoiding conflict by not being there) and prevarication (white lies). (pp. 103-105)” and my teammate outerbodyboi provided a good closing line to it: “Extraverts (sic) may favor anger, while introverts prefer withdrawal. It all depends on the individual personality. It’s very interesting because everyone has their own way they go about dealing with the “self.”” Again, since I think this is an assignment for the leaders, I feel that identifying and working with all of the self-defense mechanisms is an incredibly important aspect of group work, and outerbodyboi is absolutely right, everyone chooses a different path depending on the situation, and it’s unlikely that two people will choose the same paths.

Again, whether out of narcissism or simplicity I’m quoting myself again (if I wrote ideas I didn’t believe, what kind of credibility would I have?!): “Barrett says shame is “the prime motivator of our time”, and “as we strive to protect ourselves against shame, our communicating is affected” (p. 98) It has become the thing we want to avoid in communicating, so we will lie to ourselves and others in order to avoid shame.” Commsyr has a prime example of this: “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.”” She used a defense mechanism to avoid shame, and she likely will not miss many, if any, more assignments because she wants to avoid that possible shame (which is natural in Western culture according to the authors). Again, if this is based towards looking at the leadership, it is the leader’s responsibility to stay with the members and help them finish any assigned task, and to look to help anyone struggling.

From Mayhem to Peace of Mind

August 10, 2008

My teammates seem to all be willing to do what it takes to get the assignments done with the least amount of friction. When the assignment to pick readings and such came about, I couldn’t make it due to a concert that I had bought tickets to a long time ago (Mayhem Festival was amazing by the way!) and I felt I could trust them to leave me a semi-set of instructions and let me know what readings were up for grabs, which is exactly what they did. That feeling of relief knowing that I wouldn’t suffer for my day of music and beer guzzling is something that cannot have a value attached to it. The idea of the “tug of war” when creating dialogue is clearly visible in my situation. The first night of grouping, I stepped forward to help lead the discussion and to also help my teammates through the technical aspect of this course. Then I needed to step back and allow them to essentially control my fate and decide what readings I should do, and trust that they’d leave me sufficient information to complete the task. Finally, when I was confused about an assignment, Grant2u stepped up to bat and provided an explanation that our professor used to explain to the whole class about the assignment, the metaphorical equivalent of a grand slam.

Outerbodyboi seemed to take a forward role also during these times and posted a concise explanation for myself and singer12 to use when deciding what readings to select.
I think something interesting that happened was the natural flow of how the group fell together. I don’t feel that there’s one leader or another, but that everyone looks to everyone else to be the foundation that the house (our work) is built upon, which is an overplayed cliché but in this case I can definitely see it. Every person in this group seems to want to make it as easy for themselves as well as their group mates to produce the best work that we can.
It’s a bit gratifying that finally my nerdiness is becoming accepted (thanks Outerbodyboi) , but as for problem solver I don’t know so much! I’m good with computers, but sometimes those assignments just make it so hard for me to interpret them! And Grant2u you’re a lifesaver!

Gimme a “C”, Gimme an “O”, Gimme an “M”, you get the idea…

August 4, 2008

Between conversing with my teammates through the chat and our mini-group discussion boards, it seems that we all want one thing: open lines of communication. We had one person that couldn’t attend the chat, and another one that was there to start, but had to leave due to emergency; this didn’t hinder us from discussing things. Right away it was evident that there was confusion about the assignment and we worked through it and I feel that we completed it in the fashion it was meant to be done in. As part of my nature, if no one steps forward to lead a group discussion, I step forward and try to help as best as I can. Grant2u was having some troubles finding everything and seemed a little flustered with the whole online chat process, which is by all means understandable when it’s your first time experiencing it! I was lucky that most of the questions were computer-related things and I knew a lot about it, and I felt that the chat went well.

As for the responses in the other post, the idea flowing from everyone’s responses seemed again to be open lines of communication and attempting equal workloads. Ooloveshoo says that you need to “be yourself if you want to build relationships with the others”, and this definitely applies to these groups. I liked outerbodyboi’s comments because I share a lot of the same views. He also makes a very good point: “It’s okay to argue in order to learn more, but when you start to try and win the battle, that’s when it gets away from learning and works as a tool to separate us further.” A second, very poignant point is “[w]riting can be one of the most deceiving forms of communcations because you are projecting your inner emotions onto the words that someone else has written.” Working in a group online is going to have its own little problems and advantages, and singer12 states that “in order to work in a group, especially one in which physical contact is not an option, proper communication tactics are crucial.”

Mario, Master Chief, Solid Snake and Jesus walk into a bar…

July 17, 2008

Alright, so Jesus doesn’t fit in with the other fictional characters, but the others are what I am interested in talking about today. I have recently been looking into the future of video games and gaming in general, as it might be a possible venture for me in life. I’ve been playing games since I was very young, as is the case with many of my generation. I’ve been obsessed with computer games mostly, simply because they are usually the most technologically advanced (how could a console be better off than a computer when a console is just a specialized computer? I digress.) .

I’ve been looking into this because the past 2-3 years have been astonishing for the gaming industry. While the economy has been floundering and fluttering this industry has only grown larger and larger and gained enormous strength. Interestingly enough, what was considered to be a “nerd” thing has become one of the strongest and most prevalent industries in our economy and culture. If anyone says to you “What profession is Mario?” what is your first thought? The fat Italian in a red jumpsuit jumping through pipes after mushrooms, or him thrown onto a go-kart, depending on your age. Another name that most of my generation will probably never forget is Master Chief, or Solid Snake, depending on your platform of choice. If you don’t get it, you’re either too old (sorry), or chances are you’re a girl (not sexist; studies show males are 90% more likely to play videogames avidly than girls are).

I looked into the future of gaming because there seems to be a want to spread this industry as far as it can reach, and that means pushing it more into the online forum than ever before, and to market to people other than adolescent boys (read: less “Coke-bottle” nymphs as sidekicks in games). Growing up with games always geared towards me was very interesting and I am very much excited to see where gaming will turn to for influences and how it will help to shape society.