Get Ready to Study Interpersonal Communication

This post is designed for users of my Interpersonal Communication Book but the idea can easily be adapted to any text you might be using.
To explain: In revising my Interpersonal Communication Book, I developed an introductory feature that opens the discussion of the chapter by asking students to consider a how the contents of the chapter relate to their own experiences.  Pearson—the publisher—thought this feature would interfere with the learning objectives—that the student would be confused between these items and the learning objectives. At any rate, I eliminated the feature from the text—maybe it would have been too much introductory material, though I doubt that any college student would be confused between these questions and the learning objectives. Yet, I still think this is an excellent way to open the discussions for each of the various chapters.
            These “Get Ready” items follow the revised edition which is currently in production—we used to say “in press” but there are so many interactive elements being inserted into the text that “in press” no longer seems very descriptive. Note that the listening chapter now follows the verbal and nonverbal chapters—a change I made that will make the discussions of lying (in Chapter 4) and lie detection/listening to lies (in Chapter 6) flow more logical. Each of the bullets refers to one of the major heads in the chapter. Feel free to use this as is or revise it to suit your own purposes.

Chapter One Foundations of Interpersonal Communication
Get ready to read about interpersonal communication by thinking about:
·        What do you want to accomplish in this course? What do you want this course to do for you?
·        How would you describe your interpersonal communication behavior? With whom do you interact? Through what channel? What do you communicate about?
·         How effective an interpersonal communicator would you consider yourself?

Chapter Two Cultural and Interpersonal Communication
Get ready to read about culture and interpersonal communication by thinking about:
·        How would you describe your culture and its influence on your current attitudes and behaviors?
·        From your experience, how do you see cultures differing from one another?
·        How would an effective intercultural communicator act?

Chapter Three Perception of the Self and Others in Interpersonal Communication
Get ready to read about perception of self and others by thinking about:
·        How well do you know yourself? How do you value yourself; what’s your level of self-esteem?
·        What image of yourself do you want to project to others? What specifically do you do to project this image?

Chapter Four Verbal Messages in Interpersonal Communication
Get ready to read about verbal messages by thinking about:
·        How would you describe your style of using language?
·        How effective are you in getting others to understand what you really mean?
·        How would you describe your language in terms of cultural sensitivity?

Chapter Five Nonverbal Messages
Get ready to read about nonverbal communication by thinking about:
·         In what ways do you communicate without words?
·         What do these nonverbal messages do—that is, what meanings do they communicate?
·         What makes for an effective nonverbal communicator?

Chapter Six Listening in Interpersonal Communication
Get ready to read about listening by thinking about:
·         How would you rate yourself as a listener? What makes you a good or bad listener?
·         What do you see as the barriers to your listening effectiveness?
·         What 3 adjectives would others use to describe your style of listening?

Chapter Seven Emotional Messages
Get ready to read about emotional communication by thinking about:
·         How important is expressing your feelings to others?
·         How would you describe what happens when you experience strong feelings?
·         How effective are you in communicating your true feelings? How effective are you in responding to the emotions of others?

Chapter Eight Conversational Messages
Get ready to read about conversation by thinking about:
·        How good a conversationalist would your friends and associates say you were?
·        What makes you a good or bad conversationalist?
·        How comfortable are you with small talk? Introducing others? Making excuses? Apologizing? Giving and receiving compliments? Giving and receiving advice?

Chapter Nine Interpersonal Relationships Stages, Theories, and Communication
Get ready to read about interpersonal relationships by thinking about:
·        How would you describe the way you communicate when you develop, maintain, and dissolve relationships?
·        What do your relationships do for you?

Chapter Ten Interpersonal Relationship Types
Get ready to read about the different types of relationships by thinking about:
·        What do you mean by “friendship,” “love,” and “family?”
·        How would you describe the communication that takes place in the workplace?
·        What has been your experience with or observation of jealousy and relationship violence?

Chapter Eleven Interpersonal Conflict and Conflict Management
Get ready to read about interpersonal conflict by thinking about its role in your own life:
·        How would you define interpersonal conflict?
·        What seem to be the main causes of conflict in your own relationships?
·        How do you usually deal with conflict?

Chapter Twelve Interpersonal Power and Influence
Get ready to read about power and influence by thinking about how these operate in your own life:
·        How would you describe your own power and influence among your interpersonal relations?
·        How does power and influence operate in your interactions?
·        Do you experience or observe any unfair use of power?


Nonverbal Mistakes

women networking arms crossed professional
Here’s an article on body language that you should avoid; body gestures that can create a negative impression in another person. It's best to look at these gestures as creating negative impressions under certain circumstances but, certainly, not in all situations:
1. Crossing your arms across your chest can indicate defensiveness.
2.      Leaning forward can indicate aggressiveness.
3.      Breaking your eye contact too early in the interaction.
4.      Putting your hands on your hips when standing can indicate aggressiveness.
5.      Taking a step or two back when asked a question or for a decision.
6.      Putting your hands behind your back or in your pockets can make you look overly stiff.
7.      Nodding more than usual can make you look less than serious.

Nonverbal Cues to Lying

Here’s an interesting article on lying and the nonverbal cues that often (but, not always) reveal that a person is, in fact, lying. The author correctly points out that the first thing one needs to know is how the person behaves normally—what we call establishing a baseline of behavior. Deviations from this baseline are the most revealing. Here are the 11 signs. 
1. Liars change their head position more than truth-tellers
2. Liars' breathing changes
3. Liars stand still
4. Liars repeat words and phrases
5. Liars provide more information than needed
6. Liars touch or cover their mouth
7. Liars cover vulnerable body parts
8. Liars shuffle their feet
9. Liars find it difficult to speak
10. Liars stare without blinking
11. Liars point a lot


Facebook Loneliness

Here's an interesting article reporting on research claiming that Facebook actually increases loneliness.



Here’s a wonderful brief article on excuse making (Psychology Today, August 2014, p. 22--doesn't seem to be online yet), a topic covered in the Interpersonal Communication Book and Interpersonal Messages by Amy Nordrum. Among the conclusions are these: (1)   Excuses work; they can often deflect/stave off/lessen retaliation. (2)    Too frequent excuses--such as self-handicapping excuses--will lead to a loss of faith. (3)  Effective excuses accomplish two goals: (a) they accept responsibility and offer assurances that this will not happen again and (b) they show empathy for the difficulties they caused.


Conversation Infographic

Here's an interesting infographic: 9 Simple Conversation Hacks: How to Turn Any Interaction in Your Favor, sent to me by Sarah Johnson. Thank you, Sarah. It's sure to spark some interesting class discussion on the uses of communication skills or with the section on conversation or persuasion.


Communication and Ethics

Here is an interesting case that would work well in any communication class dealing with ethics. 

In Sunday's New York TimesChuck Klosterman, the Ethicist, was asked if it was ethical for a beer company to bottle the exact same beer but package it in two different type bottles with different labels, one “regular” and one “premium.” The answer from the ethicist was that this was not unethical since the brewer didn’t say these beers were different; it was left it up to the customer to make the inference.  “It only becomes unethical,” says Klosterman, “if the brewer claimed the premium beverage was literally different.” This is nonsense, IMHO. The brewer did say, claim, communicate that the beers were different by the different bottles and the different labels. The label “premium” means that the product is different from one that is not labeled “premium.”  To limit communication to words seems a bit na├»ve and leaves us with a conclusion that is intuitively incorrect and unacceptable. This was clearly an act of deception—the intention of the brewer was to fool the buyer—but this goes unrecognized and unidentified because the way in which communication works is misunderstood.