And today, in 1875, the first advertisment for female typists appeared in The Nation--prior to this time typists were all men.
It seems there are two issues which are often not separated. One issue is to explain to students what needs and what does not need citation and how to cite these sources in the oral speech and in the papers and outlines. That, it seems, is our province as teachers and one of the tasks we need to address thoroughly. The second issue is—and this one is never made explicit but it’s there in the background—to make our students ethical and moral people. This task, it seems, is more than most teachers have time for and of course it’s not something any teacher has been trained for. How do you make someone a good person? If we knew the answer to that, this world would not be in the shape it’s in.
Consider: from the time the child enters pre-school, the parents are helping with the child’s homework, craft projects, or whatever else the child has to turn in and that might reflect poorly on the parents or prevent the child from getting into the right prep school. And this pattern, it seems, continues throughout elementary and high school and when it comes to the college application, coaches are hired to guide what is said and how it is said and, in some cases I’m sure, to actually write the required essays. And, regardless of your political persuasion, you’ll have to admit we regularly see lying and cheating that has a lot more serious consequences than whether a student earns an “A” or an “F.” Unfortunately, the same is true in the large corporations where lying has destroyed the pension funds of millions of workers. So, why are we surprised when a college student buys a paper or speech from some online source or gets it from one of the club files? The student’s parents taught him or her that such behavior was acceptable and the political and business worlds demonstrate that such deceptions are standard operating procedure. To assume that we, as communication teachers, can take this student—with this very typical history and experience—and, in a one-semester course, turn him or her into a moral and ethical person, is nothing short of ridiculous.
There is another problem with this fixation on catching the cheater and that is that it changes you (the teacher). It refocuses your energies and makes you a police officer, a disciplinarian. Instead, that same energy could be used to help the young instructor become a great teacher. Unfortunately, each person (even the college instructor) has only so much energy; if you spend it on catching and punishing the unethical student, you have that much less to give to the ethical student who wants to learn and who needs your guidance. At the same time, your fixation on plagiarism establishes an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion. It’s similar to the situation in interpersonal relationships where one partner’s constant checking on the other creates an atmosphere that is guarded, accusatory, and just plain unhealthy and unpleasant.
All this is not to say that we should abandon efforts to identify plagiarism. It is a problem. But, it should never dominate the teaching experience.
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This article is also interesting from the point of view of the special occasion speech, for example, speeches of apology or speeches to secure goodwill.
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What’s Your Cultural Orientation?
This test is designed to get you thinking about your own cultural orientations, five of which are considered in this next section. Before reading about these perspectives, take the following self-test. For each of the items below, select either a or b. In some cases, you may feel that neither a nor b describes you accurately; in these cases simply select the one that is closer to your feeling. As you’ll see when you read this next section, these are not either-or preferences, but more-or-less preferences.
1. Success, to my way of thinking, is better measured by
a. the extent to which I surpass others
b. my contribution to the group effort
2. My heroes are generally
a. people who stand out from the crowd
b. team players
3. Of the following values, the one’s I consider more important are:
a. achievement, stimulation, enjoyment
b. tradition, benevolence, conformity
4. Generally, in my business transactions, I feel comfortable
a. relying on oral agreements
b. relying on written agreements
5. If I were a manager I would likely
a. reprimand a worker in public if the occasion warranted
b. always reprimand in private regardless of the situation
6. In communicating, it’s generally more important to be
a. polite than accurate or direct
b. accurate and direct rather than polite
7. Of the following characteristics, the ones I value more highly are
a. aggressiveness, material success, and strength M
b. modesty, tenderness, and quality of life F
8. In a conflict situation I’d be more likely to
a. confront conflicts directly and seek to win
b. confront conflicts with the aim of compromise
9.If I were a manager of an organization I would stress
a. competition and aggressiveness
b. worker satisfaction
10. I’d enjoy working in most groups where
a. there is little distinction between leaders and members
b. there is a clearly defined leader
11. As a student (and if I feel well-informed)
a. I’d feel comfortable challenging a professor
b. I’d feel uncomfortable challenging a professor
12. In choosing a life partner or even close friends, I’d feel more comfortable
a. with just about anyone, not necessarily one from my own culture and class
b. with those from my own culture and class
13. Generally, I’m
a. comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
b. uncomfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
14. As a student I’m more comfortable with assignments in which
a. there is freedom for interpretation
b. there are clearly defined instructions
15. Generally when approaching an undertaking with which I’ve had no experience, I’d feel
How did you do? Items 1-3 refer to the individualist-collectivist orientation; a responses indicate an individualist orientation, b responses indicate a collectivist orientation. Items 4-6 refer to the high and low context characteristics; a responses indicating a high context focus and b responses indicating a low context focus. Items 7-9 refer to the masculine-feminine dimension; a responses indicate a masculine orientation; b responses a feminine orientation. Items 10-12 refer to power distance dimension; a responses indicate a greater comfort with low power distance, b responses indicate a great comfort with high power distance. Items 13-15 refer to the tolerance for ambiguity or uncertainty; a responses indicate a high tolerance and b responses indicate a low tolerance.
What will you do? Understanding your preferences in a wide variety of situations as culturally influenced (at least in part), is a first step to controlling them and to changing them should you wish. This understanding also helps you modify your behavior as appropriate for greater effectiveness in certain situations. The remaining discussion in this section explains these orientations and their implications further.
And Today, the first color television coast-to-coast broadcast is made, 1953.
And, for the day I missed, November 1: Stephen Crane--a journalist and poet though best known for his novel, The Red Badge of Courage is born, 1800.
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I invite other authors or publishing people to comment, correct, and otherwise improve this lengthy (but abridged) presentation of what I see as the process of revising a textbook.
1. As soon as a book comes out, I label it “review copy” and begin to make notes on what I like and don’t like and what I would change directly on the page. This, btw, is the only copy I look at—it ensures that I record all my thoughts and ideas in one place.
2. If a book does well, say it meets or exceeds its sales estimate, the Acquisition Editor (AE), representing the publisher, and I agree to do a revised edition. Actually, when you sign the original contract, you agree to do revisions at the publisher’s “request.” This oral agreement is confirmed and made legal by a written amendment to the original contract identifying the date the completed manuscript is due, the agreed upon page length (almost always the same length as the previous edition), the number of photos, and any other changes.
3. At some early point, a budget is created for the book, largely based on the estimated sales. This budget will influence a variety of decisions—the number of photos, the ancillaries offered with the book, and probably lots of other things. Again, this is an area that the author generally knows little about and that’s probably a good thing (at least in many cases).
4. If the book is to go through “development”—as most introductory four-color texts in communication do—a Developmental Editor (DE) is appointed to work on the book’s revision. Sometimes this person works freelance (my current DE works from Georgia and 99% of our communications are via e-mail) and sometimes an “in-house” developmental editor will be assigned to the book.
5. The DE then undertakes a review of the previous edition and constructs a questionnaire on the book—often with the author’s, AE’s, and the market manager’s input. Often this is done by the AE’s Editorial Assistant (EA) since at this time, the DE may not have been selected. Users and nonusers of the text are then contacted and asked to review the book (for a fee). Generally, both users and nonusers are asked to review the book (often 3 users of the text to be revised and 3 users of the major competitors). Different questions are used for users and nonusers. These reviews come to me anonymously, though the first question in the questionnaire usually asks the reviewer to explain his or her specific school and course. And from this I get a sense of the type of school the reviewer teaches at and the kinds of students the reviewer teaches and by implication the kind of textbook needed. Among the questions asked of users are (and I’m lifting these questions from the actual questionnaire used for EHC): General Impression. Please comment on the major strengths and weaknesses in the pedagogical approach and content of the 5th edition? In general, how has your experience been teaching with the text. Did EHC work well in meeting your course goals? Why or why not? Table of Contents. Please evaluate the table of contents of the 5th edition. What topics, if any, does EHC fail to cover? What topics, if any, does EHC cover in too much depth? Should any chapters be deleted or condensed? Should any chapters be added? Pedagogical Features. What sorts of pedagogical features do you find useful (e.g., a glossary, chapter discussion questions, chapter objectives, bulleted lists, exercises, etc.) in a text for this course? Please comment on the pedagogical features in the 5th edition. Are there pedagogical feature you would recommend be added to the text? [This question is then followed by a complete list of all the pedagogical features in the 5th edition and asking if they see the feature as useful and if they would assign it for students.] Chapter Reviews. Which chapters do you feel are the strongest or weakest in the 5th edition? For each chapter, what top two or three revisions would you suggest for the next edition? For example, any concepts, theories, skills, principles or new research that needs to be covered? What topics need to be expanded, abbreviated, or deleted? Is the scholarship up to date? Have you identified any errors of fact or interpretation? Users of other texts get essentially the same questions but are also asked about the text they’re currently using—its strengths and weaknesses and its pedagogy, for example, as compared to EHC.
6. The DE meanwhile, analyzes the competing texts. Depending on the DE and his or her charge, this may be an informal analysis or an item-by-item analysis drawn in elaborate charts. This analysis is fairly objective and focuses on the physical book (for example, size, number of pages, number of photos and cartoons), the topics covered, its major features/advantages, and the print and electronic supplements that are available with the text.
7. When the reviews come in, they go to the AE, DE, author, and (I suspect) to the marketing manager (but I’m not sure). For EHC 6/e, these reviews totaled 51 single spaced pages. The DE summarizes them and identifies common threads—in the case of EHC 6/e, this came to 15 single spaced pages. From these reviews and the analysis of the competing texts, the DE offers suggestions for revising the text.
8. From these reviews, from the DE’s summary of the reviews, from the comparison with the competition, and from the suggestions for revision, all of which I read and reread throughout the revision process, I get a view of how users found the book and how non-users feel my book compares to another text.
9. I then combine this with my own reading of the literature (I receive just about every journal in communication and use the Internet databases in a variety of fields), with the trends I see reflected in the journals and at conventions, for example. My own view is that a textbook’s foundation must be based on the theory and research of the field. That is the primary purpose of a textbook.
10. A third source of information needed for revision is an understanding of what is going on in the world—on micro and macro levels. Without this infusion of real world people and events a textbook becomes irrelevant to the students. This is really a great principle; it enables me to watch Desperate Housewives and Jerry Springer—for one kind of reality—without guilt.
11. On occasion I have asked for “expert” reviews where experts in narrow areas comment on just a small portion of the text. I ask for this when I feel that researchers on the cutting edge of a particular area can offer different perspectives and provide some fresh insights. Over the years I’ve benefited from the expert reviews of my material on perception, critical thinking, listening, media, interviewing, and small group communication.
12. With these reviews, the DEs suggestions, my own notes on the theory and research over the last few years, and my real world experiences, I begin revising the book. Of course, I’ve already been recording ideas and often have several new sections written by this time. But, here the revision process begins formally. In my case, I construct what I call a “beta” manuscript that contains the basal text, all the boxed and marginal materials, and is just about as complete as possible.
13. I then send this beta manuscript off to the DE who reviews the manuscript, making comments on just about every page. With EHC 6/e each thoroughly edited chapter was also accompanied by 2, 3, and 4 page summaries of suggested changes to be made for the chapter. Sometimes the comments are stylistic (use a more direct style, change this word or phrase, or use an active sentence—not unlike the things we tell our students), sometimes structural (rearrange these 3 paragraphs, bullet these principles, make this heading a subhead, or add a paragraph previewing the points you’ll discuss), and sometimes content-oriented (you didn’t discuss . . . , this needs a clearer explanation, or give 1 or 2 examples).
14. Meanwhile the publisher sends me a CD of the electronic files from the previous edition. Some publishers prefer author’s to work with tearsheets while others prefer author’s to work with all new manuscript (created from the compositor’s files of the previous edition). I use the tearsheets on which I can indicate changes without obscuring what’s on the page. For new material and for sections that are revised extensively, I create new text files. The resulting manuscript is a combination of edited tearsheets and new manuscript pages.
15. Once all the elements are in place, a sample chapter is created for design. This chapter must contain all the elements that are in the book. I also submit an extensive design memo in which I identify all the elements and give my opinions as to what I think the design should reflect. The design memo for EHC 6/e that I created was a four-page 2 x 16 table. This design memo is then edited by the DE and AE and it, along with the sample chapter, is turned over to the designer who uses these as guides for the design of the new edition.
16. Meanwhile, I submit a list of photo specs. Usually, a revised edition is allowed about 35 percent new photos; the rest have to be reused from the last edition. So, for the new ones, I submit specs, for example, “a female speaker around 20 years old addressing a multicultural audience in a college type setting” or “a husband and wife arguing while children are watching them.” Along with these specific specs for each new photo, I include general specs such as suggestions to make the photos multicultural, to have people with disabilities represented, to include same-sex as well as opposite-sex pairings, to make sure that women are portrayed in power positions, and so on. These specs then go to the photo editor who searches the archives and submits 2, 3, 4, 5, and sometimes more photos for each spec. I then make the final selections and write the captions and indicate where in the manuscript each photo should go. In the current editions of Interpersonal Messages and Essentials of Human Communication, we’re trying something new. Here the DE wrote the specs, selected the photos to be picked up from the previous edition, and paired each photo with a quotation from a list that I supplied for each chapter. I had two goals in mind here. First, I wanted someone with a totally new perspective on photos to make the selections; sometimes you can get into a rut and simply select the same types of photos over and over again. Second, since I have the “What do you say?” marginal items and questions for discussion at the ends of the chapters, the photo ViewPoints were no longer distinctive.
17. Sometime around this time, an ancillary program is developed--the videos, DVDs, booklets, software, and Internet resources that can accompany the textbook. About this I know very little.
18. Also, I guess around this time, a marketing plan is created. A sales marketing page, identifying the features of the text and especially what is new to this edition, is created and sent to sales representatives. I also see the preliminary version of this page and comment on it. This marketing plan, I’m assuming, is discussed at the semi-annual sales meetings. I’ve never attended one so I don’t really know what goes on at these meetings but I assume the new books are discussed to help the sales representatives learn about the new books.
19. If the book is to have cartoons (as both Interpersonal Messages and Essentials of Human Communication do), they, like the photos, have to be about 65% pickups and 35% new. In this case, the DE selected the cartoons from a large group that I selected and submitted.
20. At around this time the cover is designed. Usually several covers are designed around a set of specs that the author, DE, and AE provide. Everyone gets involved in the cover, including the marketing manager.
21. I then construct a revised manuscript (let’s say the Alpha manuscript). The text manuscript contains: the title page, the brief toc, the detailed toc, the specialized toc, the preface, the chapters, the glossary, the bibliography. In this manuscript each box, photo, and marginal item are positioned in the manuscript. When I submit the manuscript, I submit it in both hard copy and electronic formats.
22. At around this time, a writer for the Instructor’s Manual is hired. Some authors write their own manuals but the practice is quickly changing to having independent people write the manual. I do submit material to be included in the IM and wrote many of the original questions but, for the most part, the IM is the work of the IM writer. And, I think, that’s helpful because it gives the instructor using the text another perspective on the material and the course.
23. A cast-off (an estimate of the total length of the book) is then (usually) undertaken. This can only be done after the design is finalized and the manuscript is in hand. Ideally, this estimate is exactly what was agreed upon between author and editor. When it isn’t, the manuscript has to be cut (almost invariably submitted manuscripts come in too long) or the length renegotiated. And, as you can appreciate, this makes revisions difficult because for every paragraph you add, one paragraph has to be deleted. Often this amounts to topic changes—if a new topic has to be added (because of new research, for example), then perhaps an entire old topic has to be deleted. This is made still more difficult because (1) reviewers almost always want things added (but rarely want things removed), (2) the DE usually asks for additional materials (and less frequently for cuts), and (3) my own tendency is to include further clarification in the form of an additional example or definition. Yet you need to come in at the same length as the last edition. One of the ways I dealt with the page length for EHC was to remove the interviewing chapter and make that a separate item that could be packaged with the text if the instructor wanted it (for no extra charge). So, it worked out to be a win-win situation. I tried to make the same change in Essential Elements of Public Speaking by taking out the small group chapter and packaging it like the interviewing pamphlet but I’ve not been successful in convincing the publisher to do this—yet. There are exceptions to this same-length-for-revision rule, of course. For example, the former Interviewing and Human Communication, is being expanded somewhat and will have a new title, The Interviewing Guidebook.
24. At the same time, I also prepare and submit a web manuscript of exercises, self-tests, and whatever other material I think might be useful to the instructor or student using the book.
25. I also submit a permissions list—a list of all the permissions I think will have to be secured. A Permissions Editor is then assigned to work on this and secures the necessary permissions. Occasionally permission is denied. Recently, for example, Conan O’Brien, Sidney Poitier, and James Cameron denied permission to reprint their speeches though they’re all on the Internet. Others—like John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Woody Allen (whose material I used in an earlier version of the public speaking book)—were accommodating and gracious.
26. At about this time, a design has been created for the book. A “pamphlet” of about 16 or so pages is printed showing how all the elements of the text will be designed and the colors that will be used. The AE, DE, marketing manager, and I look over the design—sent to all in PDF—and all comment on it. Invariably several things are changed and perhaps some colors are changed. A revised design is then submitted. Hopefully everyone loves it. If not, it may have to be done again.
27. The text manuscript is then prepared for turnover by the EA or DE. Depending on how the author prepares the manuscript this preparation may involve creating a separate table and figure manuscript or renumbering the pages or pointing out missing elements. It always involves extensive coding for each element in the text. With electronic files, all elements have to be coded so that the correct fonts, spacing, positioning, and so on are used.
28. At this point, a Project Editor (PE), who had been assigned to the book sometime earlier, takes over. The PE coordinates all activities among the author, pager, compositor, copy editor, and printer.
29. A Copy Editor (CE) is then appointed who goes through the manuscript word by word, making sure that the style manual of the publisher is followed, that every reference in the text is included in the bibliography, that all key words appear in the glossary, that the summary accurately reflects the chapter contents, that all terms in the vocabulary quizzes are in fact in the chapter, that the headings are all coded as they should be, that there are no contradictions or seeming contradictions, that everything in the text is as clear as it can be, that the spelling is accurate and the sentences grammatical, and does lots more.
30. This copy-edited manuscript is then returned to me and I review all the changes, add the missing bibliography items (invariably this is my most unpleasant task), and in general do everything the CE suggests that seems logical and helpful—usually about 99%.
31. The reviewed copy-edited manuscript is then returned to the PE who instructs the compositor to make various changes and sends it off to the printer.
32. From the manuscript and the book’s design, the text pages are created. These are then sent to the author who reviews them for accuracy—making sure the headings are correct, the bullets appear as they should, the placement of the boxes, cartoons, photos, and marginal notes are all logically positioned and, in general, makes sure that all looks as it should. At the same time a proof reader makes sure all is correctly printed.
33. At the same time, an indexer is hired to create an index according to specifications already established (for example, whether there will be both a name and a concept index or just one index). The length of the index is also influenced by the subject matter, the purpose of the text, and by the number of pages available.
34. The completed text is published. Copies are sent to the editor, marketing manager, sales representatives, instructors, and others, and I get my six copies.
35. I label one copy “review copy” and begin to record what I like and what I dislike and, most important, what I’d change.
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Exploring Cultural Attitudes
One of the best ways to appreciate the influence of culture on communication is to consider the attitudes people have about central aspects of culture. In a group of 5 or 6—try for as culturally diverse a group as possible—discuss how you think most of the students at your school feel (not how you feel) about each of the following. Use a five-point scale: 5 = most students strongly agree; 4 = most students agree; 3 = students are relatively neutral; 2 = most students disagree; 1 = most students strongly disagree.
_____ 1. Most people receiving welfare benefits don’t really want to work.
_____ 2. The issue of discrimination against women is overly exaggerated.
_____ 3. Homosexuals are mainly interested in having sex with many partners.
_____ 4. Minorities would be successful if they worked hard and stopped complaining.
_____ 5. Racism isn’t going to end overnight so minorities need to be patient.
_____ 6. Poverty is just a natural way of life for some people.
_____ 7. Most feminists are just too sensitive about sexism.
_____ 8. Both females and males are victims of sexism.
_____ 9. Gay rights means gay men and lesbians demanding special privileges.
_____ 10. All men and women have a choice to be homosexual or not.
_____ 11. Racism isn’t going to end overnight so minorities need to be patient.
_____ 12. Minorities have the same opportunity as whites to succeed in our society.
Attitudes strongly influence communication. Understanding your cultural attitudes is prerequisite to effective intercultural communication.
Source: These statements were taken from the Human Relations Attitude Inventory (Koppelman, with Goodhart, 2005). The authors note that this inventory is based on an inventory developed by Flavio Vega.
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Self-esteem is a measure of how valuable you think you are; people with high self-esteem thinking very highly of themselves whereas people with low self-esteem view themselves negatively. Before reading further about this topic, consider your own self-esteem by taking the following self-test.
Test Yourself: How’s Your Self-Esteem?
Respond to each of the following statements with TRUE if the statement describes you at least some significant part of the time FALSE if the statement describes you rarely or never.
1. Generally, I feel I have to be successful in all things.
2. A number of my acquaintances are often critical or negative of what I do and how I think.
3. I often tackle projects that I know are impossible to complete to my satisfaction.
4. When I focus on the past, I more often focus on my failures than on my successes and on my negative rather than my positive qualities.
5. I make little effort to improve my personal and interpersonal skills.
How did you do? TRUE responses to the questions would generally be seen as getting in the way of building positive self-esteem. FALSE responses would indicate that you thinking much like a self-esteem coach would want you to think.
What will you do? The following discussion elaborates on these five issues and illustrates why each of them creates problems for the development of healthy self-esteem. So, this is a good starting place. You might also want to log into the Natinoal Association for Self-Esteem’s website (http://www.self-esteem-nase.org). There you’ll find a variety of materials for examining and for bolstering self-esteem.
The basic idea behind self-esteem is that when you feel good about yourself—about who you are and what you’re capable of doing—you will perform better. When you think like a success, you’re more likely to act like a success. When you think you’re a failure, you’re more likely to act like a failure. Increasing self-esteem will, therefore, help you to function more effectively in school, in interpersonal relationships, and in careers. Here are five suggestions for increasing self-esteem that parallel the questions in the self-test.
Attack Self-Destructive Beliefs
Challenge those beliefs you have about yourself that are unproductive or that make it more difficult for you to achieve your goals—for example, the belief that you have to succeed in everything you do, the belief that you have to be loved by everyone, the belief that you must be strong at all times, and the belief that you must please others (Butler, 1981). Replace these self-destructive beliefs with more productive ones, such as “I succeed in many things but I don’t have to succeed in everything” and “It would be nice to be loved by everyone, but it isn’t necessary to my happiness.
Seek Out Nourishing People
Psychologist Carl Rogers (1970) drew a distinction between noxious and nourshing people. Noxious people criticize and find fault with just about everything. Nourishing people, on the other hand, are positive and optimistic. Most important, they reward us, they stroke us, they make us feel good about ourselves. To enhance your self-esteem, seek out these people. At the same time, avoid noxious others, those who make you feel negatively about yourself. At the same time, seek to become more nourishing yourself so that you each build up the other’s self-esteem.
Work on Projects That Will Result in Success
Some people want to fail, or so it seems. Often, they select projects that will result in failure simply because they are impossible to complete. Avoid this trap and select projects that will result in success. Each success will help build self-esteem. Each success will make the next success a little easier. When a project does fail, recognize that this does not mean that you’re a failure. Everyone fails somewhere along the line. Failure is something that happens; it’s not something you’ve created, and it’s not something inside you. Further, your failing once does not mean that you will fail the next time. So put failure in perspective.
Remind Yourself of Your Successes
Some people have a tendency to focus, sometimes too much, on their failures, their missed opportunities, their social mistakes. If your objective is to correct what you did wrong or to identify the skills that you need to correct these failures, then focusing on failures can have some positive value. But, if you just focus on failure without any plans for correction, then you’re probably just making life more difficult for yourself and limiting your self-esteem. To counteract the tendency to recall failures, remind yourself of your successes. Recall these successes both intellectually and emotionally. Realize why they were successes and relive the emotional experience when you sank the winning basketball or aced that test or helped your friend overcome personal problems. And while you’re at it, recall too your positive qualities. For a start read down the list of the essential interpersonal skills on the inside covers and check off those you’d consider among your assets. To this list add any other qualities you number among your positive qualities.
It’s frequently recommended that you remind yourself of your successes—that you focus on your good deeds; on your positive qualities, strengths, and virtues; and on your productive and meaningful relationships with friends, loved ones, and relatives (Aronson, Cohen, & Nail, 1998; Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 1999).
The idea behind this advice is that the way you talk to yourself will influence what you think of yourself. If you affirm yourself—if you tell yourself that you’re a success, that others like you, that you will succeed on the next test, and that you will be welcomed when asking for a date—you will soon come to feel more positive about yourself. Self-affirmations include statements like: “I’m a worthy person,” “I’m responsible and can be depended upon,” “I’m capable of loving and being loved,” “I’m a good team player,” and “I can accept my past but also let it go.”
However, not all researchers agree with this advice. Some argue that such affirmations—although extremely popular in self-help books—may not be very helpful. These critics contend that if you have low self-esteem, you’re not going to believe your self-affirmations, because you don’t have a high opinion of yourself to begin with (Paul, 2001). They propose that the alternative to self-affirmation is to secure affirmation from others. You’d do this by, for example, becoming more interpersonally competent and interacting with more positive people. In this way you’d get more positive feedback from others—which, these researchers argue, is more helpful than self-talk in raising self-esteem.
Identification with people similar to yourself also seems to increase self-esteem. For example, deaf people who identified with the larger deaf community had greater self-esteem than those who didn’t so identify (Jambon & Elliott, 2005). Similarly, identification with your cultural group seems also helpful in developing positive self-esteem (McDonald, McCabe, Yeh, Lau, Garland, & Hough, 2005).
As in the previous edition, a cautionary note is added in one of the questions for discussion:
Popular psychology and many television talk shows (especially Oprah) emphasize the importance of self-esteem. The self-esteem camp has come under attack from critics, however (for example, Bushman & Baumeister, 1998; Baumeister, Bushman, & Campbell, 2000; Bower, 2001; Coover & Murphy, 2000; Hewitt, 1998). Much current thinking holds that high self-esteem is not desirable: It does nothing to improve academic performance, it does not predict success, and it even may lead to antisocial (especially aggressive) behavior. On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine how a person would function successfully without positive self-feelings. How do you feel about the benefits or liabilities of self-esteem? Would you have included this topic in this text?
Dialogue for Analysis
The Intercultural Relationship
Here’s a dialogue centering on intercultural relationships. Analyze the dialogue and try to identify examples of effective and ineffective interpersonal communication. How might you have engaged in this dialogue to make it a more effective, satisfying, and culturally sensitive interaction?
Annette, Barbara, Caroline, and Dana, all in their early 30’s
The four former college best friends now meet once a year for an elaborate reunion dinner.
Annette It’s so great getting together every year.
Barbara I’m always anxious to hear what everyone’s been up to.
Dana Well, I got engaged.
At once What? Engaged? When did this happen?
Annette You weren’t even dating anyone the last time we met!
Dana I guess I just met the man I’ve been look for all my life. And he’s not even from our country.
Barbara You couldn’t find someone right here? In this entire country?
Annette What did your parents say?
Dana They were furious.
Annette I bet they were.
Dana They were furious; they told me all the reasons it wouldn’t work and all the reasons I should get my head examined. And they want nothing to do with any children we might have. They don’t even want to see their own future grandchildren.
Barbara You know interracial relationships don’t work.
Caroline And it’s just not accepted—despite what you see on TV.
Barbara And TV is NOT reality.
Caroline And don’t be fooled into thinking everything will be ok—it won’t.
Annette And what about the kids?
Barbara Is he—tell me, he is—at least a Christian?
Dana No—surprise No. 3—he’s an atheist and a communist.
Annette Your parents are right; you should have your head examined.
Caroline You need to reconsider this, honey. You’re going to make the rest of your life very difficult. And what about the kids?
Dana Your kids are the ones to suffer. They won’t know who they are or where they belong. I know this for a fact. You know my cousin married that creep from Lebanon or some such third world country.
Annette And you’re going to bring your kids up as little atheists? That’ll make them real popular.
Caroline You’re pregnant aren’t you?
Dana No, I’m not pregnant but we are trying.
Dana Well, we intend to expose the children to a variety of religious viewpoints and let them make up their own minds. I mean isn’t that more logical than shoving one religion down their throats?
Barbara And where will you live?
Dana We’ll live partly in North Korea—he has a big family there and he’s very close to them and we get along real well. And we’ll live partly right here in Tokyo. By the way, his name is Kwon and we love each other.
Dialogue for Analysis
The Reluctant Listeners
Here is a simple dialogue that illustrates the difficulty people have listening to things they don’t want to hear. As you read the dialogue, try to identify the principles of listening that these individuals violate and indicate what they might have done to make listening more effective.
Sam (the father)
Kate (the mother)
Jack (son, age 16)
Heather (daughter, 19 years old)
Bobby (son, age 13)
The family is watching television.
Sam Kate, pass the popcorn; this is great stuff.
Jack Hey, mom, dad; I need to say something.
Heather What’s up? Let’s hear.
Bobby I need to get new sneakers.
Kate Oh, I forgot all about them. Let’s go on Saturday and I need to get a new toaster, coffee filters, and a hundred other things.
Sam And pick me up some duct tape—a six roll pack.
Heather So, Jack, you wanted to say something.
Kate Yes, dear, what is it?
Sam You’re not getting a car—not until you’re 18. And not unless you start college.
Jack It’s not a car. It’s me. I don’t know how to say this exactly but I think I’m gay. I mean I am gay. I know I’m gay.
Sam Holy shit! You mean you’re a faggot? My son is a faggot?
Kate Hold on Sam. He’s only 16; he doesn’t really know what he is. Lots of boys go through this phase.
Jack It’s not a phase Mom.
Sam Well, it better be a phase—if you want to live in this house, that is.
Bobby Tricia’s brother is gay; she told me.
Kate Bobby, don’t say things like that.
Heather I think it’s great that Jack’s come out.
Sam Come out! Out where? The neighbors don’t know, do they?
Kate I’m not sure what to say. Do you want to go to therapy? Do you want to get cured?
Jack Mom, being gay isn’t a disease that you get cured of. I’m gay and will always be gay.
Kate But, I can’t bear to see you unhappy.
Jack Mom, I’m not unhappy; I’m gay.
Kate Well, I don’t care; you’re not gay; you’re going to see Reverend Wilson. You’ll see, it’ll all work out. You’re not gay. He’s not gay, Sam.
Jack Mom, I am gay. Aren’t you listening?
Sam You better not be; no faggot is going to live in this house, under my roof, and eat my food. I’m going to the bar. [exits]
Heather So, what’s the big deal—he’ll listen to Barbra Streisand and sing Broadway show tunes—(Sings) I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses.
Jack Heather! She’s kidding Mom.
Heather Yes, Mom, I’m kidding.
Kate Let’s not talk anymore about this. Bobby, what kind of sneakers do we have to get?
There seems renewed interest in the “dark side” of interpersonal communication. The Cupach & Spitzberg book (The Dark Side of Interpersonal Communication) was published in 1994 (Erlbaum) and was, I think, the first book-length treatment of this topic in the communication field. For whatever reason (I guess there are many) there’s increased interest in this area. So, in the revision of Messages, one way I’m going to try to address this is to include something like the following. It’s my first draft.
The Dark Side of Interpersonal Relationships
Before reading about this important but often neglected topic, take the following self-test.
Test Yourself. Is Violence a Part of Your Relationship?
Based on your present relationship or one you know, respond to the following questions with Yes if you do see yourself in the question or No if you do not see yourself here.
_____ 1. Do you fear your partner’s anger?
_____ 2. Does your partner ever threaten you?
_____ 3. Has your partner ever verbally abused you?
_____ 4. Has your partner ever forced you to do something you didn’t want to do?
_____ 5. Has your partner ever hit (slapped, kicked, pushed) you?
_____ 6. Has your partner isolated you from your friends or relatives?
How did you do? These six items are all signs of a violent partner and a violent relationship. You might also want to change the questions around a bit and ask yourself if your partner would answer Yes to any of these questions about you?
What will you do? If any of these questions describes your relationship, you may wish to seek professional help. Discussing these questions with your partner, which may seem the logical first step, may well create additional problems and perhaps incite violence. So you’re better off discussing this with a school counselor or some other professional. At the same time, if any of these apply to you—if you are prone to relationship violence—do likewise—seek professional help. Additional suggestions are offered below.
Source: These questions were drawn from a variety of sources, for example, SUNY at Buffalo Counseling Services (http://ub-counseling.buffalo,edu/warnings.shtml, accessed 2/1/06), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Women’s Heath Care Physicans (http://www.acog.org/departments/dept_notice.cfm?recno=17&bulletin=198, accessed 2/1/06), and The University of Texas at Austin, The Counseling and Mental Health Center (http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/relavio/relaviol.html, accessed 2/1/06).
What Is Relationship Violence?
Three types of relationship violence may be distinguished: physical abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, sexual abuse (Rice, 0000—the US Department of Veterans Affairs, http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/specific/fs_domestic_violence.html?printable=no, accessed 2/1/06).
Physical abuse involves threats of violence as well as pushing, hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, throwing things at, and breaking things.
Verbal or emotional abuse involves humiliating, economic abuse such as controlling the finances or preventing you from working, isolating, criticizing, and stalking.
Sexual abuse involves touching that is unwanted, accusations of sexual infidelity without reason, forced sex, and referring to you with abusive sexual terms.
A great deal of research has centered on trying to identify the warning signs of relationship violence. Here, for example, are a few signs compiled by the State University of New York at Buffalo (http://ub-counseling.buffalo,edu/warnings/shtml, accessed 2/1/06):
belittles, insults, or ignores you
controls pieces of your life, for example, the way you dress or who you can be friends with
gets jealous without reason
can’t handle sexual frustrations without anger
is so angry or threatening that you’ve changed your life so as not to provoke additional anger
So prevalent is interpersonal violence that many colleges and universities, government agencies, and professional health organizations have established counseling centers to deal with the increasing interpersonal violence. Here are just a few statistics for the United States:
over 5 million incidents of interpersonal violence occur each year against women (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000)
interpersonal violence is responsible for almost 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths (http://www.cdc.gov/ncic/factsheets/ipvfacts.htm, accessed 2/1/06)
approximately 1 million women and over 350,000 men are stalked by their intimate partners each year (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000)
approximately 29% of women and 21% of men experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse in their lifetime (Coker, Davis, Arias, Desai, Sanderson, Brandt, et al, 2002)
Each year 1.5 million women and 800,000 men are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner
Approximately 20 to 30 percent of college dating relationships involve physical or verbal abuse (http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/relavio/relaviol.html, accessed 2/1/06)
The Effects of Violence
As you may expect there are a variety of consequences to relationship violence: physical injuries, psychological injuries, and economic “injuries” (http://www.cdc.gov/ncic/factsheets/ipvfacts.htm).
Most obviously when there is relationship violence there are often physical injuries. Physical injuries range from scratches and bruises to broken bones, knife wounds, and central nervous system disorders.
Even when the physical injuries are relatively minor, the psychological injuries may be major and include, for example, depression, anxiety, fear of intimacy, and of course low self-esteem.
Consider the cost to the nation. It’s been estimated that it costs approximately $6.2 billion for physical assaults and almost $500 million for rape. Interpersonal violence also results in lost days of work. The Center for Disease Control estimated that interpersonal violence costs the equivalent of 32,00 full-time job in lost work each year. Additional economic costs are incurred when interpersonal violence prevents women from maintaining a job or continuing her education.
The Alternatives to Violence
Here are some ways in which a nonviolent relationship looks when compared with a violent relationship (http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/relavio/relaviol.html, accessed 2/1/06).
Instead of emotional abuse there is fairness; you look for resolutions to conflict that will be fair to both of you.
Instead of control and isolation there is communication that makes the partner feel safe and comfortable expressing himself or herself.
Instead of intimidation there is mutual respect, mutual affirmation, and valuing of each other’s opinions.
Instead of economic abuse, the partners make financial decisions together.
Instead of making threats, there is accountability—each person accepts responsibility for one’s own behavior.
Instead of exercising power over the person where one person is the boss and the other the servant, there is a fair distribution of responsibilities.
Instead of sexual abuse there is trust and respect for what each person wants and doesn’t want.
Dealing with Violence
In addition to seeking professional help (and of course the help of friends and family where appropriate)—whether you’re a victim or a perpetrator—here are several additional suggestions (http://www.utexas.edu/student/cmhc/booklets/relavio/relaviol.html, accessed 2/1/06).
If your partner has been violent:
Realize that you’re not alone. Just review the statistics given above.
Realize you’re not at fault. You did not deserve to be the victim of violence.
Plan for your safety. Violence, if it occurred once, it’s likely to occur again.
Know your resources—the phone numbers you need to contact help, the location of money, and a spare set of keys.
If you are the violent partner:
Realize that you too are not alone. Review the statistics.
Know that you can change. It won’t necessarily be easy or quick but you can change.
Own your own behaviors; take responsibility. This is an essential step if any change is to occur.
Relationship violence is not an inevitable part of interpersonal relationships; in fact, it occurs in a minority of relationships. Yet, it’s important to know that there is the potential for violence in all relationships as there is he potential for friendship, love, support, and all the positive things we look for in relationships. Knowing the difference between productive and destructive relationships seems the best way to make sure that your own relationships are as you want them to be.