Online Bullying

Here's a wonderful post on bullying sent to me by the author. http://www.needtoknowit.org/selfdefense/school-bullying
It contains practical how-to advice.


Ethics of Advertising


In a recent article of The Ethicist in the NYTimes (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/magazine/laptop-prop.html?ref=theethicist&_r=0 ) a question was raised about the ethics of laptops being positioned in front of television newscasters if they are there to convey the impression of being up-to-the-minute (but not for actual use). It’s an interesting example of artifactual communication being used to influence credibility.
            A second part of the question concerned the ethics of displaying the computer company logo. Is this advertising (product placement), the writer asked, ethical for a news show? In the answer to this question Chuck Klosterman, the ethicist, says that the display of a logo or the mention of a particular designer’s name does not constitute advertisement if there is no payment and if the person has no intention of advertising. This, it seems to me, is true from only one point of view, that of the sender. The sender—the wearer of the designer’s clothes or the laptop user—may not think advertising and so one can say from that point of view that there is no advertising. But, the receiver is being influenced; to the receiver, the network user’s computer logo is an advertisement and may well influence buying behavior. This, it also seems, is one of the reasons so many designers put their name in clear view. Isn't this a distinction worth making?


Speech Rehearsal

Speech Rehearsal

Often we advise students to rehearse their speeches five or six times which often seems to students to be a lot. In a recent NYTimes (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/magazine/jerry-seinfeld-intends-to-die-standing-up.html) article, it noted that Seinfeld (a communication major from Queens College, btw) rehearsed his five-minute set for the Tonight Show 200 times. Now, that’s a lot.



New Words

Words of 2012
The New York Times annually identifies new words of the year. Invariably there are several communication terms:


Talk to Connect


Here is a guest post written by Leah DeCesare. Leah DeCesare is a writer and blogger (www.MothersCircle.net) writing about perspectives on parenting from a mother of three, educator and doula. She is a certified birth and postpartum doula as well as childbirth educator and Certified Lactation Counselor, serving families in Rhode Island. Leah is currently conducting the Mother’s Circle Young Women’s Birth Survey open to 18-26 year olds (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/youngwomensbirthsurvey.) She is the Co-Founder and Co-President of Doulas of Rhode Island, a past DONA International Northeast Regional Director and she volunteers with Families First RI.

Meta Description:
I like to talk. I talk to connect and get closer to people. Most people like to talk. Connecting is human, talking is still our most genuine way of connecting.

I like to talk. I talk to connect and get closer to people. What I’ve realized is most people like to talk - and talk a lot. People talk. A lot. Connecting is human and talking is still our most genuine way of connecting. In a world with changing personal contact, where interactions through technology reign, talking is still a precious gift to join hearts and minds with others.

Over the years, I’ve had to grin through painful comments about my talking, sometimes disguised as jokes, other times delivered more directly. Some close friends may comment endearingly but I’ve received critical, judgmental and hurtful remarks. Yet, as rude and cutting as it feels, such frank statements make me think.

I’m open-minded and I work to be a better person each day, to challenge myself to improve in myriad ways and I take the time to self reflect. In truth, I am hyper-aware of telling a story too long or of the conversation tipping in my direction. I’m ultra sensitive to when someone has asked me so many questions that it seems I’m doing all the talking so I work to redirect the conversation toward them. I notice when I’ve gotten excited and interrupted a friend’s story, but then I apologize and return to where she left off.

I not only observe how I interact, but I also witness how those around me converse. Turns out, women, in particular, talk over one another as a routine. Watch any group of girl friends together and you’ll see it’s a usual and accepted chatting style, and somehow, everyone talks and everyone’s heard. Though, it’s also not the only way women talk together.

Equally often, we share the floor, rotating around, hearing stories, nodding, commenting, asking questions, listening more. Then another person picks up and her story has our attention and focus until it’s the next person’s turn to chime in with a tale.

One particular night after someone blithely made a comment to me about how much I talk, I swallowed and forced a polite smile, and became completely silent. I sat mute, watching, surveying, listening, contemplating. Throughout the evening, I paid attention as everyone took a turn dominating the conversation, talking “too much” and going on and on.

Every single person talked and talked at some point and not one talking-person turned to include or invite in another while she was front and center. The talker talked. It’s what we do, it how we affiliate ourselves with a group, it’s how we belong and how we bridge space and grow friends.

The truth is, I do like to talk and if I’m not talking much it’s likely that I’m not engaged enough to build a relationship. But, the truth is, I also like to listen and I’m a good listener. Listening is the other half of connecting. I welcome the words from my friends, acquaintances, and even strangers in the check out line and I care about what is going on in others’ lives.

My husband teases me because no matter where I am, people open up to me and tell me intimate details of their lives. This happens so often that it’s become unremarkable when I tell him the life story of someone I crossed paths with that day. I’ve heard all about divorces from a car mechanic complete with details of clothes thrown out the window, I’ve heard about the journey to adoption waiting for the fish guy at the supermarket, I’ve learned of a woman’s struggle with cancer while sitting in a waiting room, the drugstore clerk confided that he quit drinking and I’ve heard countless birth stories from strangers and friends alike. I listen.

In social circles, I listen. I bear witness to friends’ stories, hear their pains and celebrate their triumphs. I listen with compassion and I remember. I remember to ask a friend about a procedure scheduled for their child, how their fundraiser went or how they like their new yoga class. I remember my friends’ birthdays and the anniversary of their Dad’s death. I care deeply, I express it in touch, notes, presence and, yes, talking.

I have a funny sense in my being that feels dishonest when I don’t offer details, when I’m not explaining something fully, when I don’t share totally. It’s as if I’m in a movie where two characters meet, each having information the other needs but not telling one another. I think sometimes I talk more because it feels more honest to that quirky thing in my heart.

And sometimes, I wonder if I’m perceived as talking more than others because I talk really fast (and even faster if I have any caffeine). Or maybe it’s because I initiate dialogues, or speak with energy and animation (and maybe a little loudly). I’m bold, happy, enthusiastic and so I gush and effuse.

I’m candid, unreserved and unafraid to articulate what’s in my soul. So maybe I do talk a lot, maybe I do talk more than others, but it’s who I am. It’s how I relate, it’s how I embrace, envelop, offer, share and give. If I’m talking with you, I’m giving you a piece of myself and I’m open for receiving a piece of you, too, when you talk with me.


Wells Fargo advertisement about conversation:

They can be impassioned. Funny. Enlightening. Or inspiring.

They can open doors. And build relationships.

Some can even change the world.

At Wells Fargo, we believe you should never underestimate the power of a conversation.

It’s how we learn. How we grow. And how ideas spread.

It’s at the heart of everything we do.







Power Strategies

Strategies for Power
Here is a discussion of the communication of power which I wrote for my 50 Communication Strategies book and that I thought might be of interest to a wide variety of readers.


Power is the ability of one person to influence what another person thinks or does. You have power over another person to the extent that you can influence what this person thinks or what this person does. And, conversely, another person has power over you to the extent that he or she can influence what you think or do. Perhaps the most important aspect of power to recognize is that power is asymmetrical: If one person has greater power, the other person must have less. If you are stronger than another person, then this person is weaker than you. If you are richer, then the other person must be poorer. In any one area—for example, strength or financial wealth—one person has more and, inevitably and by definition, the other person has less (is weaker or poorer).  The varied types of power are identified in the & Box, Types of Power.


Bullying in schools

Here’s an interesting article on bullying, a topic we're just beginning to introduce into our basic communication textbooks.  Odd that it's taken so long for us to include this considering that it's a communciation activity that has enormous consequences for schools, the workplace, and society in general. This little article focuses on children but the suggestions could just as easily be adapted to workplace bullying or bullying in general. According to a 2011 survey cited here, over 8 million students (12-18 years old) or 32% of all students in that age group reported being bullied in school. The signs to look for, according to this article, are:

Unexplained injuries or property damage

Signs of aversion to school

Difficulty sleeping and/or nightmares

Poor academic performance

Loss of interest in school activities


Self-destructive behavior


Product Placement Exercise

The recent release of Skyfall and the news that Heineken spent $45 million dollars to have James Bond drink its beer makes a perfect introduction to the issue of product placement. The following is a brief discussion of product placement and an exercise I developed for the artifactual communication chapter in my nonverbal communication book—still in manuscript. I thought this might be useful to those teaching the nonverbal communication course or a unit in an introductory course.

In much the same way that we make judgments about people on the basis of the products they use (jewelry, furs, and name brands from Prada to Old Navy), we also make judgments about products on the basis of the people who use them, a tendency that has spawned huge product placement efforts by major corporations. Product placement refers simply to the placement of a product—for a fee but without any explicit advertising statements—within a scene of a movie or television show to give it a certain image. The advertiser’s hope is that you’ll identify with the actor using the product (that is, you want to be like the character, in some ways) and that you too will then also buy the product. The actor and the movie give the product an image that the advertiser assumes will help sell the product.

In the 2012 James Bond Skyfall, for example, Heineken paid $45 million to have Bond drink its beer (New York Daily News, November 9, 2012). In addition, Bond wears a Tom Ford suit and an Omega watch while Q uses a Sony Vaio—all very clear to the viewer. Another Bond film, however, holds the record for product placements; the 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies earned $100 million for its product placements. The same is true on television; the Cheesecake Factory on The Big Bang Theory and McDonald’s on 30 Rock are good examples. Product placement is, of course, nothing new; recall James Bond’s Aston Martin in the 1964 Goldfinger and E.T. eating Reese’s Pieces in the 1982 E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

As you no doubt already know, product placement is occurring in television sitcoms and dramas and in feature films with ever increasing frequency. That fact that this type of advertising aims to influence you subliminally raises all sorts of serious ethical issues. Those who favor or defend product placement, such as the American Advertising Federation argue:

Product placement is a legitimate source of advertising revenue and is not deceptive. It benefits both content producers and consumers and adds verisimilitude to fictional programming. We oppose proposals that would require simultaneous “pop up” notices of every instance of product placement, believing this would make television unwatchable. We instead believe the current practice of disclosures at the end of the program works well.

Those who oppose product placement argue that it’s deceptive because viewers are not aware that it’s a paid advertisement. It is subliminal advertising—messages that somehow get communicated without mindfulness or awareness. And, despite the AAF’s statement, no one can really read the disclosures at the end of a television program, nor would anyone want to. Further, the enormous profits to be made from product placement will likely lead to its spread to news shows which will further erode fairness and objectivity.

Regardless of the possible ethical violations, product placement is likely to remain a part of movies and television; it is too lucrative a market for it to disappear any time soon.

Product Placement

To sensitize you to the many ways in which advertisers try to influence you below the level of conscious awareness—and in effect counteract the influence of product placement—consider this exercise on product placement, another aspect of space decoration. During the next movie you watch—there are lots more in movies than in television shows—identify any product placements you notice and fill in the remaining columns of the accompanying table. The example provided will clarify the parts of this exercise.


Movie: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­__________________________________________________.  Year: _______.


How was the product used? What’s the context?
Intended meaning
Burger King hamburger bag
Iron Man Tony Stark wants an American hamburger before anything else
Burger King is the hamburger of choice, especially when you’re dying for one



50 Communication Strategies

I’ve assembled (and rewrote) some of my blog posts and a variety of other brief pieces into a book that I published with iUniverse, a subsidy publisher (recently acquired by Penguin, a division of Pearson), called 50 Communication Strategies. One of the advantages of publishing a book this way was that I didn’t need an agent. Textbook authors rarely have agents; in fact, I don’t know of one textbook author who does have an agent. The other great advantage is that you don’t have to write a proposal. There are also disadvantages to doing a book this way as well. But, on balance, the procedure was relatively painless and certainly fast moving.  They even set up a website for the book—www.50communicationstrategies.com. In general, I'm very pleased with the finished product.




Here’s a neat little list on ways to build confidence in a child, sent to me by the author, Sara Dawkins. Among the suggestions are:

  • Encourage independence
  • Praise the process, not the product
  • Applaud safe risk taking
  • Show unconditional love
  • Be a self-confident role model
  • Foster an “I can” attitude

With just a little tweaking this list is relevant to a wide variety of topics we talk about in interpersonal communication, e.g., self-esteem, empowerment, relationship development. Nor is the list limited in application to children—much of it (again, with a little tweaking) can be applied to the workplace and the classroom.


Gay History


Yesterday, TCM ran Night and Day, the biopic of Cole Porter. In it Cary Grant plays the famed songwriter/composer Cole Porter and Alexis Smith plays his loving wife. Apart from whatever merits or lack of them that this movie possessed, it’s a great example of how gay people are robbed of their history. Cole Porter was gay but this is never shown; instead you see a heterosexual male deeply in love with his wife. It’s a good example of how the media—at least in the 40’s but into the 21st century as well, contributed (along with political, religious, and social institutions) to deny gay people a legitimacy, a presence, a history. 

Also yesterday, the New York Times ran an article on “Helping a Child to Come Out” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/fashion/helping-a-gay-child-to-come-out.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), perhaps an indication of how much society has progressed, perhaps an indication of how little society has changed.

            Among the interesting things pointed out in the article are these:

1.      Gay teens have higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse, depression, and suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Helen Kahn, the director of the Family Project of the Human Rights Campaign, attributes this to the stress of being different, of being stigmatized and the problems that come with reactions from “friends” and family.

2.      Despite the attendant difficulties of coming out, one survey found that closeted gay children had an even harder time than those who did come out. Those who came out were significantly happier than those who remained in the closet.

3.      Parents need to listen to their children—often between the lines—so that they can help the child come out in his or her own time. Parents also need to show that their love is unconditional, that the home is a safe place where the child can discuss anything.


Nonverbal Communication Project

Here is exercise that I'm working on for a nonverbal book I'm doing that I thought might be useful. It contains just a few general instructions for creating a video and lots of video examples. Although most clearly directed at the nonverbal course, I thought this might also be appropriate in interpersonal and hybrid courses as well. The videos noted here might also prove useful to interject periodically throughout a course in nonverbal/interpersonal/human communication.

Creating a Video of Nonverbal Communication


An excellent experience for learning about nonverbal communication is to teach it. Consequently, a popular assignment in many nonverbal communication courses is to create a video to teach some aspect of nonverbal communication. You might then upload it to YouTube or some similar site, exchange videos with others, and critique each other’s videos.

There are numerous websites that illustrate and demonstrate the ways to go about making a video. For example, http://www.youtube.com/create offers a variety of suggestions for creating a video. And, of course, there are a variety of websites that will help you film, design, and edit your video. Just search for “video design,” “create video,” or similar terms and you’ll find the most recent videos on creating videos. These websites and their accompanying videos—as well as all the videos you’ve already watched--will provide a lot better instruction than any print description could.  

In addition to the suggestions you’ll find online, consider these as well.

1.      Keep your video short—aim for 2 minutes. This will force you to compact your ideas but still treat a single idea in some depth. 

2.      Clarify the purpose you want to achieve. Do you want to illustrate specific gestures or an interaction? Do you want to compare nonverbals in different cultures? Once you’ve formulated your purpose, you’ll be better able to select appropriate ways of creating your video.

3.      Select the appropriate means for achieving your purpose. So, for example, if you want to illustrate different gestures in different cultures, then you’ll likely need members of both cultures to demonstrate the gestures or you’ll need photos or graphics.

4.      Keep your subject limited. Don’t try to cover too much. For your first nonverbal communication video, consider focusing on one code and illustrating one aspect of that code—for example, if you want to focus on touch, then you might limit your video to, say, relationship touching. Or, if you want to focus on gestures, you might limit your video to adaptors or illustrators. The idea here is to cover a limited topic but in some depth rather than a broad topic in only general terms.

5.      If you use PowerPoint or Prezi slides, keep them simple. Viewers are not likely to read slides with too much information on them. Similarly don’t crowd the slides with visual images. Use additional slides rather than crowd them.

6.      Keep it professional. You may find it useful to add this video to your resume should you want employers to see it. Of course, if it’s on a public site, prospective employers are very likely to see it whether you want them to or not.

7.      Here is a list of nonverbal communication videos that you can use as examples of the varied types of videos you might create. It should prove useful to review some of these with the idea of your doing your own video. What are some of the pitfalls that you’d want to avoid? What are some of the clever techniques that you might want to adapt?

These videos vary widely in just about every conceivable way. Some are quite professional and sophisticated in terms of production while others are the works of beginners with little technical equipment. Some are basically informational—those produced by colleges and narrated by professors, for example—while others are promotional for books or seminars. Some are designed to sell a product and others are designed to fulfill a requirement in a communication course. Some of the videos make well-substantiated claims, the kinds of conclusions you find in your nonverbal communication textbooks and research articles. Others, however, make claims beyond what most academics would accept. For example, if you just watched the videos you’d come away with the idea that you can read a person like a book. Of course, you can’t.


Cultural Awareness

Here's an interesting little piece, sent to me by the author, on using cartoons to teach children cultural awareness and sensitivity. The 10 ways are easily adaptable to feature films, adult cartoons, and television shows for use with college students.


Nonverbal Communication Exercise

Here is a brief exercise that I used in teaching nonverbal communication and that I rewrote for a textbook in nonverbal that I’m in the process of writing. Here I use it as an introduction to the discussion of height but it can also be used with perception, stereotypes, and media influences, for example. You can adjust it in any way you’d like for your own classes.

Before reading about/discussing height, try your hand at estimating the heights of famous people that you’ve probably read about, heard about, and perhaps seen in photographs and film portrayals, but not face-to-face. Estimate their heights (in feet and inches) simply on the basis of the image you have of these people.

1.      Baby Face Nelson (bank robber and murderer in the 1930s) __________.

2.      Ludwig Van Beethoven (influential German composer) __________.

3.      Bonnie Parker (gangster of the 1920s and 1930s, part of the Barrow Gang) __________.

4.      Buckminister Fuller (scientist, credited with inventing the geodesic dome) __________.

5.      Clyde Barrow (gangster of the 1920s and 1930s, leader of the Barrow Gang) __________.

6.      Mahatma Gandhi (Indian political leader whose civil disobedience led to India’s independence from British rule) __________.

7.      James Madison (fourth President of the US, largely credited with writing the Constitution _______.

8.      Joan of Arc (military leader, burned for heresy at 19, and declared a Saint) __________.

9.      T. E. Lawrence [of Arabia] (adventurer and British Army officer) __________.

10.  Pablo Picasso (influential Spanish artist) __________.

This was designed to see if you would overestimate the heights of a good majority of these people. Fame seems to be associated with height and so most people would think these people were taller than they really were. The specific heights are as follows: Baby Face Nelson: 5’5”; Ludwig Van Beethoven 5’6”; Bonnie Parker: 4’10”; Buckminister Fuller: 5’2”; Clyde Barrow: 5’7”; Mahatma Gandhi: 5’3”; James Madison, 5’4”; Joan of Arc: 4’11”; T. E. Lawrence: 5’5”; Picasso: 5’4”;    



Here's an interesting piece on keeping your used textbooks. In some cases I think this is a good idea, for example, keeping the texts in your major or perhaps texts for courses you really enjoyed and want to refer to at a later time. In some cases, however, it probably would just add to clutter.


Here is a good list of things to know about bullying--something we've just started to include in our textbooks probably because of cyberbullying, tho' bullying has been around a lot longer than computers.


Encouraging Talk

Here's an interesting little piece on getting your teenager to talk to you but actually the suggestions can be used in a variety of situations.


Detecting a Relationship Fake


Here’s an article from Best Dating Sites that I was asked to consider mentioning. This one is a great classroom discussion generator and concerns the signs of a “fake gentleman”. Here are the signs—see the original article for more on these signs:

  • He always knows exactly what to say
  • He’s never ruffled or agitated
  • He always has an excuse
  • He’s evasive about his past
  • You’ve caught him in a few lies
  • He’s surgically attached to his cellphone
  • He steers the subject away from commitment
  • You’ve never met his friends
  • He’s a little bit too smooth
  • He assumes that you’ll be available on very short notice

Some of these are no doubt accurate as the guests on Maury and the Jerry Springer Show regularly demonstrate.  One problem with lists like this, as I see it, is that it’s often male bashing. I don’t notice a comparable post on the “fake woman”. And, again, if Maury’s and Jerry’s guests are any indication there are fakes in both genders.

Another problem with this is that is encourages a suspicious attitude and approach in relationships which, I suspect, is not always healthy. I’m sure there are many examples where people regret not having been suspicious enough but there are likely to be people whose suspicions ruined a potentially great relationship.  This type of thing also advises the person to assume a deception bias—an assumption that the other person is lying. Assuming a deception bias may be useful to the police officer interrogating a probable suspect but it may not be so useful or productive in interpersonal relationships, especially in the beginning stages of those relationships. It seems we’re programmed to assume a truth bias—we assume that the person we’re talking with is telling the truth; it’s one of the assumptions that make conversation possible and satisfying.

I suspect this type of post will generate lots of ideas, different points of view, and great classroom discussion of gender differences in relationships, the changing landscape of interpersonal relationships, and a variety of other topics we focus on in interpersonal communication.


Changing Behavior

I was asked to participate in a “blog tour” of the book, Changing Behavior: Immediately Transform Your Relationships with Easy to Learn, Proven Communication Skills, by Georgianna Donadio and published by SoulWork Press of Boston. I was asked to do whatever I wished—which is always nice. So, I thought I would simply mention the book and its connection with communication.

The book ranges widely in its coverage of various suggestions “to enhance and enrich your own personal relationships”—the book’s overarching aim. Not surprisingly, there’s a great deal that focuses on communication skills (as its subtitle notes). And, again not surprisingly, the skills are similar to those we teach in interpersonal communication—listening, emotional expression, mindfulness, equality, self-awareness and self-assessment (with lots of personal reflection questions), and relationship improvement (as its subtitle also notes).

This book is a not a textbook (it’s 8 ½ x 11, 142 pages, and larger type than we find in our texts) but a kind of self-help manual and will appeal to those who enjoy lots of anecdotes, an informal (not textbookish) style of presenting research, and a focus on transforming oneself and one’s relationships.

It’s interesting to note that the reviews on Amazon are extremely positive. On May 31, 2012 there were 68 reviews with an average review rating of 5 stars (the highest rating) and a rank of 10,846, indicating considerable popularity. Today (June 6, 2012), the Amazon rank was 66,523 (not sure why there’s such a large difference); there were 73 reviews with an average rating of 5 stars.


Confidence Building

Here's a neat little list of suggesstions for building confidence in children. As you'll see there is much here on communication, probably the single most important ingredient in any confidence building program.


Here's a brief list of suggestions for the child who gets teased by other children for having gay parents, probably because they have homophobic parents or teachers. The suggestions are, however, useful for any type of teasing. Interestingly enough, we don't talk about teasing in our communication texts and yet it's an extremely important and often hurtful form of communication.


Interpersonal time

Most nonverbal communication textbooks talk about time under three main headings:
  • psychological time, referring to one’s orientation to past, present, or future
  • biological time, referring to one’s body rhythms as well as preferences for early or late in the day activities
  • cultural time, referring largely to the differences in the ways different cultures treat time, whether, for example, members do one thing at a time (monochronic cultures) or a variety of things (polychronic cultures) and the social clock, the time one’s culture considers appropriate for certain rites and rituals, for example, completing college, getting married, or moving out of your parents’ house
     To these three, I’d like to propose a fourth type of time. Since all of these dimensions refer to interpersonal interactions, interpersonal time seems an appropriate name. As with all aspects of interpersonal communication, interpersonal time will be influenced by our psychology, our biology, and our culture.

The stimulus for this actually comes from the brief discussion of Burgoon, Guerrero, and Floyd (2010) in which they identify punctuality, wait time, lead time, duration, and simultaneity and Andersen and Bowman (1999) who consider  waiting-time, talk-time, and work-time in their discussion of time and its relationship to power. To these we add relationship time, synchronicity-asynchronicity and response time, the last two of which have taken on added importance due to the frequency with which we communicate via some kind of computer connection.   This post, then, is designed to re-balance the little space given to these topics in our textbooks, to add a few more dimensions, to fill in examples and implications, and to propose this general heading of Interpersonal Time for concepts we recognize as crucial in all our interpersonal communication encounters.


Memory Improvement

Here's an interesting list of suggestions for improving memory--write it down, repeat, visualize, and create rhymes, for example.


Facebookers Narcissists?

Here's a brief article from the NYTimes which reports on Lynne Kelly's research into narcissism and Facebook use.  According to Kelly's findings, Facebook use is not associated with narcissism. However, those who collect huge numbers of virtual friends do seem to be high on narcissism.



Flirting with Twitter

Here's an interesting list of things to do if you want to flirt using Twitter. In today's world, for good or ill, you need to be technologically savvy to flirt, to relate.

Deception Detection

Here's a brief list of some misconceptions about lie detector tests. If you watch Maury, then this is must reading. It should also prove useful in a nonverbal course in connection with deception and deception detection.


Commencement Addresses

Those who cover special occasion speaking in a public speaking course should find this little piece interesting. It covers a wide variety of commencement addresses that are up and coming.



In a recent NYTimes article (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-cohabiting-before-marriage.html?pagewanted=all) Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia and the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — and How to Make the Most of Them Now, notes that cohabitation has increased from 1960 with 450,000 cohabitating couples, to the present with 7.5 million cohabitation couples. More than 50% of marriages will be preceded by cohabitation and approximately 2/3rds of the respondents in a survey conducted in 2001 said that cohabitating was a good way to avoid divorce. But, says Jay: “Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect.
Perhaps the most interesting conclusion Jay draws and the one that would make the most interesting class discussion is this: men and women often have different reasons for cohabitating: “Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse.”
           A thorough statistical analysis of first marriages by the US Department of Health and Human Services, perhaps the most recent analysis, is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr049.pdf.


Factors Influencing Self-Disclosure

Many factors influence whether or not you disclose, what you disclose, and to whom you disclose. Among the most important factors are who you are, your culture, your gender, who your listeners are, and your topic and channel.

Perceptual Organization

Here is a brief discussion of that stage of perception concerned with organizing what we sense. In the next editions of Essentials of Human Communication (8e) and Interpersonal Messages (3e)—, this material will be collapsed (as always, to make room for new material). But, I thought that some instructors and students may prefer this somewhat more complete discussion.


Confirmation Examples

Here's an interesting piece that is intimately related to much of what we talk about in interpersonal communication. Unfortunately its title may lead those interested in communication to ignore--"10 things your girlfriend needs to hear you say". Briefly, the suggestions are: I'm proud of you, I love being with you, thank you, can I help you, I missed you, have fun, you look beautiful, you can do it, I'm sorry, and please. These are all perfect examples of confirmation and "cherishing behaviors" and should help make concepts that are often overly abstract, more concrete and useful. Many are also good examples of politeness--another indication that politeness is an essential component of interpersonal communication, though ignored in many of our textbooks.


Facebook Habits

Here's an interesting piece on bad habits that kids can pick up from their Facebook activities. The habits identified and the suggestions are really applicable to everyone, not just kids. To this list I would add the principle that online communication is irreversible and uneraseable.


Because I said so

Here is a brief article sent to me by someone from this site--usually packed with useful and practical information. In this case, however, I would disagree. The article identifies 10 instances when it's o.k. to say "because I said so" in answer to one or more of a child's questions. Generally, I would argue that "because I said so" is not so much an answer to the child's question as an expression of frustration on the part of the parent. It doesn't answer the child's question; rather, it tells the child to "shut up," "go away," "your questions are annoying me". It's a disconfirming strategy. In addition, saying "because I said so" misses the great opportunity for the parent to teach the child logical reasoning--for example, that certain things are related--like not getting enough sleep and poor performance on the field or in the test. It also discourages the child from asking questions; the child will soon learn that his or her questions are not welcomed and that life is a lot better when you don't ask questions--an outcome we really don't want to encourage.
     This is not to say that some questions aren't annoying and frustrating; many are. But, "answering" with "because I said so" should not be a recommended solution.



Communication Strategies: Positiveness

Positiveness in interpersonal communication has to do with the use of positive rather than negative messages. For example, instead of the negative “I wish you wouldn’t ignore my opinions,” consider the positive alternative: “I feel good when you ask my opinions.” Instead of the negative “You look horrible with long hair” consider the positive: “I think you look great with short hair.” As you can expect, positive messages are important to creating and maintaining relationship satisfaction and are used more often by women, both in face-to-face and in computer-mediated communication, than by men. Interestingly enough, optimism has been found to positively correlate with relationship satisfaction and happiness; the more optimistic you are, the more your outlook is positive, the greater your relationship satisfaction and happiness are likely to be.
Here are a few suggestions for communicating positiveness.


Saying "I love you" online

Here is a brief article on saying "I love you" online. It looks like it will make an interesting discussion starter for relationship development and commitment.


Politeness as an Interpersonal Relationship Theory

This brief discussion of politeness as an interpersonal relationship theory comes from my Interpersonal Communication Book but I thought that those using Interpersonal Messages or Essentials of Human Communication might also find this relevant. 

Another approach to relationships looks at politeness as a major force in developing, maintaining, and deteriorating relationships. Politeness theory would go something like this: Two people develop a relationship when each respects, contributes to, and acknowledges the positive and negative face needs of the other and it deteriorates when they don't.

How to be Liked at Work

Like all cultures, workplace cultures have their own rituals, norms, and rules for communicating. These rules, whether in an interview situation or in a friendly conversation, delineate appropriate and inappropriate verbal and nonverbal behavior, specify rewards (or punishments for breaking the rules), and tell you what will help you get and keep a job and what won’t. For example, the general advice given throughout this text is to emphasize your positive qualities, to highlight your abilities, and to minimize any negative characteristics or failings. But in some organizations—especially within collectivist cultures such as those of China, Korea, and Japan—workers are expected to show modesty (Copeland & Griggs, 1985). If you stress your own competencies too much, you may be seen as arrogant, brash, and unfit to work in an organization where teamwork and cooperation are emphasized. Here are just a few of the ways to be liked at work which, as you’ll see, are essentially rules for communicating.

Politeness in the Workplace: Self-Test

I originally created this self-test on politeness for the revision of Interpersonal Messages but later decided to use a more general (and shorter) self-test for politeness. But, I thought this one might be of use as well, especially for those who want to focus on the workplace.


Moving in Together

Here's an interesting list of suggestions for moving in together. This fits in well with our text discussions of relationship development but it's something none of the textbooks touch on.


Interaction Management

The term interaction management has been used in a variety of studies on interpersonal communication and refers to the techniques and strategies by which you regulate and carry on interpersonal interactions. It is certainly one of the essential interpersonal skills. Effective interaction management results in an interaction that’s satisfying to both parties. Neither person feels ignored or that he or she must carry on the entire conversation; each contributes to, benefits from, and enjoys the interpersonal exchange.

Of course, all interpersonal communication theory, research, and skills are devoted to the effective management of interpersonal interactions. Here, however, are three specific suggestions:

<  Maintain your role as speaker or listener and pass the opportunity to speak back and forth—through appropriate eye movements, vocal expressions, and body and facial gestures. This will show that you’re in control of and comfortable in the interaction.

<  Keep the conversation fluent, avoiding long and awkward pauses. Powerful people always have something to say. For example, it’s been found that patients are less satisfied with their interaction with their doctor when the silences between their comments and the doctor’s responses are overly long.

<  Communicate with verbal and nonverbal messages that are consistent and reinforce each other. Avoid sending mixed messages or contradictory signals—for example, a nonverbal message that contradicts the verbal message. These will signal indecision and hence a lack of power.


Politeness for Kids

Here's a brief list of reasons for children to say "thank you" and is a useful primer on teaching politeness behavior to children.

Dating Cautions


Here's a clever little piece on cautions to observe when a potential dating partner seems too perfect to be real.


Falling out of Love

Here's an interesting article on relationship dissolution which should spark lots of class discussion especially on Valentine's Day.



Here is a brief discussion of equality as a communication strategy to add to those already posted.

In interpersonal communication the term equality refers to an attitude or approach that treats each person as an important and vital contributor to the interaction. In any situation, of course, there will be some inequality; one person will be higher in the organizational hierarchy, more knowledgeable, or more interpersonally effective. But despite this fact, an attitude of superiority is to be avoided. Interpersonal communication is generally more effective when it takes place in an atmosphere of equality.




Here's a great list of ways to teach basic politeness to kids. In many ways, these are common communication principles and will fit in well with the emphasis on politeness.


Communication Currents

The new issue of Communication Currents is out. This is a publication of the National Communication Association and is addressed to the general public--its subtitle is: Knowledge for Communicating Well.  Edited by Katherine Hawkins, the current issue contains articles on long distance relationships, small talk, communciation and success, and free speech. Take a look; I think you'll be pleased.



Here's a brief article that fits in very well with our discussions of apologies. This one is directed at making apologies to children--a topic we don't normally discuss in our textbooks--tho' the principles seem general enough for all apologies.

Love from Austin Powers

Here's a brief article on love and romance that might be an interesting way to introduce interpersonal relationships: 10 love lessons derived from the character/behavior of Austin Powers. 


Communication Strategies: Supportiveness

Continuing with my attempt to spell out the various communication strategies, here is a little item on supportiveness--taken from my Essentials of Human Communication which has the most complete discussion of Gibb's system.
     One of the best ways to look at destructive versus productive talk is to look at how the style of your communications can create unproductive defensiveness or a productive sense of supportiveness, a system developed by Jack Gibb in the 60’s. The type of talk that generally proves destructive and sets up defensive reactions in the listener is talk that is evaluative, controlling, strategic, indifferent or neutral, superior, and certain.