The Sum of All Parts

August 19, 2008

Hanh’s Interbeing really talks about the cause and effects of life, which includes our interactions. We are constantly causing certain things to happen, and people are always being affected by our words and actions. We are in a bubble of conversation where ideas are bouncing off of each other left and right. When ideas continue in motion, many amazing things can be accomplished. This is where promoting dialogue comes in. As communicators, we need to learn to be honest with one another through fierce conversation in order for us to grow in some way. Things can only get better through dialogue, they might have to get worse first, but they will get better. I really agree with Hanh in that things are constantly changing from moment to moment.

In the “The Communication Panacea,” Neil Postman explains the reasons why, “authentic communication is a double edged sword.” I find myself disagreeing with Neil Postman in certain ways, but I understand and agree with some of the points he is making. Postman writes, “With dialogue comes a lot of issues. Things can get ugly when people are being completely honest with one another. It’s true that with language we can do a lot of damage, and at certain moments in life, you don’t have to lie, but it helps if you’re not completely honest. Conversation can be a gift and a curse. Words can bring people closer together and they can also pull us apart. For me, it all comes back to respect, as it has in many of my posts. If people can think of the other person when they make statements and be understanding of difference, great things can happen. Unfortunately, not everyone is so respectful of others; in fact some people are flat out racist. In this case, racist people coming together to converse with others might not be such a great idea. In that case, concealing inner feeling s might be a good thing. But ultimately, it would be nice for everyone to be able to have a respectful honest and open dialogue that would help us all better ourselves. I know that it’s happened in groups of people, but it would be nice if the human race could do such a thing. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish. A point made in President Makalele’s critique was that, “We want to be part of the conversation, but we also tend to want our interpretation to be the focal point, or at least carry as much weight as any other’s.” It’s hard to get everyone on the same page without us competing for attention. The point is that sometimes dialogue can hurt a unit; I just don’t feel that it’s a good idea to give up all hope for it. For good open conversation to occur, you almost have to be selfless, but to remain with your positive state of mind.

Sometimes we don’t realize the weight that our words hold. When we are thinking selfishly it can have its effects on the growth of the unit. As Americans, we can often find ourselves comfortable in competition, but we have t also remember that we can’t live up to our potential unless we learn to communicate better. This is the only way we can learn to live together, it’s still to be seen whether that can happen, but it’s important to do what you can in your own community or crowd of people.

I find myself struggling sometimes whether to be a completely honest person or not. Sometimes it’s easier not to tell people what you think about their work. But I have to admit, every time I did get into heavy discussion, I always learned a lot. Sometimes in order to learn you have to be uncomfortable, and to put yourself out there on the line.

Group Support

August 17, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of Scott in our Critiques

August 13, 2008

Scott made a statement in his “Fierce Writing” article about how real and truly iportant interpersonal communication only happens when people are being completely honest and are standing firm in their beliefs no matter who they are communicatinbg with. I found ways to relate the other articles and the student critiques to this general idea:

In one summary and critique a student highlights a point that Barrett makes from the article, Maintaining the Self, “We can never be sure of ourselves, especially of other’s attitudes towards us or our capability to relate to that.”” This quote that he picked to show has something to do with Scott’s ideas about why people don’t engager in fierce conversation. People are constantly trying to appear as though they are with it, and are willing to agree with the trend as long as they aren’t looking out of place. People aren’t usually prone to want to argue with strangers (most lol). This means own insecurities play a big role in us choosing not to engage in fierce conversation. Another summary and critique by a student, summarizes the Barrett article as giving this message, “He explains that when we are constantly influencing our audiences during communication to view us in a positive light.” If this is true, then most of the time people are engaging in comfortable conversation. As long as nothing contravecial comes up, we can still think of each other as good people, or as likable people. Barrett would describe this lack of fierce conversation as a defense mechanism to continue good relationships with colleagues or people that you aren’t very close to, in a sense to keep an even keel.

In another students analysis on another article by Stewart on nexting the students writes, “I also like the idea of “nexting” where this is always the possibility for the next thing in a conversation to come up that will make things more interesting or an attempt to get a response that is favorable.” In this student’s honest response he admits that part of the reason that people practice nexting is to receive a response that is favorable. This is true of most small talk chats that you have with people throughout the day. Usually you try to come up with something interesting to say, and if you can’t think of anything, then say something that will get a positive reaction. Sort of an “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine, “ kind of deal. The student then goes on to say; “When we ask questions we are trying to get more information not always because the information is very valuable, we want to sound interested in what is being told to us.” This is very true of a lot of people. They ask questions not so that they can effectively initiate fierce conversation, but to act interested in the other person in the hopes that it will be a mutual sense of niceness. Scott would say that this takes away from conversation that actually helps us and teaches us to stretch our knowledge of the world. He would say that you should always appear how you feel and not to sugarcoat things because it won’t be “true” dialogue.

Another student highlighted a point that made me think that Barrett and Scott both fall under this same sort of view on communication. The student writes, “If we use the sliding scale of communication quality presented by Stewart, the types of communication taking place in the U.S. corporate office would be social and cultural communication and limited in interpersonal communication.” I believe that Scott would totally agree with this, and Scott might say that the company would have more success as a unit of growth if it were to become more interpersonal by being less strict and calculated.

So Far So Respectful!

August 10, 2008

When going back and fourth in a dialogue there are certain tensions that are felt. It’s a push pull thing where at time you are in control of the flow and other moments where your going along for the ride. We are constantly negotiating between ourselves when in dialog as to what is acceptable and where things are going. This dynamic and constant bouncing of ideas is often filed with tension. But with our team, it seems that there is much less tension than the usual interaction. I think that people still feel a little detached, and so there are no emotions running wild. I think that we are all very respectful of each other and haven’t really been challenging each other the way I thought we would.  It’s often true tha t people are nicer to complete strangers than they are to their own family! I don’t think that we have quite become family yet lol.

An example of this is how understanding everyone has been thus far. In a blog <a href=“http://ohnothecakeisalie.wordpress.com/”>ohnothecakeisalie</a> wrote this about a fellow group members difficulties with the technological aspect of things, “Grant2u was having some troubles finding everything and seemed a little flustered with the whole online chat process, which is by all means understandable when it’s your first time experiencing it!” This was a very nice way to say it, and was a thoughtfully put together sentence which was carefully crafted. She is being very considerate about our difficulties as to not hurt anyones feelings.

Another way that people have been respectful and nice in the process is by complimenting each other in what we or the individual has contributed. This has taken two forms, one is by citing what they liked about the other’s blog or writing and the other is by discussing a time or situation when somebody was very helpful in getting things going. Sometimes it will be a compliment for the entire cast, like in <a href=”http://ooloveshoo.wordpress.com/”>ooloveshoo ‘s </a> blog, she wrote, “For my group, I believe each member has all of these emotional intelligence defined by Goleman.” She then followed up with explanation for why each of us hold these traits. We are ertainly flattering each other, and this brings a pleasant vibe to the interactions that come out of such enthusiastic appreciation.

I am not completely sure that because of this we have been able to argue because we are in a sense afraid of being considered the troubled or bad mannered one in the group. In a sense, we are afraid of being outcast by giving a bold opinion. Sometimes you can’t speak your mind without getting on somebody’s nerves. I am curious to see how long this behavior lasts, and I think it could be there for the remainder of the group projects. It’s a nice thing to have a group that is able to compliment each other,  but lets not be afraid to argue our points too! Remember, fierce conversing can be a good thing too.

Group Stuff

August 4, 2008

Well, I have finally gotten things somewhat under control with this assignment! I just wanted to let you all (in my group) know that I am sorry for not being present for the chat that took place earlier tonight. My schedule as of late has been really hectic, leaving me very little patience or brainpower by the time I get to writing. I am sorry for not being a part of our initial conversing.

After reading your last responses, I can understand why Stephanie made our group with these elements (people). I really liked to hear that Grant2U felt the same way that I do, <a href= http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/nexting-and-being-nexted-what-we-exhale-becomes-us/&gt; “This will require us to be in an atmosphere wherein we feel safe, listened to, and respected.”</a> I feel that respect is the cornerstone to any good relationship, and we will need to think of other’s feelings when we interact. We have to be open to the fact that we aren’t going to always agree with everything that is said, and that we can respect those opinions, and deal with them in a respectful manner.

I also thought that it was important to highlight something that was said by ooshoo, <a href= http://aplaceinspace.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/nexting-and-being-nexted-what-we-exhale-becomes-us/&gt; “We need to limit this assertive behavior based on consideration of cultural differences.”</a> This is very important because some of us need to read everything that we write over once more just to make sure that it doesn’t go hard at a person’s beliefs and background. We have all had very different experiences on this earth. We should celebrate these differences and share in appreciation, our similarieties, and the things that bring us together as human beings. Before you make a bold statement, tink about how the person on every level of the matter would react, and edit how you choose to approach things so that it doesn’t come from a disrespectful place.

I think that one should always be able to find things that bind us as humans and I agree with grant2u and singer12 that we should be group based on commonalities, but I find it a very difficult task to group people. As far as I’m concerned, I still have trouble sometimes deciding who I have the most in common with in my life and I’ve hung out with these people for years! I guess you don’t know until the conversation starts flowing, and even then you’re not sure.

I am glad to hear that ohnothecakeisalie is technologically saavy. I certainly don’t have that in common with you, my friend! It’s good that you will be comfortable dealing in interaction online, because it will probably help others get used to it, as well as for things to flow more smoothly. It’s a good thing also that you enjoy interacting with people that are very different from yourself. This will be a good experience for you, and you already strike me as the problem solver of the group lol.

Hopefully this all goes as planned!!!!

Fierceness

July 24, 2008

Susan Scott is right on the ball with most of what she said in “fierce conversations.” As she expresses, people can often find themselves playing the safe role, because there is a need of acceptance from the world. This is not a great thing because there is no mind expansion. In order for us to be real about topics we have to be honest with the listener. Shying away from opposition never helped anybody, the goal shouldn’t always be to have everyone walk away happy, that’s not how the world works. When delving into tough topics, sometimes things can get deep and emotions can run wild. It’s important to hold your ground, and be fierce with people, but I also believe that this can be done in a controlled way. It’s like my old football coach used to say, be agressive but also be under control. When you become reckless in your approach it can leave holes in the bind that one is attempting to create. It’s true what she says that without aggresive belief, nothing is gained, and the relationship ceases to exist. It all has to be grounded in respect. If you appreciate other’s opinions, whatever they say can’t hurt because your will is strong and concise. Control can be coupled with fierce thought that allows for growth.

I got a lot of the same things out of the reading of “Fierce Conversation by Susan Scott that my fellow students did. I have some serious flaws in the way I choose to go about things. Sometimes I choose to agree blindly and not to get into with others. Other times I am too aggressive in that I don’t allow the other person a chance to explain their side. When I make the conversation a battle, nobody wins in the end; we are just involved in a shouting match. I agree with a lot of what Scott has to say about standing strong and remaining fierce, but it isn’t always that easy to remain in a balance where I am both listening and expressing. This imbalance leads to the closing off of the mind at times.

It’s important not to be afraid of expressing yourself and how other’s thoughts make you feel. Without open dialogue, we can’t tackle the true essence of who we are, and we can’t be real with others. I find that when I go to work, I try to keep things on an even keel. I don’t want to upset the people that I will be interacting with on a semi-permanent basis. A harsh conversation with a fellow worker can lead to alienation. I find that sometimes the work place isn’t the best place to be bold. But I pick and choose my places to extend my opinion outward. Like I said before, it must be done in a firm way, but also in a way that nobody ends up getting hurt by it. Like Sherif said, it can be like playing with fire. The intent needs to be soft but firm in order for it to come across in a non-threatening way.

Oftentimes I say exactly how I feel right off the bat. This can make people uncomfotable or can turn them off from wanting to go further into a conversation. I have very strong opinions, which is a good thing. The bad part is that there is sometimes very little control and balance. When you attack somebody’s beliefs it tends to make everyone very defensive. I have tried to make efforts and I strive to be a more relaxed converser, although ut can sometimes be hard. I have tried to open my eyes to the fact that not all interaction has to be argumentative. The goal of discussion is to learn and to see things from different perspectives, not to win the battle. In order for this to work, you main aim should be respect. Without that, nothing will be learned and the goal will be out of reach. It can sometimes be very difficult but you can be fierce in your opinions and t the same time, embrace the differences. What fun would conversation be if we alwasy saw things eye to eye.

How do you write “excite”?

July 16, 2008

One thing that I have been learning over the past 6 months is how to write a movie script. Over the spring semester that I spent studying at Umass, I began to learn how to write screenplays by taking the introductory course. My advisor, Marty Norden, taught the class I took. Over the semester, we learned the important format that most Hollywood movies use and how timing and emphasis is harnessed in order to create power. We read aloud scripts of movies that have been made, just to understand further. We then were told to go off on our own and begin to write our own scripts.

The most challenging part about the class by far was when we read our scripts aloud in class. On your day, other students would be selected to read different arts as you read the actions and narrations.  It was really a learning experience for me. Things that you think are great ideas, you come to find, don’t get the reception that you intended.  Also, having someone else read a part without any more than just being handed your script seconds before you begin to read it doesn’t always help it to fuse well. Often times it takes a particular person with a particular voice and attitude to read the part the way you would have wanted.

For the final of the class, we had to write half of a full screenplay. After a while of writing and re-writing, I began to become engulfed in pleasure and excitement. It became very fun and amusing for me to create a whole world with my imagination and to really explore and create deeper characters. The actual learning of the format and style wasn’t the fun part, but once I understood the rules, it became a game that I liked playing, and have continued to work at.

Hello world!

July 16, 2008

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