Back in the unit on “exhaling” (1/2 of a breathing metaphor for interpersonal communication), we began to talk about ideas for the Team Projects. As I wrote individual feedback to each of you, a process of negotiation began – a dialogue, if you will – about how to craft the criteria for this project in ways that make the expectations clear and the content suitable to the course objectives.

Here is one of my first explanations of the project: “If you/your Team can select a topic and trace its development across many examples and instances you might be able to show how one thing leads to the next. For instance, if you took “assertiveness” and found examples and analyzed each example for evidence of “listening, nexting, and consequentiality,” in the end you might be able to say something about longer-term effects (of repetition, or context, or accumulation, or who knows what but something that makes sense in the context of interpersonal relating).”

The examples are to come from our course and the public archives of the Group Dynamics course that I taught last spring. The evidence are the actual words, phrases, turns and developments in conversation that justify the example. The relational connections are what makes the subject matter real. Outerbodyboi wrote something that resonated with my vision for this Team Project:

“. . . we are communicating about communicating too much. People seem to be at a stand still, and are just continually repeating ourselves over and over again. I first felt that I was learning a lot, now I am not so sure. It’s not very fun to listen about listening or communicating about communicating. I think we should start discussing real issues, then analyze how we went about the communication flow, and what we could have done better. I feel that the discussions are almost becoming too abstract and without substance.”

Now that you have seen the Group Dynamics course archive, and you’ve been through most of a semester with me, you realize that what you leave behind (your accumulated “exhales” for this course) are a resource for the future. (As you may recall, you can delete your WordPress weblog after the course is done, although I – quite selfishly, I admit! – hope that you will not. Even more ambitiously, I hope you might return! “Fat chance of that,” do I sense a grumble…?) 😉 The point is, your communication has an existence: in cyberspace the evidence can be obscured, but the consequentiality persists.

Jumping ahead a few units to the initial data collection from the Group Dynamics course, several of you generated some excellent models. Ninjacook invites us to take a little journey down the path of anticipation. She takes us through a series of entries, starting with what I wrote about different kinds of anticipation, to King’s House, who mused, “…you can say what you feel and what you want to achieve, but that is not the same as communicating it.” Ninjacook loops back then, to something else I said about the link between anticipation and consequentiality, before moving on to AP1115’s comment that going through stuff together is part of what generates relational bonds. Finally, Ninjacook’s trip down consequentiality lane ends with a corroborating statement from ontherecliner. The path involves five people (three people cited once, one person returned to twice, and the author) who are saying something that – taken in isolation, by which I mean, read separately later, by someone not involved in the conversation – can be shown to have some interpersonal communication principles in common. Here’s what I wrote back to Ninjacook:

“If you can trace some kind of turn-taking or exchange among several people over a period of time that illustrates the theme – THAT is the ultimate goal!”

Does that make sense? If the team that includes Ninjacook decided to study the anticipation-consequentiality dynamic, for instance, the ideal would be to identify four or five people and track their actual dialogue over time, pulling out the quotes that show evidence of (in this case) anticipation in the exhale and evidence of (in this case) consequentiality in the inhale. Then, do this two to three times with our class material, and two to three times with material from the Group Dynamics course. In other words, a total of 4-6 examples, 2-3 each from our course and the Group Dynamics course, with each example as developed as possible from the beginning to the end of the whole conversation/interaction. (This is not the whole Project, but we are becoming increasingly clear on its core substance, yes?)

I gave similar feedback to President Makalele (on a variety of ways to approach self-disclosure), emphasizing that “the evidence and example has to come from people “exhales”. Meaning, don’t just find a bunch of random instances of a particular phenomena – we’re actually after the structure of our interpersonal communication. Jaggerbunny picks on me (!) and my expression of emotion; I replied with a nudge for elaboration. “Another way to think about this might be, what “nexts” follow from mine (in that particular case, and you’ll have to find others).” JimiGarcia actually wrote this exact prescription:

” . . . use the ideas of listening incorporated with how we have progressively been responding to each other . . . If we study through each response made to each other how we have learned to “listen” to each other and use the other terms learned from class to complete our midterm I think we will find success.”

Gym goes deeper into the flow of our communication, as OuterBodyBoi suggested, in terms of self-analyzing her journey along the path of open-mindedness. This allowed me to explain

“. . . how I am using your specific words to show a kind of logic… That logic is what you are to make plain with the team project. One of the beautiful things you’ve done is make a personal reference: you could go back (as an example rife with evidence for the presentation) to the exact quotes you made before and show the evolution in your responses as you have changed during the course of our “confusing” continual complex interpersonal communication process . . . does that make sense? Do you see what I’m getting at?”

Now, I would add that the influences inhaled would need to be part of the chain: you need to lay out all sides of the interaction.

I mentioned, above, that the potential legacy of your work here is not only as a learner, but also as a teacher and a reference for others. OuterBodyBoi found the informed consent process in last semester’s Group Dynamics course – I would like to ask the same of all of you, too. Would you let me try to publish something about the teaching and learning that has been accomplished in this class? (Oh, and I have a note here – for Outer Body Boi and your team, if you’re interested, and vice-versa – that Deliver Me Summer wrote along the lines of time and the development of relationships.)

Finally, I was excited to discover that Spicey Noodle Soup located my colleague’s exceptional explanation of How Words Create Reality. It is a different assignment than our Team Projects, but the notion of “unpacking a simple word” is a related activity. The description explains the process of making a piece or part of lived experience (something normal and taken-for-granted) appear strange or problematic. You might relate this specifically to some of the comments I have made about diction.  The process of deconstruction is similar to the analysis and critique that is required for our Team Projects.

For your replies, please double-check the assignment criteria in the course website. I’ll be looking for questions and insights about what we’re trying to accomplish, and also your advice as to what reading assignments to use for the individual FINAL (which will be done after the Team Project).  Please look in Part IV of our text and make an argument as to which section (not which particular author or article selection) but which entire Chapter, seems to you (today) most indicated as the best reading for us to end with: “Recognizing Communication Walls,” “Managing Conflict by Turning Walls into Bridges,” “Bridging Cultural Differences,” or more from “Promoting Dialogue”?  Give your reasons and include at least one quote from that chapter’s 1-2 page introduction!