Introduces non-majors to a variety of competing theories of interpersonal behavior and everyday social interaction and provides them with new ways of thinking about the social situations in which they participate and interact (and observe others doing so). Theoretical frameworks may include cultural discourse theory, models of relational communication, coordinated management of meaning, identity management, and the ethnography of speaking.
~ from the Online Course Catalog, Continuing Education, UMass Amherst

This iteration of the subject is briefly introduced in the teacher’s “User Page” of the UMassWiki. Students will need to know or be prepared to learn how to use three different (online) interpersonal communication technologies in order to succeed in this course (Blackboard, WordPress weblogs, wikis). Cultivating the mindset of being in another culture or of learning another language is highly recommended. Fluent literacy in English (especially reading comprehension and consciousness of diction) is helpful but not required; however, you will discover that the more thoughtful and deliberate you are with reading-for-intended-meaning and writing-to-be-clear then the more you will learn about interpersonal communication.

Teacher’s blogposts:

Day 1: Interpersonal what?! [“Lecture” 1]
Introductory post: surfing! [a bit about the teacher]
Post-Listening/Pre-Nexting: Why care about listening? [“Lecture” 2]
Exhaling to Next: “Nexting” and being nexted: what we exhale becomes us [“Lecture” 3]
Nexting to Team Projects: continuing to converse [“Lecture” 4]

Teams: “a frenzy of nexting” (on conspiracy and structure) [“Lecture” 5]

Presentations Loom! “conversing toward team projects” [“Lecture” 6]

Culmination [“Lecture” 7]

competing theories of IPC [“Lecture” 8]

6 Responses to “Interpersonal Communication (Summer 2008 – COM)”

  1. delivermesummer Says:

    Ooloveshoo,
    Good point – I hope it did boost the patient’s confidence. I’m glad that you’ve experienced the delivery room (and I hope things went well!). There’s something very genuine and precious about labor and delivery. I’ve been working on the L & D unit for just over two weeks now, and it’s been a blast. Initially, every birth brought tears to my eyes. Just today, though, I was running around the delivery room trying to help the nurse. The fetal heart rate was low, the mom had a blood clotting condition, and the baby was having a hard time fitting through the birth canal. With each passing minute, I held my breath hoping that the fetal heart rate would recover (in between pushes) – and getting ready to run for the vacuum extractor if necessary. The baby eventually emerged unscathed (thank goodness), but it was really stressful! I still smile with every birth, but I can’t help to think that I’ve become somewhat sensitized to the miracle. I guess it comes with the territory – and is like any other little moment in life – to enjoy it, you really have to pause and remind yourself what a special event it is. How old is your son/daughter now?

    And how do you find time to study Japanese, take this class, be an EMT, and enjoy summer?! I’m impressed.

  2. commsyr09 Says:

    The first few chapters of John’s book “Look Me in the Eye” were not only very interesting but also extremely thought provoking and insightful. I really enjoyed peering through the eyes of someone whose interpersonal communication skills differ from those we find to be “socially acceptable.” However, as Jaggerbunny explained – just because they are “different” does not mean they are wrong. In the snake shooting incident, the logic of how to handle the situation was not the lacking element – instead it was evaluating the outcome of what others may think. In a way, John has it easier than those who are socially trained into acting and communicating “properly.” John does know what is right and wrong – he knows he wants to make friends with a girl and he knows the right way to play with a truck. What he does not know is how to communicate it. Instead of ruminating of the possible socially acceptable ways to go about handling a situation, he comes up with his best possible solution and continues on to carry it out.

    In Robinson’s chapter on empathy he describes how we are taught to experience empathy – a key part of interpersonal communcation, with others. When a natural disaster occurs across the globe and lives are lost we are expected to express sadness, when someone we know gets married we are suppose to express happiness. However, how much of these emotions are REAL? I personally am very empathetic but I am always extremely bothered when others pretend to exude emotions they do not feel. I think one of John’s most admirable qualities is his ability to be himself and be real. Although this could produce both positive and negative outcomes in communication – he doesn’t care what others think. However, when ShinyGinger quoted Elizabeth’s post of UD 4.3 she explained that although Robinson’s action as a child were labeled as wrong and seen as disparate from those of other children, causing him to be ostracized, he took each interaction as a learning experience.

    Another element that delivermesummer touches upon, is that over interpersonal communication. Although John’s interpretation skills were compromised he was also uncomfortable in the non-verbal realm. As communication “scholars,” it is clear just how important the ability to communicate non-verbally is, without the ability to look someone in the eye or know the acceptable way to approach a potential friend, John was seen as even more “different.”

    In Steph’s post Audience: To Imagine or Ignore. She addresses just these issues. Should we acknowledge the presense of an audience or act as ourselves? As John mentioned in a few posts above – there is a right and wrong way to communicate and based on his experiences the correct way is NOT to ignore. After reading the chapter, lectures, and postings, my own interpretation is that as communicators we are responsible for listening (actively, aka not just hearing), absorbing or “inhaling” the information, anticipating what sort of route we should take in our response and simultaneously judging the situation (comfort level, situation, cultural norms, etc), nexting to find out more, and finally exhaling our own opinions, thoughts, feelings, etc. What IS the right way to do all of this though? I know John said there is a right way, but what determines this?

    I studied cross-cultural communications last year and studiers of this area of communications would avidly argue that there is NO right way. For instance, she explained as a case study she observed an American businessman attempting to make a deal with an Asian businessman, neither one was briefed on cultural variants prior to their engagement. To make a long story short, the Asian businessman felt extremely uncomfortable because the American businessman was suffocating him (in terms of space), and thus left feeling awkward and chose against doing a deal with him. Little did the American businessman know, in Asian culture – space (proximity to the other person) is valued and coming too close exhibits uncalled for aggressiveness. However, in our culture we would view that as cold. So, which is right, which is wrong?

    As far as our group projects – I am sure Steph chose members that are all different to see how we would interact with one another (sort of like a Real-World experiment? ☺). After reading John’s experiences and of course using what we have learned thus far, I will probably be less likely to jump to conclusions on how someone is or is not “something” (if that makes sense). Basically, I understand there are different ways of communicating and “doing emotion” and thus if I personally misunderstand I will “next” in order to fully understand and grasp what the other person is communicating. After all, in my opinion – there is no right and wrong way to communicate, even for people that come from the same household, let alone the same culture, ethnicity, religion, so on and so forth.


  3. […] Interpersonal Communication (Summer 2008 – COM) […]

  4. ooloveshoo Says:

    The class will be similar to what the professor has described on her homepage. She mentions about using three different interpersonal communication technologies (Blackboard, WordPress, Wiki). The students as a class will spend most of the time on blackboard for their homework or discussion; they will use wordpress, and wiki for finding resources, or communicating with the others personally.

    The professor has divided the class into eight lectures, but the topics for each lecture are all interrelated. Therefore, it is important to have a good understanding of every interpersonal communication skills that will be taught in this class. Like how the professor has mentioned, “reading for intended meaning” and “writing to be clear” is very important in this class since it is an online course where you can only communicate with the others by reading and writing. Therefore, reading carefully and writing clearly are important issues in this class in order to build strong relationships with the other classmates.

    There are two comments on the professor’s homepage of this course: one from delivermesummer and the other from commsyr09. How these two people have responded can give some ideas to people about what this class will be like. First, the way delivermesummer has responded is related with several interpersonal communication skills: nexting, listening, and exhaling. Delievermesummer had to write this response after reading another classmates’ response to her blog post. She begins with sentences that show how she had listened to ooloveshoo before creating her reponse. Then, she is “nexting” the conversation by giving detailed explanation about her summer job to share with ooloveshoo. Lastly, she ends up with exhaling her thoughts by asking question to ooloveshoo. I, ooloveshoo, did not clearly write when I left comment to delivermesummer. Therefore, she ends up asking questions that I did not expected to be asked. This shows how much it is important to write clearly to the others; also, explains how a person will use inhaling/exhaling skills to nexting the conversation further based on what they have learn from listening.

    The other response has similar structures to delivermesummr’s response. She had to write this response after reading a book “Look me in the eye”. She first started out by exhaling her thoughts or feeling from what she had inhaled from listening to the author of this book. Also, she is nexting her points regarding on this book by quoting the other classmates or giving examples.

    If you are planning to take this class, you will be surprised to realize how much you had been using many different communication skills without knowing consciously. Also, you will have a chance to learn the importance of each interpersonal communication skill and how to use them in real conversation. At the end of class, there are bigger chances for you to have some time to determine yourself as a communicator; and I believe this class will provide you with great opportunities to develop yourself as a better communicator.


  5. […] my choices, or otherwise try to articulate how I perceive things going together? I am also prepping to teach, and I never (ever!) stop learning. Even though I’ll probably never capture the tone of our […]

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