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A.J Diaz Prof.

Dunn Interpersonal Communication 11/17/10 Perceiving Others For this paper assignment I chose to explore how people perceive each other and how I could take the perspective of someone with whom I disagree. My goal was to successfully perceive the opinion of someone who disagreed with me on a topic that I found interesting. I started by researching perception from our class textbook and wrote a reflection regarding how I felt about the chapter. I chose my opponent and fully explained the disagreement I had with him regarding relational communication. I then wrote him a letter explaining my side of the argument. Afterwards, I put myself in his shoes and wrote a letter to myself as if I were my opponent in responding to the original letter I wrote to him. I then showed my opponent both letters and got his reaction to both the argument and to how I perceived his thoughts about the argument. After this I asked him if there were any corrections or additions that I should put in his response to my letter. I finished with my conclusive thoughts on the entire experiment and how it affected me, my opponent, and our relationship. The points that interested me the most in Chapter 4 were: snap decisions, confirmation bias, clinging to first impressions, and being influenced by our expectations. An individuals values and beliefs are based on these ideas and they form and shape their opinion about particular topics. For example, I catch myself using confirmation bias all the time when it comes to defending a belief that I hold and I find it

hard to look at the subject with a neutral stand point. What I still dont understand is how people are able to make accurate snap decisions that dont backfire. Like the psychologist that can predict the outcome of a couples marriage after hearing them talk for only 12 minutes (Adler, Rosenfeld, Proctor, 123). I hope I could do something like that in my field of study one day since it seems to be an invaluable skill to have. Being influenced by our expectations and first impressions are perception flaws that I find myself doing all the time. I wish if someone tells me that a professor is terrible that I go into the class without already hating it or if I meet someone for the first time and they say something they didnt mean to I could not judge them as being less of a person. In spite of this example, I believe myself to be really good at both perception checking and empathizing with others. I try not to jump to conclusions regarding someones actions without first clarifying their position with them. I also believe that I can put myself in someone elses shoes to better understand their thinking better than most other people. After reading about these terms and ideas I feel a lot more prepared to handle situations throughout life and this hopefully will positively impact my relationships with everyone in the future. The Disagreement My roommate and I disagree on the importance of relational communication as a field of study. He feels that the field of relational communication should be under either a psychology track or a philosophy track. He is an English/creative writing major with a minor in philosophy. He believes that most of the classes and concepts of the relational communication major are inaccurate, obvious, and over examined. I believe that the relational track in communications is very important for understanding the world that

surrounds us and how we act with one another. Though the terms and concepts might be based around day-to-day activities I dont believe relational communication to be less significant than concepts and theories that involve peoples beliefs and values like that of philosophy. I think if anything, the three fields of psychology, philosophy, and communication feed off each other and need one another to exist. I believe that studying relational communication is just as important as studying philosophy and psychology; this helps us understand the world around us. The Letter Dear Travis, Over the course of living with you this past year and observing your morals, values, beliefs, and personal concepts, I have found that you do not respect my major (relational communication). For awhile I have sat back and heard your arguments and have agreed with the points you have made about my field of study, but now I wish to argue for it rather than conform to your opinions. Ill start with the points I remember you making about the track of study. Please note that I will be paraphrasing as I cannot remember what you said verbatim. Here are the points that I remember you making: (1) relational communication is an easier version of both psychology and philosophy; (2) relational communication is only the study of how we interact with one another and therefore does not deserve to be respected like philosophy or psychology. While I do believe that both psychology and philosophy have a great deal to do with forming identity, relational communication also shapes and forms our identity in a different way than psychology and philosophy does.

You base your argument on the fact that relational communication is a weaker form of both psychology and philosophy. This I find to be half true. From my understanding, our identity and reasoning (why we act the way we do) comes from a lot of day-to-day actions that are guided by our minds. For instance, did you know how important the first impression is on your perception of another person? Studies show that roommates that have a good first impression of each other last longer as friends/roommates than those who have bad first impressions? College students who had positive initial impressions of each other were likely to have positive subsequent interactions, manage their conflicts constructively, and continue living together (Adler, Rosenfeld, Proctor, 125). This, to me, offers a deeper understanding of why people cannot live with others by raising questions such as: can two roommates who have a bad rapport learn to overcome their first impression and work out a better solution to their conflicts? I believe that it takes psychology, philosophy and relational communication to answer this and the thousands of other questions revolving around the first impression concept. Each field of study would have a different way of viewing the issue and solving the problem. A psychologist might look at the background and upbringing of the two individuals to see why they are in conflict and whether they have the motivation to change the situation. A philosopher might look at the ethics and morals these two people have with regard to friends, strangers, and how they choose to live. A relational communication theorist might look at how the two lived together in the past and how they communicated with one another when it came to chores, living arrangements, and other accommodations, and whether they were able to empathize with one another. These are all great approaches to help answer this question and

honestly I believe that all three are necessary to fully understand the problem and the world around us. I do have to agree with you on your second point in that relational communication is the study of how people interact, but I think you view this concept too lightly. This is not just romantic relationships or boss-to-employee relationships, but relationships with everyone you encounter and every aspect of how you and the world interact. This to me is significant because it can help us understand how people act in particular situations and more importantly how we should act in those situations. For example, lets suppose you overhear your girlfriend (Arianna) telling a story to one of her close friends. The story is about how she recently went to the doctor for a surgery that she really wanted to have done. Lets say, for arguments sake, she wanted to fix her chin. She choose to go to a close personal doctor with who you have both a good rapport with and a long history. You overhear Arianna say I went into the office and the first encounter I had was with the rude receptionist. She gave me really dirty looks and everything she said to me had kind of a nasty undertone. I filled out like 25 minutes of paper work in a really cramped waiting room and after I finished I still wound up waiting an additional 20 minutes until I was even called into the doctors waiting room. Once I went in there the nurse made me undress and I had to wait for another 20 minutes before the doctor came in. He came in and the first thing he did was give me this look of frustration. Either his bedside manners were really terrible or he just didnt seem to like me at all. He drew on my face and told me what needed to be done for the surgery. When I asked him how much the whole surgery should be he said roughly around 5,000 dollars which neither me nor Travis has at the moment, so I am just going to forget about it. After

overhearing this you want to comfort Arianna and show her that you are a supporting and loving boyfriend. How do you do it? Most men would offer to find a way to pay for the surgery that she wanted so badly and to advise her that the particular doctor she went to was just a bad experience and really he is a nice guy once you get to know him. This seems harmless and in fact helpful for the initial problem, however this kind of response is not the kind of support that most women would want in this situation. She was looking for an empathetic response to her experience rather than an answer or a solution. In addition, by dismissing her emotions and offering to pay for the surgery you could upset her even more. This could even make her mad and instigate a fight since you want the surgery more than her. Granted these are all based on the individual, however decoding this story in terms of emotional support may not be easy for men to understand and apply. This kind of information I believe is applicable for nearly anyone who is in a relationship and can best be taught by relational communication. Relational communication may not have as long of a history as psychology or philosophy but, like both these fields, it aims to understand peoples actions, beliefs and thoughts that revolve around how we interact with one another. I can respect the history of psychology and philosophy, but I place more importance on the impact a field has on society and individuals. Psychology deepens our understanding of the human mind and why people do what they do in general and has helped millions throughout history. Philosophy has redefined our perceptions of our existence and offers multiple answers to the age old question of why we are here. I believe relational communication can help people understand the reasoning behind why people say and do things that they do in

the context of relationships that psychology and philosophy dont cover. I believe it will attain that respect one day. All it needs to do is prove that it is worthy as a field of study.

With much love and respect -AJ P.S. I hope I didnt offend with the Arianna surgery thing I was just using it as an example. I think she is perfect the way she is. The Response Dear AJ I appreciate and acknowledge your argument of how relational communication is important as a field of study; however I believe that you are viewing some ideas and concepts about my argument toward relational communication as disrespectful and dismissive. I never said I thought relational communication was a joke, but rather it is a disguise for psychology and I think you should be studying psychology because you seem to like the concepts and ideas behind the psychological ideas in relational communication. I think that relational communication covers obvious topics that are stupidly worded and use terms from philosophy and psychology that have been tweaked to fit their field. I think that all the important concepts and ideas in relational communication are covered in psychology and philosophy and it would be more fitting for them to be in that field rather than redefined in a different field. Many of the terms in your communication theory book are exact terms and words that philosophy uses, such as semiotics. I think that if people want to study relationships and how they form and

how they operate then that is fine, but to borrow terms for some of the concepts and to examine how two roommates interact with one another falls under both psychology and philosophy and should not be called relational communication. As for the Arianna story, I might have chosen to support her in a way that made her upset, but I know that I can talk to her and smooth things over since I already have such a good relationship with her. I dont need to know why she is mad at me since I know I can work things out with her and if we do, for whatever reason, have trouble Ill go to a psychologist where we will work out our differences. I dont think the field is worthless, I think it is a rip-off of psychology. Sincerely Travis Mullis Conclusion This experiment was effective to some degree, but I did not get the kind of response I wanted from my opponent. My roommate did read through my letter to him thoroughly and thoughtfully, but at the end he did not change his stance at all regarding his thoughts on relational communication. What made this experiment so successful was he said my response that you wrote is perfect; I would have said the exact same thing. This shows me that my perception of his opinion on the matter is spot on and, in essence, proves my point on the importance of relational communication. I am able to see my roommates points about psychology and philosophy being old and respectful fields and that communications does not yet have their status. I still believe that the communication field is worth studying and offers a new world of understanding. I still respect my roommates views since they are well founded, however his stubborn and

elitist attitude is not a attitude that I want to incorporate for myself. Perceiving others is essential for understanding people, their beliefs, and the stances that they have. I believe my roommate should incorporate these concepts. Empathy is a sense that most people lack and I believe if he were to show more empathy toward me he would realize that his views on relational communication are offensive to me since I, not only am majoring in the subject, but enjoy the field of study. I know he does not wish to invoke those kinds of emotional responses from me since we close friends, but I do not think he realizes the impact of what he says to those who are close to him. I think if he were to learn to empathize with people better then he could avoid hurting his close friends as I have seen him do in the past.

Work Cited

Adler, Ronald B., Lawrence B. Rosenfeld, and Russell F. Proctor. Interplay: the Process of Interpersonal Communication. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Print. 123-125