Category Archives: Communication

Adjourning: Is It Really Important?

This week, we began to explore the different stages that a team progress through as they work together. These five stages are as follows:


While each stage is important, let’s take a few minutes (or perhaps several) to explore the final stage of adjourning. During this stage, groups are able to wrap up their projects and “reflect on their accomplishments and failures” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 257). It is also during this time that teams are able to celebrate their accomplishments and have “the opportunity to say good-bye to each other and wish each other luck as they pursue their next endeavor” (Abudi, 2011, p. 3). Have you ever experienced this stage when working within a group? How did performance standards and norms affect these groups? I know that I have been in numerous group situations over the years that ranged in performance and expectation levels, which did impact how well that specific group approached that adjourning stage. Here are just a few examples …

That Time I Worked With …

Alright, so I currently work with middle school students in a multiple disabilities support. During this past school year, the team that I worked with was dynamic! We worked so well together that we often did not even need to verbally talk about what to do next. We picked up on each other’s jokes and puns, while effectively working together. When we have to take care of the physical needs of the students, we willingly all pitched in to help, and our flow was so smooth that we surprised ourselves sometimes. We easily reached that performing stage, where we had “gotten to know each other, trust each other and rely on each other” (Abudi, 2011, p. 2). Our excellent team work was not only evident in our relationships, but our students made fantastic strides over the year.

Now, compare that to the next working situation when I was a teacher working with two paraprofessionals. From the start, it was obvious that we didn’t work that well together. I had to repeatedly give instructions and constantly keep them on track. There would be days when one or both paraprofessionals would come strolling in 15-20 minutes late, after I had gotten the students off the bus. When I approached the team about their performance, one of them came back at me with an attitude that effected how well he worked that day. This team struggled to pull together and assist the students. Our low-performance team did manage to make it through the adjourning stage that simply consisted of a “good-bye,” and we all parted ways.

That Time I Lived With …

During my college years, I experienced two (nearly opposite) living situations. For about 3 years, I lived with one other gal who literally was like my other half. Her weaknesses balanced out my strengths, and vice versa. We had the same sleeping patterns and similar class schedules. There were countless times that we enjoyed meals out, shopping together, and even vacations together. We complimented and completed each. We essentially became family.  To this day, years later after completing my degree, we still maintain contact and visit each other frequently. Although there were only two of us, it was apparent that as a team, we were effective!

My last semester of college (my previous roommate graduated earlier than I did), I was roomed with a few ladies that were more acquaintances than friends. Sure, we were nice to each other and respected each other’s space, but it was a much different group experience that my past three years. I did not do much with these ladies, and I preferred to keep to myself. Our schedules were complete opposites to the point that we didn’t get to see much of each other. Although we were a group living in the same environment, we never really worked together towards a common goal. Rather we held on to our own individual’s interests and goals.

High-Performance & Established Norms

As groups proceed through the different stages of group development, their effectiveness relies heavily on their performance levels and establishment of norms. For groups with a low performance and/or poorly established norms, it may be difficult to reach the performing stage, where “teams are functioning at a very high level” (Abudi, 2011, p. 2). In addition, low performance and poorly established norms may make the adjourning stage not as meaningful. Group members may be excited to leave the group, rather than embrace the time to remember memories and say good-bye.

On the other hand, groups with those high-performance levels and well-established norms should be able to reach a high level of effectiveness and work efficiency. Reaching that performing stage can be an easy task to accomplish, as everyone will be able to “combine their skills and knowledge to work toward the group’s goals and overcome hurdles” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 257). Upon the adjourning stage, it may be difficult to say good-bye. After working together as one entity, it may be an emotional task to say good-bye from a group that has been near and dear to your heart. These high-performance, established norms groups may also agree to maintain contact to continue their relationships (Abudi, 2011).

Consider these performance standards and established norms in relation to the examples I gave. When working with the group during the school year, we upheld clearly established norms, which provided a sense of consistency for everyone (including the students). We also were all committed to a high-performance, helping each other along the way. At the end of the school year, it was hard to say good-bye and part our separate ways. We had made so many memories together, that it was hard to let go of that dynamic group. The same goes for my college roommate of three years. Our parting was bittersweet. We both knew that we were off to achieve our life ambitions, but so much of who we were stemmed from our relationship (or very small group). In both these examples, high performance and clearly established norms contributed to a meaningful adjourning stage that lead to a promise of maintaining contact even after our group experience ended.

In contrast, when working with the two paraprofessionals and living with the small group of ladies, it was apparent that both groups had low-performance expectancy without clearly defined norms. This lead to ineffective team work, as well as an abrupt and brief adjourning stage. I do not keep in contact with either group, as I did not feel a need to continue relationships. Looking through these scenarios, I was able to identify that those groups with high-performance levels and clearly established norms have the hardest time saying good-bye and parting ways.

It’s Time To Say Good-Bye …

Part of the adjourning stage involves coming to an end and saying good-bye (Abudi, 2011; O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012). When considering the four different groups I referenced above, I think I had the hardest time saying good bye to the team that I worked with during the school year and my college roommate of 3 years. This was due to the fact that we established a relationship that was rooted in deep trust and respect. We truly looked out for the well-being of each other, rather than holding tight to our own individual interests. Working with these two groups was such a pleasant experience that I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. In addition, we worked well together. It was like we became one. As we reached that adjourning stage, it was difficult to say good-bye to the effective group that we had established (both in regards to the work environment and my roommate) and to the daily interactions that we all so enjoyed.

How Do You Say Good-Bye?

So, by now, you may start to realize that the groups with high-performance levels and clearly established norms were indeed the hardest for me to say good-bye. Yet, how exactly did we complete that adjourning stage? What rituals did we complete to help us say good-bye? Well, let me further explain …

With both my group during the school year and my college roommate of 3 years, we enjoyed a prolonged adjourning stage that lasted about a week. We took our time reliving memories and sharing how much we valued each other. Although it was bittersweet, we took the opportunities to truly instill into each other how much our group (however small) meant to us. In addition, for our last group outing, we enjoyed a meal together. We laughed and cried together, remembering how well our group  interacted. When it came time to that final good-bye, it was filled with tears and hugs, with promises to keep in touch. Due to the tight bond in each group, I have maintained contact with everyone from both groups.

Sadly, the closing rituals for the other two situations (rooming with a few other ladies and working with two paraprofessionals) were little to none. We did not really relive memories, nor did we dread saying good-bye. In fact, I felt relieved that I did not have to participate in those groups. We didn’t share a meal together, nor did we give any hugs for that final good-bye. Rather, our adjourning stage was short and sweet with a simple good-bye and good luck. There has been no contact since these two groups finished working together.

While working on my Master’s Degree ..

Groups or teams come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from just two members (like my college roommate) to a virtual group that comes together through the common bonds of technology. That means YOU! As colleagues, we have come together through the virtual classroom and shared our experiences, knowledge, and stories with each other. The more we get to know each other, the more we bond. The further we proceed in our courses, the more we must rely on. Indeed, as colleagues working towards our Master’s degrees together, we have truly formed a bond and become a team. So, how do we say good-bye? Well, since I have about another year before I have to think about that, I do imagine that it will be bittersweet. For nearly two years, you all have listened to me rambled on through discussion posts, blogs, and sometimes emails. I imagine that as we come together to graduate, we will enjoy getting to (hopefully) see each other in person. I imagine that we will be able to share a meal together to celebrate our accomplishments, while pouring over memories from classes. Finally, as it’s time to part, I hope that we will commit to staying in touch with each other, offering support in the upcoming years.

No, really, Adjourning is Important!

Sure, I will admit, there have been times when I wanted to just skip the adjourning stage and walk away from a group after the last goal was accomplished. But really … it is important to go through the final stage of adjourning. This is an essential stage of teamwork, as it will provide an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and successes in hopes to learn how to work better as a team in the future (should the team ever come back together). In addition, it will also create an opportunity for closure for the entire team. Rather than just completing the last assignment and walking away, the team will be able to say good-bye and have a sense of completion. Finally, adjourning will be able to help each team member identify how they personally performed within a group. Perhaps someone will learn that they need to be more assertive when working on a team or maybe they need to allow others to lead. This self-reflection and evaluation for team members will help individuals learn how to be more effective in future group situations.

So, overall, this post really serves to show how I have learned that the adjourning stage is significant within any group situation. Since I had the chance to say good-bye in all examples, I feel accomplished and ready to move on. Without this opportunity to even say good bye, I think I would have always wondered how the other team members felt. Furthermore, I learned a lot about myself through the adjourning stage, like how to be a better team player and how to improve my communication ability. So, that adjourning stage is essential after all.


Abudi, G. (2010). The five stages of team development: A case study. Retrieved from

O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Communication, Week 6


Conflict: A Personal Experience

Conflict, O’Hair and Wiemann (2012) say, “is inevitable” (p. 220).  It is something that cannot be avoided within a relationship, and sometimes it cannot even be resolved. Between you and me, no matter how much conflict is unavoidable, I still try with all of my might to steer clear of it. However, no matter how much I try to avoid it, conflict still manages to find me on a regular basis. Here’s a just one example of a recent conflict I encountered …


{background information} Before I share my story, I just wanted to give you a bit of an explanation to help you understand this situation a bit better. My friend, Tony, and I have been friends for years. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs, but no matter what, we have truly been there for each other. Tony is a bit older than me, but I enjoy hearing his life stories and gleaning from his experience and wisdom he shares with me. Our age difference does not really affect our friendship, however we do hail from two different technology eras. I grew up with technology  and mastered how to use a smart phone, along with text messaging. Tony, on the other hand, has not dealt with much technology, including computers, smart phones, or text messaging. In fact, he just recently upgraded to an iPhone within the past year. I enjoy teaching him how to operate these different tools of technology, and we have been able to engage in regular text messaging over the past year.

{my recent conflict encounter} So, I have been dealing with a rough couple of days that has left me feeling quite down and miserable. On the way to the gym this morning, Tony had texted me, asking if I had slept OK (since I haven’t been sleeping well). I responded back with, “Somewhat yes, but I hate feeling miserable.” Tony, being his normal, positive self, replied with “Well, we all hate feeling miserable.” This comment didn’t sit well with me, as I wasn’t really in the mood to hear how everyone else relates to feeling miserable. I shared with Tony how that comment didn’t really sit well with me.  He was a bit confused, and said “All I said was that everyone hates feeling miserable. What’s wrong with that?” At this point in time, Tony left for about 30-45 minutes (without giving me any prior warning). Tony is notoriously known for doing this. He will start a conversation with me (through text messaging), ask a question, and then go do something else for about 45 minutes. Perhaps I shouldn’t be picky, but this really bothers me. If we were in the middle of a conversation face-to-face, would he just walk away for 45 minutes? No, not likely.

When Tony finally returned and texted back, I was getting angry. I shot my responses back to him like fire, expressing how much I dislike when he leaves a conversation. Tony just couldn’t understand why I was making such a big fuss about it, saying: I would have gotten back to you. He shared with me that he doesn’t see text messaging as a way to have an important conversation, but rather it is just to share short messages. I explained how I place an importance on any conversation I have with Tony, be it in person, over the phone, or through text messaging. Tony replied back, explaining that when he grew up, he just talked to a person if it was important, while I grew up with text messaging. I responded back with a weak “ok” and took a break from texting for a while.

I wish the story ended here, but our rising argument continued in a few hours … Once I calmed down, I texted back Tony about something random. Tony immediately pointed out how he didn’t get upset that I took a while to respond and that he just waited. Well, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. My blood was boiling at this point, as I was extremely frustrated that he pointed how he handled text messaging better than I did. I managed to text the words, “I’m done. I’m walking away, and I’m done.” Our conversation turned heated, as I angrily told Tony that I was tired of him always pointing out how he does things differently than I do and how he is always seeing things through his own perspective. He shot back with frustrated remarks that I need to see things through other’s perspectives too. I couldn’t handle the conversation anymore, so I enjoyed one nice feature of text messaging: I just stopped responding. I refuse to engage in any contact with Tony, and I withdrew from the conversation; I stonewalled (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012).


So, I guess O’Hair and Wiemann (2012) were right: conflict is unavoidable. It will track you down, even when you try to escape it. Despite being inevitable, conflict can produce positive results. It’s just a matter of how one handles conflict and utilizes different strategies to resolve the problem. Let’s take my above situation, and apply a few conflict management strategies that could help resolve the issue more effectively.

  • Rather than constantly exchanging negative remarks, we could use the strategy of giving “five positive statements for every one negative” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 232). {for example} When Tony and I shift our focus from looking at the negative to incorporating more positive, our conflict may begin to dwindle down, as we would be able to see the good aspects in our friendship.
  • We could engage in the cooperative strategy of steering clear of personal attacks and remaining focused on the primary issue. This would “benefit the relationship, serve mutual rather than individual goals, and strive to produce solutions that benefit both parties” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 237).  {for example} During our conflict, Tony and I could both agree to focus on the primary issue of Tony not texting for 45 minutes during a conversation. We could work to just resolve this issue, rather than throwing in past experiences with this issue or other negative faults.
  • We could find a compromise. Through this strategy, both Tony and I would be giving up a little to gain a bit in return. This can help us find a quick solution to our conflict (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012). {for example} Tony could agree to text within a period of 15 minutes, and I could agree not to get frustrated or upset during the 15 minute period.
  • We could employ different Nonviolent Communication Skills, including:
    – Separating our feelings from our thoughts – This will help both Tony and I refrain from “judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment” (The Center for Nonviolent Communication, n.d.)
    -Being clear and concise about what we both want and make requests, not demands – This will help both Tony and I to be aware of what each other’s desires within this conversation, as well as for the potential outcome (The Center for Nonviolent Communication, n.d.).
    {for example} Tony and I would speak what our thoughts our in regards to the issue, rather than strongly voicing our feelings. In addition, I could be clear about my desire to have him respond back in a timely manner, and he could be concise about his wishes to respond back when he has a chance.
  • We could take the Third Side approach, which will help us see both perspectives, listen “to see from multiple vantage points” (The Third Side, n.d.), and speak in a way that will address both of our needs and wants. Through this strategy, we would be able to reach an “inclusive outcome that addresses the essential needs of all” (The Third Side, n.d.). {for example} Both Tony and I could take time to see each other’s perspectives, which will enable us to reach a resolution that satisfies us both.


So, this is where you come in. I outlined several strategies on how I think I could handle this conflict (which has yet to be resolved), however they all stem from my own experiences and knowledge. I am curious what you have learned in regards to conflict management and resolution. Perhaps you have gained an insight that I did not, or maybe you have a different perspective or additional information about one of the strategies I mentioned. What is some advice you have in regards to resolving the conflict I have shared? In addition, how have you learned to be more effective communicator when it comes to conflict resolution skills? Do you have any additional information or insights to share about communication and conflict management?

O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication. (n.d.). The center for nonviolent communication. Retrieved from

The Third Side. (n.d.). The third side. Retrieved from


Posted by on August 3, 2013 in Communication, Week 5



This week, we began evaluating how we perceive ourselves as communicators, as well as identifying the similarities and differences between our self-evaluation when compared to how others evaluate us. We took a series of three tests and asked close friends, family, or even perhaps a colleague to take the same test to compare results. When I started to work on these questionnaires, I pondered who I could ask to give me an honest opinion about how I communicate. I was certain that my results would be much different than those of my friends or family, but I still wanted a good picture of how I communicate in different settings, situations, or with different groups of people. Therefore, I settled on Sam, who is a very good friend of mine. Sam and I have known each other for years, and our friendship has grown solid. Since we are so close, I tend to take out my frustrations on him during some of our conversations, so I figured that my verbal aggression would score high according to Sam’s perception. I also decided on Rita, a colleague. Rita and I converse together much differently compared to my family (as I tend to let my mouth run a bit looser in a much more laid back, secular setting). My communication would obviously be different according to her, right? Well, let’s take a look at the results …


Looking at these results, the one thing that surprised me the most was that my communication style and skills remained the same across a variety of situations, settings, and with different groups of people. This shocked me for a various of reasons. For starters, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I rated myself about the same as my friend and colleague did. Since I often deal with low self-esteem, I tend to have an “inconsistent view” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, 49) of myself, which ranges from thinking I’m a good communicator with my colleagues to thinking I am an ineffective communicator with my friends. When I saw these results, my self-esteem was encouraged, as I found out that my communication skills are perceived about the same through my eyes, my friend’s, and my colleague’s.

In addition, I was surprised that Sam rated my verbal aggression moderate, as I tend to raise my voice more with him than any other person. When I am frustrated or upset, I usually end up “blowing up” at him because I know that he can handle me. Knowing this negative trait about myself, I anticipated that Sam would also perceive that as well. Yet, I was startled to discover that he does not consider me as aggressive as I do. Rather, my verbal aggressiveness is moderate, which is almost identical to the results that both my colleague and I had.

Furthermore, when I asked Rita to complete these communication inventories, I was very curious to see how she viewed my communication ability as a professional. Sure, I could figure out how I communicate with my friends and family, but I wanted to know, How do I communicate as a professional? What do my colleagues and families take away after talking to me? I was surprised to find that my communication abilities are perceived just about the same across different situations with different types of people. This surprised me, as I began to realize that perhaps I am more of a competent communicator than I expected.

Looking at these results, I came to the conclusion that I am actually a better communicator than I realize. Since I am perceived about the same in my verbal aggression, listening skills, and communication anxiety from friends and colleagues, my effectiveness in communication is more than likely equivalent in a variety of settings. This encouraged me and helped to boost my self-esteem, challenging me to become an even more effective, competent communicator with everyone I encounter.


Completing these questionnaires, comparing the results with a friend and a colleague, and reading through the learning resources allowed me to gain a number of insights that will ultimately impact my professional work and my personal life. They are as follows:

1. As I learned through my own personal results, an effective communicator will more than likely be perceived about the same across a variety of situations and within different groups of people. I believe that the more reliable and stable one’s communication abilities are, the more he or she will be able to be competent in communication. This insight is important for my professional work through the realization that I need to maintain a consistent set of communication skills with all families and children. If one family perceives that I communicate much differently with them as compared to another family, this may make them question the relationship and trust I have established with them. This lesson is also crucial within my personal life as well. If my family sees me communicating completely differently with my friends (or vice versa), both groups may wonder who the “real me” . In order to be a effective communicator, I need to consciously be aware of how I am emitting my communication skills within different contexts and with different groups of people.

2. Before looking at the results from my friend and colleague, I anticipated vastly different results because I thought I communicated different within a professional  and personal setting. However, I grasped the idea that one person can alter the way they communicate with different groups of people (for example, a simple vocabulary with children verses a more complex one with adults) without changing the way they are perceived as a communicator. Just because I interact differently with my friends does not mean that I change my entire ability to communicate. An effective communicator is able to engage in self-monitoring, which is the “ability to watch your environment and others in it for cues as to how to present yourself in a particular situation” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 55). This is a crucial lesson to learn for my professional work, as I need to be aware how to adapt my communication when working with children verses adults without changing the way I am perceived as a communicator in general. This is also imperative for my personal life, as I strive modify my communication skills pending the group of people I am with (friends or family), yet I am still able to be seen as the same Erin with both sets of people.

3. As we interpret and perceive other individuals, I have discovered that this impacts your own self-perception as well. For example, if I determine that a person is richer than I am based on first impressions, I may alter how I communicate with them. I may not be as bold in discussions or be more shy than usual. On the other hand, if I am in a higher authoritative power than someone else, I may be more domineering and bossy when communicating with them. I have learned that how I perceive others will impact how I perceive myself, as I often engage in the social comparison theory, comparing myself to others (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012).  This lesson taught me that I need to “look beyond first impressions” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 42). As I work to put aside my initial perceptions and cast aside any comparisons between myself and the other individual, I will be able to embrace more effective communication among friends, family, colleagues, children, their families, and others.

4. Lastly, I gained the insight that a person’s self-efficacy can vary among different types of groups. I have discovered that how I approach a situation and present myself differs among friends, family, professionals, and children. For example, if I am in the presence of my parents, I tend to present myself in a humble fashion, knowing that my parents are wiser and more knowledgeable than me. If something comes in to question, I tend to trust their judgment rather than my own, even if I think that I am correct. However, when I am having a conversation with a family, I present myself in a professional manner that emits a sense of control, yet respect. My self-efficacy in this situation is much different in comparison to that of my parents (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012). This insight taught me that I need to work on my self-efficacy in both personal and professional situations.  I need to present myself in a positive manner  in all settings and situations (well, if it’s appropriate) to raise my effectiveness in communication.

All of these new lessons allowed me to gain a better perception of how I communicate, how others perceive me, as well as equipped me with new insights on how I can enhance my communication ability with friends, family, colleagues, children, and their families.


O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.


Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Communication, Week 4


Culture and Communication

Culture is all around us … quite literally. No matter where we go, there will be some type of diversity we encounter. Whether it is at the grocery story, in a discussion post, or even within our own families, there will always be similarities and differences that someone has to contribute to cultural diversity. Yet, did you ever stop to think about how much culture and diversity influences our communication? Reading through the article written by Beebe, Beebe, and Redmond (2011), I was blown away when I read this sentence, “culture has a direct effect on how we communicate with one another” (p. 97). As I began to piece this connection and relationship together, I asked myself the daunting question of, “Do I find myself communicating differently with individuals who are from different groups and/or cultures?” I was shocked to discover that the answer to that was a very obvious yes. I never realized this until now, but I do engage (unconsciously) in different communication styles when I am interacting with those who are in some way, shape, or form different than me. Here are just a few examples:

  • Those who speak another language other than English – I will admit that I am a monolingual person. I only speak English, with a very minor understanding and verbal ability to speak Spanish. This can sometimes be a challenge when I am working with families who solely speak Spanish (or perhaps another language). While translators definitely come in hand, I have discovered that “even when language is translated, meaning can be missed or mangled” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 100). For instance, when we were requesting more personal supplies for a student, we somehow misinterpreted the word “pad” for “pill.” The student’s poor grandmother was very confused and upset about the pills her granddaughter was on. So, there are times when I do have to take the bull by the horns and attempt to have a conversation with these individuals, even though there is a clear communication barrier. However, I have found that to compensate for this verbal challenge, I overcompensate my nonverbal skills. I utilize a lot more body movements and gestures to try to help get the message across. For example, I incorporate a lot of illustrators to “help visually explain what is being said” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 135). I have discovered that my overuse of nonverbal communication is more pronounced when communicating with those who speak a different language.
  • Marginalized Groups, especially the LGBT community and other races – Over the past several years, I have developed a deep sense of respect for those in marginalized groups who endure such hardships and oppression, while I have more opportunities and privileges in some situations. With this being said, I definitely incorporate politically correct language into nearly all of my conversations with these individuals. I have consciously attempted to “replace the biased language with more neutral terms” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 112) to try to help the other individual feel more at ease. I am learning, however, that while this may be a good intention,  I can “unintentionally offend someone through more subtle use and misuse of language” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond 2011, p. 89).
  • My Family verses My Colleagues – Even though I have discovered differences in my communication with those outside of my personal group, I was startled to find a difference in my communication among my family verses those I work with. Within my family, we were raised under the strong conviction not to use “bad language,” including cursing. If someone were to even let a swear word out, there were negative consequences. Therefore, whenever I am around my family, I engaged in a more wholesome language/communication style, while delicately avoiding any insulting language to them. However, when I am among my colleagues, we share a sort of slang “that is informal, nonstandard, and usually particular” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 106) to our classroom group. We engage in friendly banter and sometimes use swear words for humorous occasions (which are always used when not around our students). If I were to use this type of slang around my family members, I would get a lot of weird looks and suffer the consequences. Therefore, I can really decipher how much my communication differs between my colleagues and my family.

Considering these differences in my communication styles among people who are in different groups or cultures, I have formulated several strategies (based on the learning resources from this week) that would help enhance effective communication among all of the groups lists above, as well as for others that are not listed. They are as follows:


In further elaboration …

  • Create a “third culture” perspective – This type of perspective will foster effective communication because the “people involved in the conversation (will) construct ‘a mutually beneficial interactive environment in which individuals from two different cultures can function in a way beneficial to all involved'” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 107). Therefore, rather than having to understand two different cultures within a communication context, this “third culture” perspective is “more comprehensive and inclusive” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 106), leading to greater understanding for everyone.
  • Investigate and get to know the background of other individuals  – As time permits, a great way to enhance effective communication is to get to know and understand the culture, background, perspectives, point of views, and so forth of the other person to truly recognize and identify how they best communicate. It will not only help you behave appropriately, but it will also decrease the impact of any communication barriers (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 104). Furthermore, you may be able to acknowledge a common ground between all involved, which will also foster effective communication (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 103). Finally, this strategy may help you avoid the pitfalls of cultural myopia and ethnocentrism.
  • Always apply the “Platinum Rule” – Milton Bennett identified the Platinum Rule as “Do to others as they themselves would like to be treated” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 114). By applying this rule to communication, regardless of who you are interacting with, you will be focusing on how the other individual would like to be treated. Through doing this, you will be taking the emphasis off of yourself and how your culture/perspectives influence you and placing the emphasis on the other individual, which will lead to more effective communication.
  • Adopt an “other-oriented” perspective – This goes hand-in-hand with applying the “Platinum Rule.” The more someone adopts an “other-oriented” perspective, the greater the communication will become. When this perspective is donned, you may be able to “adjust your communication style and language, if necessary, to put the person at ease” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 110). Furthermore, you may experience more empathy by being able to “take into account another person’s thoughts and perspective, and … consider what the other person may be experiencing emotionally” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 110). Overall, “the logical extension of being flexible and becoming other-oriented is to adapt your communication to enhance the quality and effectiveness of your interpersonal communication” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 112).
  • Identify and acknowledge your personal culture and social identities – “Your culture and your life experiences determine your worldview (which) shapes your thoughts, language, and actions; it permeates all aspects of how you interact with society” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 93). Whether you realize it or not, your personal culture and social identities have an impact on how you communicate. The more you become aware of how these influence your communication, the better you will be able to control any prejudices, biases, or stereotypes that may have risen unconsciously. However, the less one is aware of this impact, there may be “the potential for misunderstanding and mistrust” (Beebe, Beebe, & Redmond, 2011, p. 97). Therefore, in order to embrace effective communication with individuals from different cultures and groups, I believe it is important to identify and acknowledge your own personal culture and social identities with can significantly impact your communication.


Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Redmond, M. V. (2011). Interpersonal communication: Relating to others (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in Communication, Week 3


Silence TV: Nonvebal vs. Verbal Communication

Have you ever sat down with a group of friends, put a TV show on silent, and made up a completely random story about what might be happening? I remember recently a co-worker and I were watching Dora the Explorer in Spanish. Since neither one of us spoke that language, we really did not have a clue as to what was going on. So, we had fun and made up the story line that Dora and her friends were on their way to Boston Market. It was funny to do, but it also helped me realize how many assumptions can be made just based on the body language and facial expressions of a conversation. For this week’s assignment, I watched a TV show on silent to see how many different assumptions I made before turning on the sound.

The TV show I decided on was one I had never seen before. Perhaps some of you have heard it … it is called “How I Met Your Mother.” I’m not a big fan of TV, so don’t be alarmed that I have never seen this show before. In fact, when I watched it without any sound the first time, I labeled the characters, G(1), G(2), B(1) and so forth. Just in case some of you have never seen this TV show either and don’t know any of the characters’ names, here’s a quick reference for you:himym

The episode I picked was from season 1, episode 16, entitled “Game Night.” Below you will find a YouTube link of a snippet of this episode when Barney decides to “suit up.”


The first time I watched this episode, I turned the volume off to see if I could pick up on the story line based on nonverbal communication, including body language and facial expressions. Based on this initial evaluation, I assumed what the characters’ relationships were with each other, as well as what they might be feeling and expressing to each other.

* Characters’ Relationships

I believe that this TV show revolves around the five characters that all have a close friendship. The different scenes in this episode, which included a restaurant/bar and an apartment setting, revealed the close bond that these five characters have. For example, all five of the characters remained with in personal spatial zone, which according to O’Hair & Wiemann (2012), this zone ranges from about eighteen inches to four feet and is use to “communicate with friends, relatives, and occasionally colleagues” (p. 143). In addition, throughout the episode, they also displayed a “friendship-warm touch,” which “conveys liking and affection between people who know each other well” (O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, p. 145). Through these two different types of nonverbal communication, I could sense that these five characters have a close friendship.

I also assumed that two of the characters, Lily and Marshall, were in a romantic relationship. Whenever the characters were seated together, Lily and Marshall sat just a bit closer together. In the beginning scene at the restaurant, Lily and Marshall’s shoulders touched each other. From these cues, I sensed that they shared more of an intimate spatial zone and more of a love-intimacy touch(O’Hair & Wiemann, 2012, pp. 143, 145). These forms of led me to make the assumption that Lily and Marshall were romantically involved with each other.

* Feelings and Expressions

Since I was limited to only nonverbal behaviors and communication, I had to pay close attention to facial expressions and body language to determine what the characters were expressing and feeling to each other. In the beginning scene, all the characters were seated around at a restaurant or bar. It appeared that Ted was trying to get Lily and Marshall to do something (what this something is, I wasn’t sure of until I listened to it with sound) through positioning his body closer to them and vividly using his hands and facial expressions to describe this event. Barney did not seem to be a fan of this, as his face clearly showed disapproval, and he waved his finger “no” to support this disapproval. Barney appeared to continue question Ted, causing Ted to get upset and turn his body towards Barney in defense. However, Barney continued to tried to pursued Lily and Marshall to do something, and Lily reluctantly agreed by rolling her eyes.

The setting shifts to an apartment, where all of the characters are seated, with an additional girl (who I discovered is named Victoria). It seems as if Marshall is trying to explain how to play the game using colorful facial expressions and animated hand motions. When Ted took the first time, Marshall read the card, and Victoria answered the question. After she provided the answer, Barney appeared surprised by this response when he raised his eyebrows. Barney followed through with his surprise by questioning Victoria, which caused Ted to looked shocked by what Barney had just asked. This prompted Lily to ask a question, causing Barney to sit up in the chair abruptly. It appeared that Barney wanted to answer whatever question Lily had asked. Yet his facial expressions showed that he “didn’t know,” although his body language was displaying the contradictory message that he really did know. At this point, Lily got up and retrieved a video tape. Barney showed nervousness when he jumped out of the chair and shred the tape, letting his friend know that he did not want them to see what was on that tape. Lily produced another copy of the tape, which contributed to the growing look of embarrassment painted all over Barney’s face. Barney’s protest against seeing that video was evident through his body language, as he tried to stop Lily from putting it in the VCR. However, Ted jumped in the way, which told Barney that he did want to see what was on the video. The video tape revealed a younger version of Barney, who appeared very downcast and sobbing while singing. At this point, Barney removed the tape and walked out of the apartment.

The next scene was back at the restaurant or bar, where the characters (including Victoria) were seated, except Barney. He showed up a few seconds later, of which everyone initially displayed empathetic looks. However, these were quickly replaced with smiles, which prompted Barney to act as if he was leaving. All of the characters extended their hands, as if to tell him that they really did want him to stay. Barney sat back down, and Lily’s face showed empathy as she asked him something. This lead into a series of flashbacks from each character that revealed an embarrassing moment. These ranged from Marshall being discovered by Lily’s students in the bathroom, Ted throwing up on Robin’s carpet, and someone hearing Lily and Marshall having sex over the phone. After each story was told, each of the characters displayed an embarrassed look. This helped Barney to tell a bit more about the background of the video, which included him discovering that his then-girlfriend was cheating on him, so he turned his hippy look into a businessman by “suiting up.” (See the above YouTube clip for this part of the episode.)  After Barney had finished sharing his story, he appeared to be sad by hanging his head and putting his hands over his eyes. All of the characters immediately showed a sense of sadness on their faces and leaned their bodies toward Barney to show empathy. However, Barney jumped up and lit his face up with a smile. He appeared to be satisfied that he managed to get all of his friends to share an embarrassing story while acting as if he was depressed over this then-girlfriend leaving him. All of the characters were shocked and then laughed when they realized what Barney had just done.

Watching this episode without any sound was challenging, but I was able to follow the story line through the use of body language, facial expressions, and even hand motions. All of these nonverbal communication skills allowed me to pieces together that this episode was centered around sharing embarrassing moments of each of the characters, of which Barney tricked them into do by acting that he was embarrassed and sad about the video tape and his ex-girlfriend cheating on him.


After watching without sound, I decided to re-watch this episode with sound to discover if my assumptions about the characters and the plot were accurate based on the interpretation I made of the nonverbal communication I observed.

While my assumptions were fairly accurate, there were several that had to be corrected:

* The entire show is essentially stories of how a child’s mother and father met. This was a voice layover in the beginning of the episode that could only be heard. It revealed that Marshall was always good at games and won almost every time, which is why they decided to have a game night.
* In the beginning scene at the restaurant, Ted is actually asking everyone (not just Lily and Marshall) to be nice to his new girlfriend, Victoria. In addition, he also asked that no one tell Victoria about his feelings for Robin. This is why Lily rolled her eyes. Furthermore, Barney was not showing his disapproval, but rather making fun of Ted for not telling Robin or Victoria about his feelings for Robin.
* The romantic relationship (or the previous one) between Robin and Ted was not something I picked up on through nonverbal communication, as it appeared that they were just friends.
* In the apartment, Lily did not actually ask Barney a question, but rather stated that she ran into someone who knew Barney and couldn’t remember her name. As she was spouting of names, the name “Shannon” came up, and this caused Barney to jump. There was a voice fluctuation, which clearly indicated that he knew who Shannon was, yet he refused to acknowledge her.
* Barney was nervous because Shannon had given Lily a tape for Barney. Once again, Barney’s voice changed to a high pitch, indicating that he did not want others to see this tape.
* Lily didn’t have two copies of the tape, but rather she gave Barney a fake tape before producing the actual copy.
* My assumptions were correct about Barney not wanting his friends to see the video tape, and that the video tape revealed a very sad Barney.
* In the restaurant, my assumptions were also correct that his friends were very empathetic and apologetic when Barney arrived, as well as his friends laughing about the tape.
* I predicted correctly that each of the friends shared an embarrassing story in order to get Barney to open up about his embarrassing moment.
* I was correct about Barney’s embarrassing story, which included his girlfriend cheating on him. However, I did not expect that Barney was planning to go off to the Peace Corp, but his girlfriend left him for a more successful man.
* Finally, I was correct in my assumption that Barney was just tricking them to get his friends to share an embarrassing story.

If this had been a show that I watched regularly, I believe that my assumptions would have been more accurate. Knowing the background information about the characters and the kind of relationships between the two would have enabled me to pick up on more nonverbal cues between Robin and Ted, as well as between the others, In addition, I would have also known about the relationship between Victoria and Ted. If I had known more about this show, I would have been more in tune to how all the characters interact and communicate with each other, both verbally and non-verbally.

Completing this exercise really gave me a unique perspective on communication. I realized how essential verbal communication is, as well as how much nonverbal communication accentuates verbal communication.  In addition, I also grasped the fact that nonverbal communication can say a lot about your conversations, even to those who are not actively participating. This helped me learn that I need to watch my nonverbal communication to ensure that I don’t send the wrong message to those who may be watching me, including little eyes. Finally, I grew more aware that one can’t assume they know everything just based on nonverbal communication. If this were to occur, a lot of information would go missing, making the conversation ineffective. In order for a communicator to be effective, both verbal and nonverbal communication need to be utilized appropriately and efficiently to truly embrace effective communication.


O’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

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Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Communication, Week 2


An Inspiring Individual

Welcome to Communication and Collaborating in the Early Childhood Field! Over the next eight weeks, we will learn and explore the topic of communication together, sharing both personal and professional experiences. Before I get started, let me first extend a thank you for embarking on this journey with me and allowing me to partake in your learning experience. I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to work with talented and inspiring colleagues.

With that being said, allow me to begin our journey together by sharing with you about an individual who I believe had competent communication skills within an educational context. This is how my story goes …

I work in a multiple-disabilities classroom with two amazing colleagues. We support and collaborate with each other to physically assist and academically support our students. Since our classroom involves multiple disabilities, we are faced with additional challenges that other classrooms may not endure. For example, one of our students is ambulatory with a significant fall risk. One morning this past May, this student took a stumble that resulted in a trip to the ER room and stitches. While this student was ok, there were considerations to be made in regards to safety concerns within her IEP. Rita, the main classroom teacher, worked diligently on her IEP to ensure that it provided safety provisions for this student. One day, Rita discovered that someone has included false information in regards to this incident that depicted an inaccurate picture of the student. After a few days, Rita approached the individual who wrote this information. I was privileged to observe the conversation that allowed me to see how to effectively communicate.

During this conversation, Rita outlined her points, which were supported with factual information. For instance, Rita discussed with this individual that no one had interviewed her in regards to the student fall and therefore there was false information about this student. (For example, Rita had documentation showing that the student had stitches on her chin, while the information on the IEP depicted stitches on her head.) The individual commented that she was wrong with putting that information in there. Rita continued on, without any emotion, by describing how she felt when she read that information. After she finished, she allowed an opportunity for the other individual to share her perspective. As this individual shared, Rita remained attentive with direct eye contact. Once the other individual had finished sharing, Rita affirmed what she had heard and told the individual that she understood where the individual stood. Together, Rita worked with the other individual to correct the information on the IEP that incorporated both the other individual’s suggestions and Rita’s.

Witnessing this interaction showed me a lot about effective communication that I would like to model within my own communication. Some of the behaviors that made Rita an effective communicator were:


After looking at all of the behaviors that Rita utilized in this conversation, I have begun to implement them within my own communication with others. For example, I am paying more attention to how often I am using eye contact. Previously, I wouldn’t engage in as much direct eye contact. However, through observing Rita, I can see how important it is and have begun to engage in more direct eye contact. In addition, I realized how crucial it is to have factual information, rather than just data based on my own assumptions. Through having documentation and facts that were accurate, Rita was able to be more effective in communication, which revealed to me that I need to bring truthful, accurate information into any conversation for more effectiveness. Furthermore, I grasped the idea that I need to first listen to an individual, then reaffirm what they have said before imposing my own thoughts. Through doing this, the other person/people will feel that they were heard and are important. Finally, I learned through Rita that an effective communicator also includes collaborating with the other individual/people to create a conclusion of the conversation together. For example, Rita worked with the individual to create a safety plan together, which reflected both Rita and the individual’s contribution. When I communicate with families, I realized that an effective conversation will reveal everyone’s input, rather than just one person’s. Modeling after Rita’s behaviors has refined my communication ability and enabled me become an even better communicator.


Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Communication, Week 1