Love Thy Self: An introspective retrospective

After looking back upon everything that I have done and written in this class, especially the presentation, analysis, and now this self-critique, I realized that my entire scheme revolved around impression management. I have a very strong sense of self (probably because as a child I lacked self-confidence, and am now making up for it) and always want to portray that, whether in writing or in speech. Whenever I wrote a piece for this course, I would always try to express the deepest possible feelings for the topic.

I introduce my self-critique with this topic as an opening example of 1. how my entire life before this class was one big “interbeing” preparing for this class, and 2. why my communication hides a lot about me and also what I will/won’t say.

According to Sports08, “everything can be connected to many different things when we think deeply enough.” (Discussion “Hanh…”; “Finding Connection…”) And this is true, because when I really thought about why I approached this course the way that I did (this thought process sparked by the past couple assignments), I was able to make the connection to a distant childhood where self-esteem and my own self-worth came into jeopardy. The reasons why are not important, but rather the how. How was this realized? This was realized because I noticed myself communication like others around me at that time in my life – almost as if I was trying to act like them. I have seen how the interacted, and now am emulating them. How does this link up to this course, you might be wondering. Well, if I didn’t communicate the way that I do now, then who knows where I would be in this course. I probably wouldn’t be able to affect and next others the way that I have, and certainly wouldn’t be the driving force behind a group topic. I can conclusively say, that I would not be as confident in my ability to communicate without the previous “inter-be” events of my life.

So now you must be thinking that, “since this guy is so confident, what is there left to hide?” Good thing I asked for you (wink…). Bridge Of Ideas says that “people refrain from being brutally honest with each other as a way to both be respectful, and to protect ourselves.” (Discussion “Postman…”; “Pretend you don’t…”) And this is true of me in a two-fold sense. In the first part, BoI talks about respect for others. And as much as I want to say what I really want to say, I can’t knowing that words are hurtful and may harm another. So instead, I try to phrase my criticism in the most constructive way possible. I know that if I were to come out in the open and harass someone for writing a particular post, then I would be publicly ridiculed and certainly lose respect within this class (remember my self-esteem issues?). This is how I relate this idea to the second part of that sentence – protecting ourselves. There is a thin line that people walk along when be critical of others. One step too far, and the criticism can turn into conflict; the conflict then turns into a verbal battle of respect; and most likely the person who began the conflict will be on the losing end of the respect fight. (more “interbeing…”)

I need to preserve my self image by being confident and honest, but I need to know my limits and the limits of others so as to not lose respect in this realm of this course. Proper synergies of confidence and respect breeds more confidence and respect from others and within.


Who Really Defines Us? Manifestations of Tensionality

Group 1 consisting of Ania, Nick, Liz, Charles, and Sean decided to focus on the transition of interpersonal communication (from one role as one type of communicator to a new role as a new type of communicator) as a by-product of tensionality. To sum it up, our broad topic is the “chicken and the egg” theory behind defining roles. Who defines who we are as communicators? Us – the ones who speak? Or the interlocuters – the ones who next us?

Furthermore, as roles are defined, tension might be created because someone might not want to be defined in such a way by his/her interlocuters, peers, observers. In these instances, a tensionality argument arises. Does someone “let others happen to them” or does one “stand up for oneself”? Through our research of our class and the Group Dynamics class we have come to find these answers based on various examples. These examples range from personal experiences in working (and developing roles) with other classmates to studying role development as an observer looking into a class about interpersonal communication.

The most important thing to take away from our presentation is one simple piece of advice – allow tensionality to happen. As communicators, when we allow the other to happen to us, we expand our knowledge of not only our peers but our surroundings. When we hold our own ground, we allow others to do the same – learn about us and attempt to truly understand us. Through allowing tensionality to happen we are eliminate confusion and thus eliminating conflict.


Final Assignment


*Note: All people will be referred to by their blog usernames to protect the innocent*


Example 1: JohnnieDrama (written by himself)


In the first assignment for the Interpersonal Communication course, Johnnie Drama decided to write about soccer and how much he loves it in The Beautiful Game. Now when one thinks of something that they love, they usually speak in a tone that conveys that love or emotion. Johnnie, however, wrote in a tone that almost sounded angry. Singer12 commented on this notion: “I could not help but sense a bit of anger in your tone. Were you intentionally expressing anger for those who did not appreciate futbol in the way that you did? Your writing was powerful. By the time I reached the last sentence, there was no doubt in my mind how well you knew, and how much you loved soccer.” The comments to the blog also reveal the readers sense of power in Johnnie’s writing. Singer12 also writes, “I have never before read such passionate writing about a sport. The way you described soccer, futbol was truly unbelievable.Commsyr09 adds “so soccer really is a passion of yours. The way you describe it makes me want to put my shin-guards and cleets on and hit the field!” Both of these comments reinforce, to Johnnie, that he is a powerful writer, and that his writing and passion can affect people. A good start for Johnnie, no?


For a person who appears to be a powerful writer and communicator with a very strong personality, it makes you wonder why the next that we hear from Johnnie is about two weeks later! There was no correspondence from July 16 to July 28. Maybe our preconceived notions of Johnnie were terribly off… Maybe this imposter is really just a slacker who shows signs of brilliance every now and again…


Now is not the time for explanations for his absence or excuses, but knowing Johnnie personally, I can confidently say that this disconnect killed Johnnie’s internal sense of worth within the scope of this class. He wrote such a powerful opening assignment to show to try to assert some power on the class, however, his poor showing for the next two weeks put his identity into obscurity.


Johnnie does, however, smarten up and return to the class for the beginning of the team selection process. Ironically, when selecting his team member preferences, he makes a large faux pa. He includes the same person on his list of students that he wants to work with, but then again on the list of students that he doesn’t want to work with… oops. Perhaps better communication in the previous two weeks would have allowed him to see the similarities between a person’s blog and his real identity in the class discussion.


In the next assignment, posted in the course discussion thread 5:2, we see Johnnie’s summary and analysis of Alberti and Emmons “What it Means to be Assertive.” It appears from the writing, that Johnnie has returned to original form from his original assignment post. In comparison to the others covering that article, he writes a novel, in terms of length. The same power is included in his writing – “As one can see from my three previous colleagues, the authors provide a thorough definition, and consequently an explanation of the definition, of the concept of assertiveness. So I will spare you the boredom of reading through yet another spewing out of that mundane topic. Rather, I am going to provide you with the journey that I went through as I read this article.” (“Assert, assess, proceed…” 5:2) In his assessment of the article, he uses his insight from personal experiences with his girlfriend to set the example for a real world situation of assertiveness and its consequences. Johnnie also creates an idea that was never covered in the textbook, but rather imagined by his own mind – the consequentiality equation/tree. The professor was truly impressed by Johnnie’s return to the class – “Beautiful, [Johnnie]… In particular I like this conclusion… Also, your notion of the consequentiality equation is also intriguing”


It appears that, based on the content and power of Johnnie’s discussion post, that he was trying to make up for that initial lack of contact for the previous two weeks. It is almost as if had two weeks of pent up writing to put onto paper (or word processor) and it all came out in one big post. The motives behind this powerful writing, besides getting a grade for it, are to 1.) make up for missing the previous assignment 2.) get back on the map, in terms of the push for leadership, and 3.) as a personal motivator to try to overcome his own personal embarrassment for missing those two weeks.


In the next installment from Johnnie Drama, we see him commenting on Steph’s post “nexting” and being nexted: what we exhale becomes us. Once again, Johnnie is using strong and assertive writing – “I feel that my colleagues are not seeing these articles the way that they were intended to be seen.” He tries to create the illusion that his level of perception is above that of his classmates – a clear power move. Moreover, he also comments about how the whole class was being conned by its own professor: “you will see the ulterior motives which Steph decided not to express to us. She needed to butter us up before she bamboozled us with group projects. Steph got out our thinking caps for us, and deviously led us by the hand.”These audacious things are being said so that conversation will be created by and about Johnnie Drama and his comment. He tried to create a whirlwind of conflict and intrigue, and it worked. In a following blog post’s comment, TheCakeIsALie says, “when I was reading all of the comments, one stood out for me above all of the others. Johnniedrama proposes a conspiracy theory…” So it turns out that Johnnie Drama’s unfortunate carelessness in skipping two weeks of class has turned around in his favor. His perceived humiliation has spawned an internal motivator to put him back in the good graces of the group.


Up until now, we have seen Johnnie only take bits and pieces of other classmates’ work and play off of them. Most of the time he would revolve some idea of his around a particular quotation by an author of an article or by a student. Up until now, he has been beating around the bush and avoided coming right out and saying what he wants. Up until now…


In response to assignment 6:3 (“Teaming”), Johnnie might have written his greatest piece of work within the realm of this course. The general idea for the assignment was to create a summary of your team member’s thoughts and approaches to communication and group work. Johnnie, though, being the brazen one that he is, decided to take this idea a bit further. “This is a roll call of who is currently on my team, and its a frank and honest synopsis of what I think of each. Granted, these determinations are being made on flash judgments” Johnnie, trying to prove that he is above the influence of consequences, shows his candor by giving his honest opinion about his own group – a group that he will have to do an entire project with; a project that hasn’t even begun yet. He goes through each of his group mates and picks each one apart, including himself, and doesn’t spare a thing. The reason why this might be his best work throughout the whole class is because it was this articlethat spawned the basis and the groundwork for the group presentation that you are currently reading. (We’ve come full circle, it seems…)


The shockwave ensues… Steph makes a direct comment on this post: “Nice flashes, they definitely establish expectation and set parameters of possibility!” In one of Johnnie’s group member’s blog, DeliverMeSummer writes Its Time, Ready, Set, Debate, which partly discusses Johnnie’s roll call of flash judgments. Here is what DeliverMeSummer has to say:

“As I mentioned in a previous entry, I absolutely loved Johnniedrama’s post… I cannot speak to the accuracy of his descriptions of other teammates, but he nailed my personality! After looking back over his entry, I’m curious to see if we are fulfilling the roles he described… Furthermore – (and I want to stress this!) – I wonder if we are fulfilling (or will fulfill) the roles he described because he described them as such (It’s the chicken-or-the-egg phenomenon).”

And that is how this whole idea of roles and tensionality was started – the chicken and the egg phenomenon. Now that the seed was planted in Johnnie’s mind, he needed to further this idea and keep the proverbial plant growing. In his next post he argues with himself over the chicken and egg claim the DeliverMeSummer brought up.

Well technically, according to what Steph has said about our interlocuters creating us and shaping who we are, then it’s really not a chicken and egg paradox. It is clear that the chicken (being me) came before the egg (the personalities that I have just created for my teammates)… Perhaps I just got lucky with dictating who DeliverMeSummer is, or perhaps I am the chicken… Perhaps I am not the chicken – I describe commsyr09 as my “argumentative counterpart”… DeliverMeSummer is subtly trying to prod commsyr09 into a debate-like situation with me, which is what I want [but not getting]… Yes I am the chicken for DeliverMeSummer, but commsyr09 does not see me as so.”


It is very clear that Johnnie Drama, who showed a single flash of brilliance, almost emulating a supernova, and then died out. He died out for about two weeks in fact, but just like the Phoenix, he rose from his ashes. Not only did he rise, he came back with a fire inside and something to prove. Now was he trying to prove his worth to himself, to the class, or to the professor? Does it matter? By missing that class time, he created a tension inside himself so great that he tried to take over the whole course. It appears that he was pretty successful, at least in his group project. His strong personality helped pick the topic, and helped shape how the topic was discussed. In this discussion threads, Johnnie posted twenty-seven of the seventy-eight total posts – that’s 34%, and there were 5+ people posting to those threads.


Example 2: Moses84 (written by Johnniedrama)


*All identity roles are opinions of my own, as if I were a member of this course. Actual outside opinions of Moses’ role will be cited*

**For all intents and purposes, I am going to consider Moses84 to be a male.**


In Moses’ first post, which was a comment on Time to DECIDE, what will YOU create? by Steph, he commences his perceived identity. To say the least, he appears to be a “go-getter” – a teacher’s pet, if you will. He is the very first person to post a comment to this blog, by almost a full hour. Now maybe he got lucky and his class schedule worked out so that he could do homework at this time, or maybe he is trying to show to everyone that he is leader? We only have one entry to build off of, so we need to move on. One thing to note, though, he is direct in his syntax and ideas: “In my opinion we should try to put something together that really reflects the direct impact that the topic has had on us, such as improving the world in whatever way that may mean, and the idea of freedom of expression.” He doesn’t beat around the bush, but rather just comes right out and states his wants and opinions. Furthermore, three people agreed with Moses’ ideas, increasingly shaping his role, right now, as a standout leader.


Yet again, in the comments section of Steph’s next blog, Getting to gist, we see Moses84 high atop the chronology of comments. He isn’t first, this time, third, in fact, but his presence is definitely felt. The initial hot topic of the comment thread was started by Samesies – “I thought the fishbowl was repetitive, and yet didn’t accomplish anything when it was brought to the rest of the class. Overall, no decisions were made, and ‘individuals are beginning to challenge differences in a bid to regain their individuality, power, and influence.’” – but Moses stir up even more heat in hisbid to regain powerand influence. Moses brings up Jazz, who apparently attempted to facilitate the discussion process in the fishbowl by becoming the class’ moderator – which, according to Moses and others, failed miserably. Moses just nexted Samesies in order to 1.) show the need for a strong leader, and 2.) prove that Jazz is not that leader that is needed. Moses identified with the statement that Samesies was making, embraced it, and then turned it around to be used as a position of power (much the popular kids that Daniel Goleman speaks of in his article “The Rudiments of Social Intelligence).


Right now, we can fairly make some assumptions of Moses – he is not afraid to be considered out-spoken (calling out Jazz’s failure), he wants to be recognized as an asset to this class (initiative in the timeliness of posts), and probably wants to be a leader of this course (or at least has leadership-type qualities about him). All that being said, his next post allows us to delve more deeply into Moses’ psyche. Akademakid makes the first comment on Steph’s blog, What are you/we going to produce?!, and he says that he has the need to say, “lets do the freaking UMass thing already. Knowone [sic] else has any ideas.” This is a bold statement for this class, which appears to be in some sort of a debate over the content on the future wiki page. Moses recognizes this stance that Akademakid is taking and wants to ride the shirt-tails – “I am also in the communication group, and find myself feeling very similar to akademakid.” Moses wants to associate himself with the “popular kid” in the current situation. Wanting a feeling of recognition, he also identifies himself as a member of the Communication Group. Moses then goes on to make a statement that will further establish his role as an out-spoken leader- “I also find myself holding back what I think in order to make sure that I am heard clearly, and what I’m saying is not taken in as noise.” He knows what he wants to say (probably brash and crude comments), but he knows that as a diplomat (aka class leader), he needs to gain the respect of his peers.


In his next post, a comment to Steph’s Consistency and consensus: mutually exclusive?, Moses “takes a stab” at being honorable and honest. He openly admits that he did not come to class on that Monday, and yet he still has the gall to question the teaching style of the course that he has seen thus far. Based on what he says – “This class is pretty much the polar opposite of every sense of structure that we have come to learn over our past 16 years of schooling.” – it is clear that he has strong opinions and has the interpersonal openness and assertiveness to state said opinions. Looking deeper into this, this comfort with true expression of feelings can stem from two sources. The first being an accepted covenant of mutual respect between teacher and student. This course, being 300 level, grants the students a bit more of an understood freedom. It says that you are more adult and learned, and thus we are closer to equals than in an introductory course. The second source of this inner confidence could be entirely internal. Moses could just have a strong sense of self, and believes that his opinion should be heard and he has the strong sense of self-disclosure to state it without remorse. Besides Moses’ direct commentary on the class structure, he does try to establish a diplomatic role, as well. I think it is important that as a group, we remember that we have a task at hand to accomplish, and whether we like it or not, our grades depend on it… We need to take the majority and roll with it.He is, once again, trying establish a leadership type role in this course. After all is said and done with his personal feelings, he decides that he needs to reel back in the group and take the initiative.


One thing to remember about a person that wants the limelight of a leadership role is that he will do anything to attain your attention to a matter. The realm of possibilities are really unlimited, but some of the more realistic tactics include, but are not limited to: severe hyperbole, repeating themselves or calling attention to something that he said earlier, and relating current issue to more mundane situations that everyone (the peons) can relate. Well, if we skip ahead a couple of posts to March 31’s post, Building on success: a 3D puzzle, let us analyze some of what Moses says: “Splitting up in to groups sounds like the best idea we’ve had so far… Like I stated before we need to get the ides flowing… It is kinda like when you write a paper, you usually write the intro and the title AFTER you’ve written the body and conclusion. The BEST IDEA? Hyperbole. Like you stated before? Calling attention to a previous dialogue. Like writing a paper? A mundane situation that everyone can understand.


Up until this point in the class, almost a full three months in, we have just been inferring about Moses’ role and identity. We have talked about how he wants to be seen, and the steps that he is taking to accomplish this. Well now we get the opportunity to see if what he has done has worked in his favor or not.


In Steph’s post entitled reminder: After Dachau, the students post comments about how the wiki presentations were perceived, and more importantly, how their own perceptions of other classmates. The first person to comment on Moses84 is ap1115 (now referred to as “AP”). AP’s perception of Moses is that he is the “evaluator critic” of the class. What this is referring to is that Moses “ ‘may evaluate the practicality…of some unit of group discussion.’ (p.55) [AP] thinks that here Moses is “questioning” the practicality of not knowing what is going on in class.” AP also says that this defined role for Moses is one where the member will “attack the designated leadership, the general leadership here being the professors teaching format.” To give my opinion on what AP has just said, I believe that Moses is not just attacking the leadership, but also making an attempt to gain leadership. In order to become king, you must kill the king, right? The other person to comment about Moses’ functional role is Getoutakingshous (now referred to as “GOAKH”). GOAKH has decided to depict Moses as the “group observer and commentator.” Apparently GOAKH thinks that Moses “keeps records of various aspects of group process and feeds such data with proposed interpretations into the group’s evaluation of its own procedures.” This idea can definitely fit into Moses’ self-defined role of leader – as we know a leader has many different purposes, one of which may be interpretation. Moses’ out-spoken nature has given others the idea that he is interpreting the data that he has “inhaled” throughout the course.


Moses has now read his colleagues’ comments about who they think he is. Here is the thing about Moses’ situation. He has been the out-spoken leader, in his own right, throughout the entirety of this class. When it comes to leadership, there are two ways to obtain it – by want or by chance. If you want to be a leader, you will for it and make your case. If a group needs a leader and no one will step up, usually the worst candidates are eliminated and whoever stands at the end is picked. In Moses’ case, the former is the reasoning for his leadership duties. Moses has wanted to be a leader since the beginning of this class. This being the state of affairs, Moses has become self-actualized by his acceptance as a leader by his classmates and their evaluations. Thus, there is no tension created for this role in terms of having to fight to be a leader. However, the tension that IS created is the perpetuation of said role. It is one thing to fight for a role, but if once you achieve said role, do you falter? Does John McCain run for President, but then once he is in office does he just sit on his butt and not do anything? (Please spare your political comments…)


In Moses’ final post that will contribute to the course content and structure in Steph’s blog, When confusion is the condition, Moses stands firm his ground in his role of questioning authority as an attempt to gain a bigger piece of the power pie (please excuse the alliteration). “Here is my main concern. I feel like there is a master plan for this wiki that we are not aware of. I say this because, for our page, we are being asked to address specific points… If our class’s Wiki was to be self-reflexive and analyze the process, why wasn’t this outlined from the beginning? What else is in store?” Bear in mind that this question is asked with about half a month to go in the course. He asks this question as if in the last 15 days of the semester that a bomb will be dropped on the class. It is clear, based on this time frame, that Moses is trying to get a rise out of someone –either the class or the professor. He is trying to stir up conversation to continue his dominance as a leader.


As I stated earlier, Moses faced no external tension in his role definition. All of the tension put on Moses was self-inflicted. By his want and need to be a leader in this class, he forced himself to struggle to become a leader. Looking back on all his posts, his arguments were only agreed upon 5 times. He made 12 posts throughout the course of this class, and he was only directed referenced, in a positive light, five times (three occurrences happened on the first post of the year). For someone like him, who is recognition hungry, it must have made him feel inadequate and increase his drive for positive feedback as leader. Once ap1115 and getoutakingshous gave credit to Moses for his leadership activities, the self-tension was broken, and all that was left to focus on was his ability to retain his role.


Example 3: Professor “Steph” (written by DeliverMeSummer)


A principle example of tensionality and role development can be illustrated through Steph’s position as interlocuter and teacher. This is an interesting example to study because there are many variables that contribute to the development and expectation of this particular role. For example, Steph is the course’s instructor – and with that comes a specific set of expectations (both goals that Steph has for the direction of the class, and her students’ expectations of her role as teacher). For instance, Steph’s role as “teacher” may appear to set the expectation that she be addressed as “Ms. Kent” or “Professor Kent” (simply because that is the social expectation of student-teacher communication – as evidenced by the way myself, Memphisburns, and others initially addressed Steph). However, Steph continued to refer to herself as such and students followed the examples of other students (addressing Steph as “Steph”) therefore breaking through this expectation. This illustrates how the “tension” that may be created in interpersonal relationships can be overcome – Steph “stood up to” her expectations (or the role that she had defined for herself), and as a result, a new role definition of “teacher” prevailed in the group. At the same time, Steph didn’t correct the students when they addressed her as “Ms. Kent,” suggesting that she was willing to “let others happen to” her, to a certain extent. This, again, supports the argument that “tensionality” can be visualized as a sliding scale – some give-and-take may be required from both sides to reach a happy medium (and, perhaps, resolve conflicted role definitions).


In her “Group Dynamics” class, one of Steph’s first blog posts actively “nexts” and lays the groundwork for the discussion that follows. She prompts, “There are so many ideas for what you, COM352, can do with the Course Wiki. I have posted several that I hope nudge your inspiration…” Right off the bat, Steph creates tension in her defined role as teacher – she places some of responsibility for the direction of the class into the hands of her students. I say “tension” because she is breaking out of the traditional role of teacher (or, that the students may hold the expectation that the teacher will dictate to them what they need to do or will discuss for the class). Also in the process, she may have experienced some resistance from her students (creating additional tension). Indeed, Aligirl22 expresses this discomfort in her comment, stating, “…am used to the teacher making the decisions not the students.” In order to resolve this apparent conflict in role definition and expectation, Aligirl22 had to accept the responsibility that was being placed upon her, and Steph (“holding her own”) had to be patient and understand that it may take some time to fulfill the tasks of this new role.


Furthermore, Steph’s ability to “next” the class from one discussion to another places her in an interesting position of power. Yes, she may be trying to get away from the traditional role of teacher and open the direction of class dialogue to the students. Ultimately, however, she is the facilitator of the class and has the “power” (and background knowledge) to influence the direction of class discussion. She realizes this “power” when she states,  “What I mean is, I want to share my perceptions in terms of how particular witnessed behaviors/patterns ‘fit’ particular types of theoretical categories, but I don’t want to skew their visioning in the direction of satisfying me just ’cause I’m the teacher” (What are you/we going to produce?). This point comes across in one of the activities that the “Group Dynamics” class performed. Steph had the students take a survey about her personality – and she posted her analysis of the results under Johari Window Results (as mentioned in the Functional Roles blog entry). Steph commented, “…for instance, take the label I gave myself and nearly half of you confirmed…” suggesting that her students successfully picked up on a handful of attributes that encompass her “role” that she, herself, created. While this may not solve the-chicken-or-the-egg conundrum, it highlights an important point. Moreover, Steph remarks, “Interesting, I think I’m powerful (!) and none you rated that for me at all.” This is where the argument for tensionality in role development falls into place. Steph’s belief that she is “powerful” (as mentioned above) coupled with the realization that others may think that she is not may force her to rethink how she conveys this power to others (or reaffirm that she has been successful in maintaining an open and uninfluenced class discussion). At the same time, her students, knowing that she beliefs herself to be powerful, may interpret interactions and communications different. Thus, this example serves to illustrate this push and pull (and everchanging) dynamic of tensionality.


Example 4: DeliverMeSummer (written by herself)

As with many concepts studied in this course, we create our “selves” – develop our roles and experience tensionality – constantly, whether aware of it or not. My “wake-up” call to this constant activity occurred while reading his “Great Debates” blog post, when Johnniedramadescribed the fellow members of his team. I was surprised, initially, because I found it quite remarkable that Johnniedrama could successfully describe my personality (with having only very limited conversations with me – in cyberspace nonetheless). I also added in my response to his comment that his description lined up very close to my Myers-Briggs personality type (INTJ – introversion, intuition, thinking, judging). This “self” that I had subconsciously “created” – through choice interactions with others, messages and responses posted to class discussions, etc – appeared to align with my personality.

What I find to be interesting (and that follows up on what Steph had her Comm352 class complete) is this idea of asking others about their perceptions of you and comparing their perceptions to 1) your own perception of your “self” and personality, and 2) an outside (survey, or the like) unbiased third party review. I believe this to be relevant to the idea of role definition, creation of self, and tensionality because it provides a foundation for the existence of said tensionality in role and development of the self (and how we convey that “self” to others). For instance, my very first blog entry as DeliverMeSummer helped to define my role in this class (which makes a fair amount of sense, as we argue that in every instance of communication we are creating and defining our “selves”). In this entry, I describe my role as a nurse – a role that I believe to be fluid within itself. To clarify, it is my belief that I have the ability to become a good nurse because I can perceive how a patient needs me to function in order to feel most at ease or comfortable in their situation. For example, I took care of a woman in labor who was extremely nervous and very hesitant about the labor process. When she began to push, I adjusted my approach (or my “role” towards her in this situation) away from the “cheerleaders-let’s-have-a-baby” coaching method to a very subdued, relaxed, and focused attitude.

An interesting point to note, however, involves the idea of consequentiality (and subsequently, tensionality). First, I have to ask myself, “Is this “self” that I’ve created a result of knowing the results to my personality test?” And then, at the time of taking the personality test for the first time, “Did my answers to the questions and results reflect my true personality?” Both are important questions to consider in discussing the role that tensionality plays in role development. This is discussed in greater detail in DeliverMeSummer’s post It’s Time, Ready, Set, Debate. Yet another interesting observation to note about this entry is how it fulfills the perceived role of DeliverMeSummer in Johnniedrama’s description of the various personalities in the group. I believe (and I can say this because I am DeliverMeSummer) that I would have posted an entry very similar to this one regardless of whether I had read Johnniedrama’s post about my role. In that sense, I would certainly be “standing my own” rather than “letting other happen to” me. At the same time, I remarked in one of my comments, “So, now I’m taking Johnnie’s, Topofthemorning’s, and my own suggestions into consideration – and disclosing this experience (that otherwise, would remain unknown to the rest of my group!).” This statement would indicate that I’m “letting others happen to” me. Because it is in conflict with the previous statement (and by that, I mean the two infringe upon each other), it can be described as tensionality. It is this push and pull between two competing forces that facilitate tensionality in role development.

Example 5: Ehanft (written by Beaver32)


I will be doing my observation on ehanft I choose to do this person because they were one of the first people to reply to steph blog and they quoted on of their classmates right away so it showed this person was able to connect with other people pretty good. In ehanft post he quotes veterbalsilence .“I like what vertebralsilence says about focusing our efforts locally as opposed to globally.”


This show that this person already some good IPC skills where they can relate off of other people wrtitg with out even knowing them. Step blog was called time decided what you will create which you can find at.

Each member of the class had to pick something they would like to create ehanft idea what he wanted to create was.

“I think that by creating something appealing to the UMass general student body, we will create something that might make an impact.”


Ehanft shows great leader skills he has thought of a way to bring people together as a whole. He talks about how “where people com together from different disciplines, it may be possible given makeup for our class to create a collaboration of experiences here art umass that form a cohesive gudie.”


Ehanft is trying to fix a global problem already by trying to connect people from different backgrounds. That one of the biggest issues here in the world people from different countries have such a hard time communicating with each other because no one wants to be wrong or give up their beliefs on issues that why there is war now.


In bridges not walls Daniel Goleman would catoragized Ehanft as a leader. Goleman says the “essential skills of the leader , this involves initiating and coordinating the efforts of a network of people. This is the talent seen in theater directors or producers, in military officers, and effective heads of organizations and units of all kinds. On the playground, this is the child who takes the lead in deciding what everyone will play, or becomes team captain. “(p75) Ehanft presented these skills right away in his first post to step blog he wanted everyone know he’s a very out going person and aware of some of the big problems of dialogue.


Example 6: Vert (written by CommSyr)

The Group Dynamics class member I chose to observe is vertebralsilence, whom I will refer to as “Vert.”


As the class began Vert was the fourth class member to post. She immediately eradicated the idea of the class doing something “epic,” and without almost any consideration labeled it as impractical and useless. Thus, she became the pioneer of the “Guide to Surviving UMASS” wiki page, something local that would spark interest in all class members, something that is small enough to tackle, but big enough to make some impact.


Almost every poster to follow agreed with Vert’s idea. Freshkick’s says, “I also very much agree with vertebralsilence , in their comment. While it is important for all of us to be aware of what is happening in the world, it seems more effective, rewarding and possible to make a difference locally. I am however still interested in having a global section on the page, maybe a smaller section just updating on important international events/situations.” Ontherecliner approves, “I also think the Surviving Umass idea was a good idea because it is practical and I feel very doable. Like Vertebra said, I don’t think it would be a good idea to take on too large a challenge considering our experience and time frame. I think doing something around here would be the most beneficial and practical.” Ch0c0latemilk who agrees with addressing “hot topics,” also agrees with Vert’s idea of prioritizing their goals to be centered around their school. And while Thumpasorus differs on the survival guide idea, he also believes staying local will yield the most success.


Even with so much acclaim, Vert doesn’t respond to her responders but instead decides to attack Steph on her “poor choice of putting a ‘seemingly important concept and link at the very bottom of a post that has several comments.’” Vert’s tone is angry (not always necessary) and assertive which makes me believe that she is one to not only stand up for herself but also engage in a lot of IPC. She asks questions, calls people out, states her ideas, and is unafraid to speak her mind. Or so we think.


Just through the first set of posts, Vert established herself as an innovator and a leader. What surprised me however, was Vert’s lack of a response to all of her acclaim. Thump just crushed your idea of the Umass survival guide and you have nothing to say. Thump mentions Umass as being too diverse for something like this, what is your “rebuttal?” This is an example of where Thump “listened” to Vert’s idea and “nexted” her with a new one. Can they “inhale” both of their various opinions and collaborate together on their ideas? Well, we need some IPC for that.


In Steph’s post “What are you/we going to produce,” class members were asked to read an article and define what stage they were currently in. The majority of the class agreed that in terms of progress the class was “stuck” in “stage II Storming/Adolescence.”  Vert mentions that the amount of commotion – specifically yelling in the class made her uncomfortable and nervous which is “not her style.” My problem with this post is, she does not “next,” anyone. A lot of people ruminate as to WHY the class is stuck in this phase. Summer22 blames Steph teaching style (I don’t mean that in a negative way.” Sunshine775 thinks it has to do with the amount of strong personalities fighting to be the leader. Vert unfortunately doesn’t hypothesize about why the class is in stage II, doesn’t give insight as to how to move on to stage III, doesn’t reference any particular class members, just simply says “I agree with the assessments of other students…” Did the last class’s conflicts make her so nervous she has stepped down from her leadership throne?


Vert missed the next class but still responds to Consistency and Consensus to discuss that in the previous “emotionally charged class” she felt “personally attacked by Steph.” Throughout the majority of the post Vert is essentially yelling at our dear Steph over what to me seems like a simple miscommunication. Where are the interpersonal communication skills?! This is perfect example of where sizing up the situation, the person and listening (not hearing) to what they have to say while considering all other factors would have been helpful. Towards the end of her post, Vert beings to do just this – “At the time I felt that steph’s frustration was with her inability to ‘manipulate the outcome in the direction that [she] want[ed]’ I was very concerned that, as a proponent of an idea she wasn’t fond of, she would take a personal dislike to me.”  Now that the metaphorical dust has settled I see that this was probably an irrational fear, I don’t think steph would dislike me just for my role in her frustration.” She continues on to say that situation erupted and prompted irrational actions and thus irrational fears because class order and structure was lost. She concludes by saying the group seems less tense and she is happy on the class’s progress.


My suggestion to Vert would be not to jump to conclusions. She is (what seems to me) trying to “next” with Steph but has not listened, considered the consequentiality of the communication that transpired in the previous class, and did not next effectively. Although she ended on a positive note she spent way too much time negatively expressing her opinions on Steph’s actions without considering the meanings behind them. She was holding her own ground without allowing the other to happen to her. Also, she has still neglected to correspond with classmates.


The next task Steph assigned to the class was in a response to “Why are you Writing Sideways,” where students were asked to “combine the key elements of this post with the important terms of your own and your peer’s individual proposals for the coursewiki.” When arriving upon Vert’s weblog, I was anxious – is Vert going to attack her course mates? Is she going to focus on her own personal proposals without referencing her classmates much? Is she going to unleash on Steph again?!


Anyway, she did none of the above. Vert finally began to communicate through a somewhat dialogue. She starts by nexting Abccccc asking if he/she would like to conduct an “about us” section of the coursewiki. She continues on to ask Freshkicks if this would fulfill her original idea. She relates to Aligirl since both are transfers and questions why Summer22 is the most referenced as well as addressing her wonder of the mysterious number “22” in the classmates blogname. Throughout the post she points out what she finds interesting in that particular person’s proposal while asking some pertinent questions and mentioning in what way she relates. However, through an IPC point-of-view it might have been more beneficial, for instance, to say/next “Bradytomoss is interested in sports and I am curious to find out why or what sort of information he/she has can contribute to the coursewiki,” instead of just saying “Bradytomoss is interested in sports.” This process would allow Vert to understand what the author was conveying as opposed to what she interpreted from what they said. Still, progress is evidently being made. These are the building blocks of the consequentiality of communication that Sigman discusses. Now that both parties have established their ideas, beliefs, interests, similarities, etc, they can go on to have a deeper, more meaningful dialogue.


In a response to “Can we articulate the frame(s) emergent in our interaction?” Aligirl22 notes her interests in combining Vert’s idea of making a street video with Summer22’s idea of dedicating a portion of the wiki to campus activities. Aligirl feels as though this would combine both art and knowledge. Her “next” encouraged Vert to respond, saying that she is also into art and knowledge. Vert acknowledges the themes that stood out most her, furthering the “next” to her classmates. She clarifies the question at hand with a suggestion – “maybe we should split up into groups based on content themes and then in those groups talk about process.” She ends her post by recognizing others may not agree but offers that this could be a potential method to use. This leaves the conversation open – allowing classmates to respond freely with more suggestions, questions, agreements, or disagreements. Definitely a step towards more positive IPC for Vert!



Vert continues to contribute more beneficial ideas in “Building on success: a 3d puzzle.” Instead of starting off with her idea however she acknowledges the constructive suggestions her classmates have made. It would have been more useful (from IPC perspective) to point out which suggestions she found most appealing and referencing her classmates – opening up a dialogue between them in which idea can be further clarified, discussed, or created. Regardless, Vert does ask a number of helpful questions throughout the post and at the end recommends putting “ideas into a preexisting resources that already has some sort of audience and frame.” Aligirl22 agrees, “Vertabralsilence, makes a good point that the Wiki already has a section on Restaurants, clubs etc…Maybe we could expand on these if some of the areas resources are not already covered on the Wiki?” Unfortunately, Vert does not respond to Aligirl’s display of interest. Maybe they reviewed this idea in class? I would hope so since Aligirl and Vert seemed to be on the same page and have been participating in a sort of dialogue.


The most progress is seen in Vert’s post to “reminder: After Dachau,” where she reviews a number of classmates and comments on the roles they have played in the wiki project. She starts by disagreeing with the role Buckets34 was given as the “individual-centered” and instead, based on supporting evidence believes he/she is the encourager. She praises him/her on also being an energizer and opinion giver. She moves onto Thump, also commending him/her on taking on many roles such as the follower, information-seeker, harmonizer and opinion giver. Lastly Very chooses Summer22 (with whom she had correspondence with earlier in the class) “Summer22’s who I felt played multiple roles including Orienter, Encourager, Standard setter/ego ideal, Information giver, and Group-observer and commentator.”


The big difference that has emerged in Vert’s IPC style and dynamic is her ability to “step down” so to speak. In the beginning Vert maintained an authoritarian, leader-like stance in the class. As mentioned before, she was the originator of the “Umass Survival Guide” concept. From her postings and blog entries, one can tell Very was sort of self-centered and not so open to hearing various suggestions but instead adamant on giving her own. When class members agreed or disagreed there was no evidence of a response. As class progressed we see Vert stepping down and attempting to understand her peers. Instead of being the “know-it-all” who lashed out (at Steph!) when her ideas were somewhat discredited (in class) she slowly became the active listener, avid contributor, friendly collaborator, and overall improved communicator. Nicely done Vert!

Fires Inside Enlighten Readers – Communcation Exhilirates

“Sometimes I find myself agreeing with people just because I don’t want to fight. This not a good thing because nothing is gained for either party”   – OuterBodyBoi

In OuterBodyBoi’s initial postings about Susan Scott’s article, it appeared as if he was trying to make everyone happy – first he said he agrees too much, then he was too aggressive, and lastly he split the difference and said he was both. (Poignant, huh?) It appears that OuterBodyBoi still has the decency in him to be overly polite, despite all this time passing and all this discussion of assertion and standing up for oneself. Even when he tried to make a solid point, he needs to implant an emotional softener weakly at the end: “For instance, on the bus people won’t get up for elderly people as much as they used to (in my opinion).” In my opinion???? Of course it’s your opinion, that’s why you said it! Say it loud and say it proud, brother!

So I am telling OuterBodyBoi that he should make up his mind – well let’s explore his options. Well for one, there is the not-so-fierce side, kind of like DeliverMeSummer. DMS, in her writing, is very powerful, and according to Scott’s article, expresses herself fiercely. This is only in her writing, though. (While this may be straying a bit from the scope of just her Unit 7 discussion, it is pertinent, nonetheless). In DMS’s converations and direct person-to-person communications, whether through her weblog posts or via the course discussion boards or by commenting on other public pages, it appears that she does not use her inner fierceness in her dialogues. I have had some personal experince with this – I am an ideas man, and have no problem spouting whatever idea is in the forefront of my mind. I am basically filterless, and I need others to moderate my thoughts. DeliverMeSummer, however, has shown that while she may always try to provide constructive criticism, she cannot muster up the brutal rejections in order to parse my flurry of ideas – not yet at least, but my fingers are crossed…

On the other end of the spectrum, enters Masr. He must live by his own credo: “You’re [sic] demeanor can easily give away the level of confidence you have in your conversation…” Masr also says that “sometimes [he] can be too honest.” I believe the emphasis falls solely on the word “too.” I am the same way, and it shows up in the way I write my posts (see above… wink wink). But by the looks of it, it appears that Masr writes the same way that I do – like our thoughts are pouring out like their desire for being put onto paper is similar to that of the thirst you feel after trodding through the desert and would practically kill for water… err where was I? Oh right, we have intense ideas/thoughts. He write down a straightforward and to-the-point bulletted list of all the points that he wants to get across to his audience. Furthermore, he leaves his topics in list form when he posts his discussion thread, simply increasing the emphasis that he is speaking with. Masr may think that he is being too aggressive, but rather he is just strong-minded and a fierce communicator.

Talk about Tension – or is this another conspiracy?

Stewart and Zediker’s article about “Dialogue’s Basic Tension” is almost a response to some of the blog postings that we have all made a couple topics back. As I have stated in an earlier comment on Steph’s blog about Nexting and being nexted, I feel that there is a mysterious conspiracy going on within this class. I mean, I guess that it makes sense – Steph is the instructor and we are the instructees – that everything we do in this class should all tie together. But I do get this strange feel that Steph is playing coy with us, and seemingly happens to be making these deeper connections by accident.

Stewart and Zediker make a distinction between “dialogue” and “monologue.” To give a basic synopsis, “dialogue” is the proper practice of communication where one person speaks, the other listens and responds accordingly (aka Nexting). Whereas a “monologue,” which is widely observed as one person speaking alone, can also be seen as two people speaking to one another, but without the feature of “nexting.” (ie Person 2’s response to Person 1’s communication is not furthering the conversation that Person 1 started, but rather just stating and idea that Person 2 has regardless of what Person 1 just said.)

To be prepare oneself for working in a group, each member should know, or at least try to assume, some of the other member’s tensions. Beaver32 is a true team player in his world, but in this setting he has tension between openness and self-disclosure – not his own, but the others around him. He wants the team to be open with each other and be able to disclose information and opinions without bias or anxiety. He says that “as a group we all could talk about what our thoughts on [the] definition about openness are. [sic]” He then goes on to say that “self disclosure would be another big thing the group would have to do so we would be able to communicate with each other better.” It is clear that he wants to be able to affect others, while having others affect him, as well.

For our fearless leader/moderator (see my post Great Debates…) Delivermesummer, it appears, based on inference, that she has had some less-than-stellar experiences with group work before. She wants the group to function just as that, a cohesive collection of people – rather than five individuals simply giving input to an idea that later on one or two people will need to sort through, thus completing the work. “We must all actively pay attention to what one another is saying. Only then will we have the knowledge and intent to respond and allow “nexting” to occur.”

For our Euro-colleague, Topothemorn, he is concerned over the flow of communication. He says that “group work has everything to do with good communication,” but beyond that “group work involves learning from each other not tell [sic] other people what to [do].” He tries to emphasize his point about the importance of communication: “Many of the exercises we have done have helped to open the communication. Working online can be hard in some cases because ideas can be lost…” He knows that we, as a group that is separated by, not just miles, but an entire ocean, need to be able to fully express our thoughts without any loss of weight or emotion just because our medium of communication is different than normal.

What’s most important about all this talk of tensions in the group, teammate profiling, and communication about OUR COMMUNICATION, is that we, as a group, are being open with each other. (Going back to the conspiracy theory) Steph, through the use of “required assignments,” has just been preparing us for the group project. She has given us a means to be open, use self-disclosure and assertiveness, and express our true feelings about one another under the guise of “homework.” When we read these blogs about us, we do not take to heart what other people are saying about us – at least I know that I don’t. Rather, we read the comments, and use that information to our individual advantage to better the group. Now honestly, would any of us have done this on our own if we hadn’t been assigned by Steph to do it???

Great Debates lead to the Greatest Ideas

This is a roll call of who is currently on my team, and its a frank and honest synopsis of what I think of each. Granted, these determinations are being made on flash judgments, so please don’t hold anything against me for what I am about to say…

DeliverMeSummer is going to be the de facto leader and impartial moderator of the group. Based on what she has written about nexting and exhaling, one can see that she puts the “group dynamic” in the forefront of all her topics –

  • “Achieving this balance [between passivity and aggression to promote equality]”
  • “Consensual validation”
  • “An environment that allows for mutual respect”

These are just some tidbits of what she discussed when waxing about the articles from the textbook. Delivermesummer, while an idealist, is also a realist. She understands the human nature undlying group work, especially when it comes to a graded assignment as significant as a midterm. She sees the underbelly of cooperation to be the turmoil of conflict. She anticipates the darkness and spearheads it with the suggestion to “be honest about how different reactions or comments make us feel (especially in areas of conflict).” Furthermore, she assumes the role of counselor when she advises that “our reactions to each other should remain respectful and constructive.”

Topothemorn is another “third-person ominicient” in this talented group, but I like to think of Top as more of a savant than an innocent by-stander. I have a sneaking suspicion that Top is going to be the big-thinker who can connect everything (and everyone) back to ground zero.

Top has overarching ideas and commentaries that can make us, as a group, stop focussing on the minutia and begin to concentrate on the long-term goals. If you read his comment, it’s plain to see where he stands in a conversation –

Listening can be more important than throwing out your own ideas…

He is directly above the middle of the conversation. What I mean by that, is that Top is indirectly involved in the communication process through inhalation. While two or three of us may exhale an equal amount that we inhale, Top will inhale two or three times as much as he exhales – thus creating more profound and outward-looking ideas.

At this point, I am sure that you are thinking, why is this blog titled regarding debates? Well up until this point we have only been covering the third parties. Now enters the pro/antagonist…

Commsyr09 is going to be my argumentative counterpart in the grand scheme of this group project. Bear in mind, these are going to be constructive assertions made by each of us, but I feel that this is the channel where the most debate and “conflict” might come from. I say “conflict” with the quotation marks because it won’t be conflict in the sense that we are going to be attacking each other, but rather clashing of ideas in a manner that, with the help of other “moderators,” will create a perfect harmony that can be agreed upon by all.

Commsyr says that she is “very empathetic but [she is] always extremely bothered when others pretend to exude emotions they do not feel.” My response to her comment? – “To be honest, I find it very hard to be artificially empathetic. I really only express TRUE emotions. The hardest time that I have is when someone that I barely know tells me something that I should be empathetic about (marriage, death, disease etc).” I think that each of us, both as strong-minded thinkers, is going to create thought-provoking proposals that the other is going to have strong feelings about. That is the basis behind my depiction of Commsyr09.

Beaver32, being the basketball player that he is, is the point guard of our team. Beaver is the Chris Paul of the group project think-tank. Looking at Beaver’s comment on the nexting blog gives each of us insight into his team-building skills, probably solidified by his years as a member of a sports team. He knows that openness and comfort (in terms of self-disclosure) are valued aspects to teamwork, and he wants to exploit these attributes and strengthen out team mentality. “As a group we all could talk about what our thoughts on [Johnson’s] definition about openness are because that’s what the article [“Being open with and to other people”] is mostly about. Everything else Johnson talks about in the article ties in with openness so we all need to have a true meaning on what openness really is.” It’s quite poignant that a basketball team has five players on the court, and our team has five members, each with his own role.

Finally, me, Mr johnniedrama. Well to be honest, I am an amalgamation of my partners. I like to have some sort of balance and harmony in the group – that is the part of me like DeliverMeSummer. I am usually an “ideas man” that likes to make his point known, and likes to contribute to group thoughts and undertakings – can somebody say Commsyr09? However, I know that I am not always going to be right, or even heard, and I know that in those situations that I need to be an avid listener/inhaler – my inner Topothemorn still might shine through it all… And I always like to open up the floor to all members so that everyone’s voice can be heard – if you want, I can come off the bench to substitute the playmaking for Beaver32.

Now as I said, all of these flash judgments are just that, flashes. Obviously these might not be the correct assumptions about each of my colleagues, but its what I can best decipher from the links that I have provided.

The Beautiful Game

Football; Futbol; Soccer; many names for the same game. The “beautiful game,” a surname for the aforementioned sport, is a bit of a silent passion of mine. The sport is a dichotomy, a paradox, an irony that is hidden to the American public by prejudice and lack of intrigue. Soccer is a game defined by, not only a team’s skill, but by its perseverance mixed in with a little bit of luck.

If you watch a game of soccer, you will see what appears to be a ball being aimlessly knocked around the field, and then a couple times the crowd gets into a bit of an uproar as the ball nears one goal or the other, and then maybe, if you happen to be watching at the right time, the ball will go in. But what you are really watching is a ball being CAREFULLY knocked around the field in order to get defenders out of place, and then after a risky pass turns into an opening for the team on offense the crowd will begin to swell, and then the player who has this opening on goal can take advantage of his great positioning coupled with the luck required to make sure that the ball actually made it to his feet and this player can take a shot on goal, and MAYBE, if the player has struck the ball pure and aimed for the correct spot and caught the goalie out of position and the goalie is just a split-second behind on his save attempt and no one blocks the flight path of the ball, the miraculous slurry of events will harmonize and equate into a goal. More than half of the time, however, this is not what happens.

Soccer is a tug-o-war between two teams, and the rope is these special moments where mystique and wonder occur. How can you not love that?

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