In the course of my research for Interpersonal Communication I interviewed 3 men and 2 women. One man and one woman was over the age of 45. The rest were in their 30’s. I will post each question and summarize what the consensus had to say.
1. In your opinion, what is the key to effective communication?
In this first question, I found an interesting trend. The older people leaned more towards “Effective Listening skills” as the primary key, while the younger generation felt having a mutual understanding of the topic at hand was more important. Examples given were being on the same level intellectually speaking and vocabulary-wise. I feel that if your listening skills are honed, that allows you to understand what the other person is talking about much better than just trying to express yourself in the most effective way.
2. Why do people have trouble understanding each other?
This question was more unilaterally answered. Most of my subjects agreed that people do not listen to each other. Sometimes they have their own agenda or semantics get in the way. One subject, however, felt that intelligence and language barriers cause more problems. That does tie into semantics, though.
3. To be a better listener, I need to improve on _____________
Subject 1: Patience. Subject 2: Focusing. Making time to listen. Subject 3: Being “with” the other person while they are talking. Subject 4: My own biases and prejudices. Subject 5: Not letting my defense mechanisms get in the way.
I feel all of these tie together in important ways. Someone’s biases and prejudices and trigger defense mechanisms and harder to be patient with the other person which makes it hard to focus and be “with” the other person while they are talking.
4. What is passive/aggressive behavior?
Each subject had a different view on what passive-aggressive behavior is. One felt it involved deliberately manipulating conversations to make the other person do what you want them to without directly asking them to. One felt it involved being mean to someone behind their back. Having difficulty confronting someone with your anger was a common theme. I think that many of them had a good idea of what passive-aggressive behavior is. Not confronting a person who has upset you in some way and instead trying to hurt them subvertively is a basic definition from what I have gathered. As one subject said, “Unvocalized frustration acted out.”
5. How would you define or explain “crazy-making” in communicaton?
One of the best description I received in my research was “deliberately pushing someone’s buttons”. That just hits it right on the nose. Sometimes this results in communication disconnections and there is no way to continue a discussion with someone. It is all part of indirectly attacking someone. An example would be to compliment someone but in actuality it comes across as an insult.
6. How did you resolve your last conflict?
Many of my subjects understood that in order to resolve conflicts, you have to work out difficulties with the other person. You have to come to a mutual understanding, talk things out, and bring issues to the surface to be dealt with. However, if the other person is not able to come up to your level, or refuses to even meet you half-way, you must take drastic measures. One person had to go to a supervisor for aid. One person had to completely write-off the relationship and tell the other person goodbye because they wouldn’t respond to her in any way or answer her concerns. Unfortunately, one person was the difficult party and ran away from the conflict. That happens far too often in my opinion. If it may cause too much pain, the person avoids confrontation, which doesn’t help anything and usually makes things worse.
7. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your communicaton skills?
I was very happy to say that the majority of my subjects reported a range of 8-10. The subject who ran away from conflict rated himself a 6.