Thursday, September 27, 2012

Communicative Analysis

Patrick Dobson

 My day of conversational analysis provided me with a greater understanding of interpersonal communication. Specifically, I learned how influencial clothing, facial ques, and body movement are in the communication process; and was most intrigued with the effects of technological communication on interpersonal communication. A better understanding of this process has provided me with methods of improving my own communication style which will surely lead to more fullfilling interactions and relationships.
I did my analysis Sunday the 23rd. This was the perfect day for this because I was free of any major obligations. I started the day with a potluck at the meditation center, then spent most of the day shopping for winter clothes. I noticed the people at the meditation potluck were wearing loose, yet comfortable clothing. One man was even wearing a suit which appeared at least two sizes too large for him. Many of the dress' the women wore were rather plain in design. Many of the men wore relaxed-fitting jeans and plain polo shirts. My analysis of their clothing revealed that these were people are more concerned with functionality, rather than aestetics. They wanted the ability to move more freely and weren't too ocupied with impressing others with a strong fashion sense. I believe this style to be very approachable to others. Although not entirely correct, I think many assume that people concerned with “high fashion” are arrogant and vain individuals. So by selecting plain and comfortable clothing they are attempting to create an image antithetical to the fashion seeker: I am humble and nonjudging. By noticing this I realized that personal style-not just fashion-forward style- is a choice, determined by personal beliefs, experience, and what message the person is attempting to send to others.
While exploring the Towson mall with my roomate, we encountered a myriad of styles and nonverbal messages. Here I was able to realize the power of nonverbal ques and that initial judgements of character by these ques are not allways accurate. For example, I noticed people walking upright and others slouching. Those who walked upright presented confidence and a more inviting persona, while those who walked with their head down, with a slouching posture, appeared less approachable and attractive. People who slouched also appeared less noticeable to those around them. Then I began to notice my own slouching. Being tall, keeping an upright posture throughout the day is sometimes difficult, so I began making the effort to walk with good posture. I noticed how people alter their communication, depending on who they were with. For example, employees speaking with customers were much more formal than friends talking amongst themselves. Later when waiting in line for Coffee, I took notice to the person in front of me. His arms and legs were covered in tatoos and his septum was pierced. By his physical appearance I initially imagined him hoping to cast a “keep away/wasted youth” image onto those around him and jumped to the conclusion of an equally less attractive personality. Even at the time his facial expression appeared offputting to me. However, to my surprise, after collecting his coffee he returned to his table with (who appeared to be) his family. There I noticed him lauphing with, and enjoying the company of his family, and I realized my initial interpretation was incorrect. What I took from this was the importannce of body language and clothing selection, and how these affect the worlds interpretation of me. More importantly I learned you can't allways judge a book by its cover.
What amazed me most was the effects of technological methods of communication. More specifically, how my cell phone seemed to hinder my interpersonal skills. Throughout the day I took notice of how I communicated with others face to face, versus phone, text, email, and Facebook. Face to face contact definitely offered better clarity and understanding. This was because I was able to take facial ques from the message sender. Through the phone I was lacking understanding. This doesn't mean I was completely lost in our conversation, but I realized I tend to imagine the other person's facial ques when talking over the phone-which can clearly lead to misunderstandings. Through text and Facebook, messages were much shorter and even more open to interpretation, or misjudgement. While there didn't happen to be any real issues this particular day, I can imagine times in the past where I had inproperly interepreted these messages. However, going without my cell phone for a couple hours was not a major problem for me. I walked with a friend to go grab lunch and I felt much less distracted, although a tad bit disconnected with friends and family back home. I did however find myself more engaging in conversation and even more interested in my friend than usual. This is not to say I am not interested in him, rather I felt more of a personal connection which prompted a more lively conversation. By not worrying about an expected call or text, I took more notice to my surroundings and the happenings of my friend. This lead to the realization of the paradox of cellphones: cellphones allow us to be more “connected” with others, while at the same time cause a “disconnect”. I believe this to be most significant because I can now see how cellphones can hinder communication and relationships as well.
My day of communicative self analysis was significant in many ones. It opened my eyes to the nonverbal aspects of communication, and the power they have on interpreters. It also allowed me to realize how cellphone usage can hinder interpersonal communication. Through this process I have learned that all people are constantly sending messages out to the world, so in order to create strong relationships, it is important to present yourself well, walk with good posture, don't jump to conclusions about unfamiliar personal styles, and perhaps most imporantly, keep the cellphone at home from time to time.  

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