Throughout the course of my college career (and it has been a long one, let me tell you), there have been very few classes where I didn’t feel like I was learning things that I would never again need in my adult life. Esconomics? Maybe. Physics? Definitely not. Astronomy and the Galaxy? Move over, SpaceX, I’m coming for you… Not. Thankfully, Communications has been a class that I genuinely learned useful information in and actually found out a few things about myself that I need to work on in the process. I’ve never claimed myself to be an expert communicator by any means, but I definitely realized that have some room for growth and improvement to become more effective.
Men VS Women. We all know that men and women have extremely different ways of communicating, but something in our lesson about gender roles in Chapter 3 honestly helped me with an issue I didn’t realize we had in my marriage! It was never a secret to me that my husband has never been much of a talker, frankly it is always a topic of discussion when we have arguments that he doesn’t share his feelings – but it never occurred to me that that’s how he was taught. As mentioned in our text, men are often “taught to keep their innermost thoughts to themselves,” whereas women are more prone to sharing their thoughts and feelings openly. This due to the Independence VS Intimacy differences – Sharing your inner thoughts is an intimate action and keeping to yourself is supposed to be an indicator of independence… Which would be fine if it wasn’t something my husband only decided to do when we’re sharing feelings – He is certainly not displaying these characteristics when he needs to schedule a doctors appointment or find something around the home… but I digress. (I’m also totally joking, I love my sweet husband very much – but he definitely has his less independent moments).
This lesson helped my understand the “science,” if you will, behind why my husband and I struggle to communicate at times (like literally everyone else) and ways around it to become more intentional with our words. I’m sure my husband wasn’t entirely thrilled with me using a textbook lesson to explain our communication problems, but eventually he will see the benefits! This lesson also made me realize that marriage counseling could be beneficial, even though we are wonderfully happy – every person within a marriage (or any relationship for that matter) has things they can work on to improve for each other.
Lifecycle of a Relationship. Saying this out loud, it sounds like this is something from a Biology class, but it boils down to the cycle with which we develop, grow and eventually, at times, terminate the relationships in our lives. In my 31 years, I’ve built many a friendship but have also seen some of those fall apart – this model actually helped me understand what happened in some of those friendships and made me realize that it likely wasn’t that I did something “wrong.” As a people pleaser, this is always something that has hung over me when I think about different friendships that fell apart and I always beat myself up that it MUST have been something I did or said to push them away – When in reality, as described in Knapp’s Relationship Termination Model from Chapter 8, it was probably just that the relationship grew stagnant and we grew apart. The amount of self-inflicted anxiety that this helped alleviate was significant for me… but then I started looking into my marriage and had a brief moment of panic like, “OH NO – what if we start going through THIS model!?” My poor husband, I’m sure you can tell I’m a very easy going person… lol!
Assertiveness. As soon as I opened this lesson, I thought to myself, “Okay – you’re going to nail this one. Assertive is your middle name.” Which I used to think was true, but now I think I may or may not be borderline abrasive, and this is definitely something I need to work on. Chapter 12 in our text and the accompanying links associated with this lesson had a lot of information that described how to be assertive, without also being disrespectful. I think there have been times, whether in my previous career or current, that I have been less assertive and more demanding which in turn, made me come off as abrasive (and I’m sure my former employees at times cussed me for it, too). I have always had a dominant personality, but I am also a very emotional person and I have found that that can often cloud my judgment and effective communication skills. I am very passionate about a lot of things that I do, so when people are goofing around, not listening or aren’t taking things as seriously as I do, I get frustrated. That frustration is then channeled into, “I’ll just tell them what they need to do,” and that turns into being overly bossy. The upside to this? I definitively know that I am not a passive person – Nothing gets by me without a comment or some sort of notice. Again… my poor husband, lol.
All in all, the lessons in this class helped me become better at my career, a better spouse and a better friend. I wish all college courses had “ah-ha” moments in them like this one… but alas, I suppose I’ll have to settle for a few “ah-ha’s” when my summer semester Financial Accounting finally clicks about 3-4 weeks into the course.