This fear is also why it seems “everything” offends someone, and political correctness is the standard, not an exception.

PSYC 515 Weekly Forum Student Responses.

Answer each response with a minimum of 250 words. Must list references used.

RESPONSE 1 (Kenneth): Using “straight talk” so routinely at home has resulted in me being more direct with others both at work and in general social, interpersonal relationships. As stated in the textbook, the biggest and scariest part of being open and honest and direct when speaking with others is vulnerability and fear of rejection, or of hurting someone we can about (Aronson, 2012). This is why people avoid honest comments or open conversation. This fear is also why it seems “everything” offends someone, and political correctness is the standard, not an exception. Being in the Army, I know that an obstacle I routinely face, on a daily basis, is simple conversations with others. I tend to be very raw and open in my speech, to include peppering in the occasional swear word, for flavor. Truthfully, most people enjoy this about me. However, not everyone is as accepting. I think what has helped me to understand my interactions with others better is I that when I meet people, I let them know what they can expect from me, and should I perhaps say or do something that may offend them, just come and talk to me, one-on-one. I make it clear that I am not trying to be intentionally offensive, but instead, I want them to know that when I say something, that its real and honest and in no way is to meant to hurt or tear down anyone. Ultimately, I believe that fear of reprisal and fear of unknown consequences is what keeps people from honestly expressing themselves.

I encourage my oldest daughter to express her emotions openly. She is four years old, and everything about her is unregulated, uninhibited, and raw. Truthfully, I am jealous. I don’t want her to lose that mindset as she grows up, and I don’t want other people imposing false boundaries on her. Yes, I realize that later in life, as she hit middle school and high school, this may become a problem. For now, I tell her to say what she is feeling, talk to Mommy or me about what is making her happy, or sad, or angry. Just as my wife and I strive to be examples of communication and straight talk, we do our best to install those virtues in our daughter. When our youngest is old enough, she will be taught the same things. This adds a level of authenticity to them that their peers may not share. It will also make them more apt to be vulnerable with their closest friends, allowing them to build stronger relationships (Aronson, 2012).

There indeed are times when I felt that it would be unwise to be 100% raw and unfiltered in my dialogue with other people. This primarily occurs at work, when I am dealing with Soldiers. Specifically, this is in group settings. When I interact with others in a one-on-one environment, again, I make it clear that everything is on the table, that real conversation will be had, and they can expect me to be engaged and not just provide them with empty platitudes and generic advice. However, when I am in a group setting, I am careful about what I say, how I express emotions, and that my words are driving to a desired goal and message. This difference in verbal content is because when I am dealing with a signal person, it’s simple to get them to understand and accept my particular style. In a group setting, it’s not as easy, and therefore, it’s smarter to guard my words. Like anybody else, I do this primarily to protect myself from others who may misconstrue my message, or twist my words to later use them against me.

References

Aronson, E. (2012). The Social Animal. New York: Worth Publishers.

RESPONSE 2 (Teaera): For this weeks forum post we were assigned to discuss “straight talk” and why it seems to be uncommon in relationships. We are to discuss the personal and social issues that might need to be overcome in order to utilize “straight talk” and discuss if children should be taught how to utilize this method while in school. Lastly we are to discuss if we believe there are certain circumstances in which “straight talk” should not be utilized.

I believe that some of the reasons why “straight talk” is uncommon in relationships is because of how vulnerable this makes the person using it. This would likely be an even more considerable barrier for men. As stated in our reading “straight talk” is really about utilizing feelings, clearly stating how you feel, not just lashing out at the other person (Aronson, 2012). I feel this also goes against the typical American image and makes it difficult for men and women to utilize this method. We tend to take things very personally and therefor lash out in an attempt to also personally attack our partners. My husband and I have been in a relationship for over 12 years and it took many, many years of trial and error to stumble into “straight talk” but I can definitely say that it has made our relationship better.

I touched on some of the personal and social issues that would need to be overcome in the last paragraph. Utilizing this method would cause feelings of vulnerability which as stated in our reading is something that we have been taught to avoid (Aronson, 2012). We believe that this protects ourselves when really it just makes our relationships harder to maintain and stabilize. Another issue is in many instances people are not even fully aware of their feelings and the reason they are reacting in a certain manner, this makes it very difficult to convey to your partner.

I absolutely feel that children should be taught to utilize good communication methods while in school and I feel this would overall enhance the school experience. I see no reason that these methods could not be practiced with teachers and authority figures. Speaking to those above you is something everyone has to do for the rest of their lives. The other children could also be utilized to practice peer to peer communication.

For the final question, if there are times where “straight talk” should not be utilized, I can not really come up with anything. I can imagine that there would be times and places where this kind of communication would not be taken in the best light but I would put that down to a negative environment. I feel that in a healthy society this kind of communication should be encouraged and endorsed. Perhaps in certain working environments, such as during high stress interactions, with the military or the police, this kind of communication would not be feasible but I feel this is very much a minority.

RESPONSE 3 (Jason): This week’s topic is another great one to discuss. Communication is key to healthy relationships and appears to be the number one thing to break down in a relationship. The concept of straight talk is an important factor for healthy communication which leads to healthy relationships. Our text book describes straight talk as having a person being vulnerable with another person in expressing their feelings, wants and needs in a nonjudgmental and open manner. In our culture, being vulnerable isn’t promoted which is why straight talk isn’t utilized more. Our society has promoted independence, strength and the importance of looking good on the outside. Utilizing straight talk is counterintuitive to this theme. I think that is one reason why the divorce rate is so high in the USA as miscommunication or no communication breaks down the relationship, and it is easier for people to end the relationship than work to learn how to communicate effectively with each other. I am glad that I and my wife attended pre-marriage counseling that evolved into 3 years of continued counseling in our marriage. The first thing we learned was the importance of learning to communicate our feelings and needs to each other. This was not comfortable at first, but it sure helps in the long run, as me and my wife have never had a fight or even an argument in coming up on 10 years of marriage.

In an article by Esere, Yeyeodu, and Oladun, (2014) effective communication was studied with 660 couples in Africa. Obstacles to effective communication were identified as lack of time, negative or intense tone of conversation and rehashing past events. We have learned from our text the importance of immediacy in expressing feelings and concerns to prevent buildup of emotions. Solutions identified in this study were considering the other spouse’s opinion, contribution, and having trust in that person. The findings of this study suggest that community education through seminars and awareness campaigns could increase effective communication in couples on a larger scale.

Education for children in effective communication and conflict resolution is very important. If we do not know how to communicate effectively, how do we get our needs met effectively, and build lasting relationships? In an article by Dion (2008), the importance of strengthening the institution of marriage to reduce the number of single parent homes was discussed. This article discusses the need to modify current curriculums to be more available to lower income population needs. The need of education with promotion of utilization of communication skills through a community effort would be beneficial. If the youth are all encouraged to engage in effective communication, it would be easier for them to practice what they are learning.

I think there are occasions in which you do not utilize straight talk, such as when first meeting someone and not having trust built, or if you feel the person could use the information against you. A police man or other people in authority would not be wise to express their emotions openly in a crisis situation. I know as a counselor/Program Director, I do not openly practice straight talk with residents or staff that I supervise. We may not want to express our emotions when we are in the middle of the emotion to our superiors either.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Jason

References

Aronson, E. (2011). The Social Animal [Kindle iOS version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Dion, M. R. (2008). Healthy Marriage Programs: Learning What Works. Future of Children, 15(2), 139–156. https://doi.org/10.1353/foc.2005.0016

Esere, M., Yeyeodu, A., & Oladun, C. (2014). Obstacles and Suggested Solutions to Effective Communication in Marriage as Expressed by Married Adults in Kogi State, Nigeria. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 114, 584–592.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.12.751