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Running head: ASSIGNMENT #1

Communication and Cultures – COMM 660 Reflection Paper – Assignment #1 Jeff Bennett Queens University of Charlotte May 11, 2012

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Communication 660 – Assignment #1 There was a point last semester that I realized that I would npot be able t take the shortened courses offered over the summer. I went on to realize that I would be limited to taking classes only on Wednesday nights. I logged on to MyQueens and noticed the course offered was a topic I was unfamiliar with and a professor that I had never met. This was the course I was going to be taking all summer long and I did not have a clue about what to expect from Gender and Inter-Generational Communication until I picked up the books 20 minutes before class and then plopped myself in a chair in Dana 110. After the first night of class I was pleasantly surprised at what appears to be a very interesting and hopefully exciting semester. Many of my male friends from college have gone on to get a second degree. Several of them have gone to medical and law schools while others have gone on to get their MBA. Very few of my male friends have sought out a second degree in the field of Communication. I assume there is large number of males that would agree with me when I say that not many males are seeking out Communications Masters degrees. Having been in the Masters Communication program at Queen for almost 4 years I have spent many semesters in classrooms surrounded by women. Not the worst thing in the world but my educational experience has definitely slanted towards the female perspective and methods of learning. I have been slowly gathering some tips on different types of gender communication but thought this course could crystalize some on the informal lesson I have been gathering.

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The field of education has long been stereotyped as a field dominated by women. I have gone against the stereotype and chosen a career in education. Since graduating college I have worked at several universities and taught at the high school level. At each stop I was surrounded professionally by women coworkers. Hoping to survive in this field will require the appropriate forms of gender communication. As I creep into middle aged I have been lucky enough to climb the corporate ladder and find myself in a position of influence and responsibility in my current role. One of the first things I notice when taking on my new, more high profile job was that my peer group has changed. I was no longer working side by side recent graduates on projects. Instead I have found myself hiring those recent graduates and working with coworker in their sixties on projects. This change in peer group has forced me to think about how I will communicate in the work place. My hope is that this class sheds some light on the upcoming challenges I may face as I work to get things accomplished with the group above and below my age bracket. I am currently in the middle and needing to ensure more than ever that I can clearly communicate with all ages. When examining my identity I classify myself as a middle aged, white, heterosexual, male that comes from an educated, somewhat wealthy background in an isolated community in the northeast. According to society I have had everything given to me and most likely have not been alienated at any point in my life. I recognize that I have been a member of the majority in most areas of life. I feel lucky and blessed to be having what is perceived as societal advantages. Opportunities and access have given me a true advantage in many areas of life such as employment, housing and education.

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Having these advantages in my life has been a blessing. When it comes to my knowledge, interests, abilities and goals I feel as though I have been able to develop an enjoyable life. From a young age my parents were able to provide for me. I was able to get a great jumpstart on my education by attending preschool and then lucky enough to live in a community that prided itself on a great school system. Resources where never a problem throughout elementary and middles school and I attended a top notch high school where the stakes were high and the support was strong. The systems were in place to make sure that I was going to succeed. There were many people along the way there to support and a mentality that fostered success. The thought of college was always a when and not an if in my house growing up. I was able to attend a small private college and incur zero debt upon graduation. These educational experiences have given me a strong foundation from which to launch further into my future. Throughout my education both in and outside of the classroom I have been able to develop a wide variety of interests. I have been exposed to great teachers, traveled around the world and been pushed to think about outside of the box. I love history, so going to museums and historical sites has always been something that excites me. Sports have always been at the center of my life either as a participant or a rabid fan. Once again, having access to these interests has allowed them to flower throughout my life. Knowing where the next meal is coming from and not being concerned about whether or not we will have power at our house has allowed me to focus on other thoughts. My basic needs have been taken care of my whole life and I do not feel as if any of them are at risk of being taken away.

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The need for goal setting has been ever present in my life. I love the process of planning for and then accomplishing goals. There is a real sense of pride in me when I am able to meet, and at times exceed goals that I set in my life. I am very competitive so the act of goal setting serves as a personal game for me to compete within. The goals that I have set for myself have mostly centered on family, finances and career. From a young age I wanted to have a family and I have been lucky enough to have found a perfect wife and mother to my now two year old son. We hope to grow the family in the coming years and give Alex a brother or sister. I am close with my parent and siblings even though we live far apart. The sense of family has helped me to keep my foundation strong. As far as finances go I have worked hard to stay out of too much debt and have put together an aggressive savings plan for my family’s future. I feel comfortable with the current state of my finances and hope to continue to work hard and earn as much wealth as possible. This comfortable financial position as been created by a diligent climb up the corporate ladder and some wise decisions surrounding a second, part time job and investments all of which I consider my career. I hope to keep climbing and feel positive that I can continue to find success. As I have made my way through life there are certain experiences that have allowed me to gain a perspective on the topics of gender and inter-generational communication. These experiences will hopefully serve as a preparation of sorts for our class discussions.

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On the topic of gender communication: I was raised by a strong woman and a great role model in my mother and have lived my life with a younger sister. This has allowed me to develop a sense of what is the right and wrong treatment of women. Along the way I have also learned a thing or two about the style in which to communicate with a woman as opposed to a man. I have spent most of my professional life working in a field that is dominated by women. In this field of education I have been able to leade but feel very comfortable being both managed and mentored by woman. My bosses have shared with me many lessons about gender communication and shed some light on the dos and don’ts. When it comes to inter-generational communication: Currently I am learning some tough life lessons in this arena. In my present role I am working with a group of leaders that are at least 20 years older than I am. There are times when certain terms and belief systems differ between the distinct age groups. I have also noticed a difference in attitude towards work behavior, authority and task completion. These differences between generations are just now becoming apparent to me which leads me to believe that I was probably the young punk at work more than once that was not aware of the differences between age groups. Hopefully this class will enable me to better prepare the generation behind me and respect the generation ahead of me. There are several goals that I have for taking this summer long course. For starters I am very excited to be taking the last class of this program prior to the two part capstone course. I hope to make it to class every week on time. This is more of a challenge to me than a goal. I would like to prove that I have the ability to be all over the place professionally and still balance additional areas of importance, such as classwork

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and family. It is important to earn an A and in the process gain a better understanding of how to communicate with the opposite gender and different generations. Selfishly I hope this will help me to communicate better with my wife or at least understand a little better how to communicate with her. Also, as a relatively new manager of staff I am concerned that 16 of the 17 employees that report to me are women and from different generations. It will be important to pull lessons from this coursework that makes it easier to communicate with the staff I am leading. I am also looking to develop a better understanding about what I do that may be offensive to the opposite gender and other generations. I hope to create a system for identifying inefficiencies in my communication and figuring out ways to become a better communicator with individuals unlike me. Whenever I start a new class I always examine what some hesitations may be that would not allow me to gain the most from the course. After just one night of this course and not nearly enough time to do more than stereotype I do have some hesitations about taking this course. I am very opinionated and am concerned that a male view might not be accepted by a class dominated by females. There is the concern that I might not be as honest as possible in order to keep things politically correct and to avoid conflict. I am concerned about receiving negative judgments from classmates that I respect. Personally, I am at a point in my career where my work is very important and I am afraid I may not be able to balance the workload at the office and in the classroom. This is also my fourth year and I just want the program to be finished. I love the classes but I am eager to receive my degree and be able to have a bit of a break from the rigors of classwork. There are some concerns about having a

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new professor at such an important tim. Even after several years in this program I must admit that writing is not my strength and the APA format is still frightening to me. Furthermore, with some topics that may ignite some hot button issues I find it concerning that many of the people that I have been in the program with have graduated. There will be a lack of familiarity with this group and a small group of students makes for limited views and not much room to hide. I am concerned that we may not have a good perspective when it comes to the topic of generational communication since many of the students are in a similar age bracket. It seems like there will not be much emphasis on social media and previous course have added more and more to the syllabus. With the summer semester in full swing I am very excited to dive deep into the fields of gender and inter-generational communication. These fields are ever present in my daily life and are important for a number of reasons that I stated above. I am prepared to work hard, participate in open and honest dialogue and look forward to growing as an individual. The topics are exciting and I am ready and willing to learn as much as possible.

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