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Karl Cassel

Dr. Langan COMM 221

Partner Paper

October 6, 2015

Two Worlds Intertwined: Discoveries of a Communication Experiment

The Partner Experience project was unlike any project in school I have been a

part of before. In this experience I confirmed aspects I knew about myself previously,

learned new dimensions to my personality, gained a better understanding of my partner,

and learned a host of different aspects of humans and the ways in which they interact.

To start, it is important to examine the various aspects of myself that I learned

about, was confirmed in, or surprised by. I consider myself an extrovert and gain my

energy from being around others and in group settings. Throughout our day, I found my

extroverted nature playing a big role in my interactions. I was rarely hesitant to reach

out to someone I knew that was walking by as Natalie and I sat in Lower Beamer.

Simply having someone I knew, or one of Natalies friends I didnt know, hanging out

with us brought more energy to the conversation and was enjoyable for myself.

I was confirmed in my love for people and being in conversation. I also confirmed

my notion that I have a hard time sitting still and remaining focused for long periods of

time. I often found myself wanting to get up and walk around, however, this was not

super convenient because it required both Natalie and I to do so together, which I, at

times, felt was a bit much to put her through.

On the other hand, I learned that I am a people-oriented listener, therefore I

relate and find meaning through emotion and feelings. This was discovered through the
different kinds of interactions Natalie and I had in which I was more concerned with the

personal, emotional sides of a situation or story. I also learned that I have a tendency to

speak often which, sometimes, can become a bit much or inconvenient. This could

especially be the case if someone was tied to my arm for 12 hours. I found that I was

the one directing conversation for the majority of the experiment duration whether that

was asking my partner questions about her upbringing and current life or logistical

questions regarding the rest of the day.

My ability to ask questions and maintain conversation can be seen as a skill, yet

there is also the chance that it becomes too overpowering and in the case of the

experiment, could be too much interaction if both partners are not on the same page.

Through this new understanding, I will be able to implement this awareness and be

conscious of the amount I speak, hopefully balancing this with better avenues of active

listening. This should improve the value of my relationships and allow myself to gain

more from future conversations.

Next, I learned a fair amount about my partner, Natalie, and her tendencies,

behaviors and attitudes. Through our experiences together, starting in the morning,

when we began, I was able to infer that she is rather reserved, enjoying listening for the

most part. This was observed through her lack of consistency in returning questions in

conversation and a lack of follow up to any questions she asked. For this reason, I could

attribute my extended conversation and depth in questions to her lack of feedback and

return of questions. Our interactions mostly resembled the interpersonal communication

model of Human Communication as Interaction, where the receiver of the each

message simply responds through feedback. We reached the model of Human


Communication as a Transaction a bit less frequently which would have involved us

mutually interacting, sharing different aspects of the conversation and providing

constant feedback.

Continuing, based on my inferences in regards to Natalies interaction with my

friends who we would run into around campus, I interpreted her to be a time-oriented

listener. This interpretation was based on the multiple times that we would have an

interaction with one of my friends and she would be engaged for a certain period of

time, and would then seem to lose interest and feedback and interactions would begin

to decrease. This form of listening was also observed in our one-on-one conversations

in which we would engage in interpersonal communication, that after a short period

would decrease until we were back to doing homework or other forms of work. It is not

that this form of listening is bad, or a disadvantage to her, but simply one of the common

listening styles that she displays more clearly.

Moving on, there were times in which Natalie and I dealt with various situations

such as decision-making, problem-solving, and conflict management. Perhaps the most

frequently visited situation between us dealt with decision-making. In everyday life, my

decision-making thought process infrequently involves other people and therefore I am

making personal decisions for myself. It was not until I was physically tied to someone

else that I realized the importance of communication and the role it plays in the

decision-making process. This is because every decision involved another person,

therefore, I had to check with Natalie before I made any moderately important decisions

about the course of my day. If I wanted to go grab a drink of water in passing between

classes, I had to actively speak with Natalie and get her approval to stop and get a
drink. This extensive and more labor intensive decision-making process added an extra

step to my thought process, ultimately affecting our plans and the processes of our day.

I also experienced problem-solving with Natalie as we navigated common,

everyday experiences and activities together. Perhaps our greatest problem-solving feat

was our successful baking of cookies. Not only did we have to determine how to

physically navigate in our tiny Terrace Apartment kitchen, but also how to use

hazardous cooking tools such as scissors, an oven and microwave. The various tasks

of melting the butter, stirring the dough and making it into balls required maximum

verbal communication and a heightened sense of awareness when working with hot

pans and sharp objects. Problem-solving is a natural process that requires detailed

thinking and often draws from previous experiences. This mental access to previous

experiences that could aid in problem-solving was less useful, however, because I had

never had to address a problem or situation while being tied to someone else. This

realization was particularly interesting to me.

As I look back on this experience, I saw self-fulfilling prophecy take place during

the beginning of the experiment. I went into this experience with a positive outlook,

ready to engage with Natalie in conversation, looking forward to learning from the

experience, and ready to take advantage of the opportunity. With these optimistic

thoughts in mind I felt that my experience was particularly positive. This reflects the

nature of a self-fulfilling prophecy and its part it played in my experience.

I also saw Joharis Window at play in my experience with this experiment in

regards to different types of information that was disclosed throughout. I was able to

share stories and information with Natalie that would fall into the open category
because it was known to me as well as to Natalie or others. In contrast, there was

information from the hidden category from which I did not share based on the fact that I

did not know Natalie well, therefore there was little trust. Also, there was most likely

information from the blind category that was shared during the experience, however, I

would not have been aware of it because information in that category is known to others

but not to myself. Information from this category will be found in Natalies paper, most

likely.

In conclusion, why is it so difficult or strange to wrap our minds around this

experience of being tied up to another person? Afterall, we are constantly surrounded

by people throughout our daily lives and dont seem to think twice about it. I believe that

the physical restriction of the rope represents a deeper level of connection, one that

displays a public bond between myself and my partner. Because this is not a common

sight, each partner begins to view themselves in light of what other people think of

them. This creates a more cautious and aware outlook on ones daily tasks as they are

fully conscious of the other body they are attached to. This idea that my personal space

is now, suddenly, being shared with someone else for a prolonged period, is one that

takes time to get adjusted to. Humans are communal beings, however, we need time

away from each other, in solitude to regain our thoughts, rest, and reflect. When we

compromise those needs, there may be a bit of struggle, but also much room for

learning about yourself and the person tied beside you.