Self-Awareness: How Do You Relate This Unit Essay

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¶ … Self-Awareness:

How do you relate this unit on the self (self-concept, self-awareness, self- disclosure, and self-esteem) to the previous units in the course? Show a specific and clear relationship among all four units.

Previous units on effective interpersonal communications did not relate directly to personal psychological issues. This unit on the self put into much clearer perspective the relationship between internal psychological orientation and externally-oriented communications. Specifically, the concept of self and self-esteem determine many aspects of the way we interact with others, such as our internal response to statements, beliefs, and observations of other individuals. Similarly, our self-awareness directly affects the way we react to statements or comments that relate to us and influences our responses. Finally, self-disclosure is closely related to our need to maintain our self-concept and is strongly influenced by our need to maintain the underlying bases of our self-esteem.

Healthy self-esteem is partly dependent on a positive and realistic self-concept.

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On the other hand, low self-esteem often results in the development of one of two extreme types of elf concept. Low self-esteem may contribute to the development of a poor or unflattering concept of self that is overly negative. Alternatively, low self-esteem may contribute to the development of an excessively positive or unrealistically flattering concept of self as a means of denying or repressing low self-esteem. In this sense, many of the behaviors commonly associated with having a "large ego" or conceit are actually overcompensation for a poor self-image rather than evidence of a strong self-image.

Essay on Self-Awareness: How Do You Relate This Unit Assignment

Both self-awareness and self-disclosure are related to self-esteem and self-concept because self-awareness is the key to recognizing inappropriately low self-esteem; it is also intimately related to the mechanism by which one can recognize his overcompensation for low self-esteem. In the realm of communications, low self-esteem and maintenance of an unrealistically high self-concept interfere with effective interpersonal communications, because they often require excessive self-disclosure of flattering information while preventing the appropriate acknowledgement of less flattering information or acceptance of responsibility for mistakes. 2. The article on self-maintenance by Barrett argues that we put an enormous amount of energy into preserving our self-concept and self-esteem. How do our efforts at self-maintenance enhance or improve our relationships? How can they lead to conflict? Give examples of the self-maintenance strategies you most commonly use, and describe two cases, one where these strategies had positive effects and one where they resulted in conflict or a breakdown of the interaction. In each case, what aspect of your self-image were you trying to preserve or protect, and what might have happened if you had been less "defensive"?

Efforts directed at self maintenance enhance or improve our relationships only when the underlying self-perceptions are relatively accurate and realistic. In that case, they enhance or improve our relationships because they allow us to acknowledge the truth about who we are, and therefore, assist our efforts to share whoever we really are with others. Efforts directed at self maintenance can lead to conflict where our underlying self-perceptions are inaccurate and unrealistic. In that case, they lead to conflict because we are constantly engaged in the process of manipulating the information we disclose about ourselves in order to maintain a false image that is consistent with an idealized self-perception that conflicts with the reality of who we are.

This is particularly true where the individual reacts negatively to observations or comments of others that are objectively realistic but violate our self-perception.

In my case, part of my self-concept has to do with my pride about being a good athlete. An example where this has contributed positively to my interrelationships was a situation where disclosing my athletic interests assisted my efforts to get to know new acquaintances who were also sports oriented and who respected me for being athletic.

An example where this has contributed negatively was a situation where I purposely disclosed my athleticism in a social conversation with a new acquaintance but apparently emphasized it too much. Instead of helping me establish a positive communication, it had the opposite effect of making me seem shallow and too focused on athletics instead of more meaningful things, at least in that person's eyes.

At the time, I was trying to preserve that part of my self-concept that depends on my being perceived as an athlete. I may have reacted too defensively when the person suggested that I was too sports oriented. Instead of arguing that I was more well-rounded than that or that there is nothing wrong with my athletic interests, I should have abandoned the topic entirely and simply demonstrated that I was equally capable of discussing other things by allowing the other person to change the topic of conversation.

4. Through communication, we can change our self-awareness -- by moving information from the blind or hidden self into the open self. These changes can then affect our self-esteem -- either positively or negatively. Describe a specific situation in which your own self-esteem was affected by a change in your own self-awareness. Be sure to explain how the effect happened, not just what the effect was.

In the year before I enrolled in college, many of my conversations with friends and neighbors concerned my plans for continuing my education. Typically, the person asked about my plans and those questions lead to further conversation about my interests and career plans. At some point, I realized that those conversations were almost exclusively about me and that I hardly ever reciprocated by asked about the other person or about that person's family. This dawned on me only gradually, but because so many of my conversations took the same course, I was able to recognize how one-sided they were in terms of the amount of conversational content about me. At first, this caused a reduction in my self-esteem because I do not admire self-centered people.

In thinking about that, I realized that I have a certain tendency to be somewhat self-centered because I tend to enjoy disclosing information abut myself in conversation while having considerably less natural interest in the other person. Because this bothered me, I resolved to try to change that by making more of a specific effort to ask about the other person after answering their first series of questions about me. At first, this was difficult for me but after a while, it became somewhat more natural. Since making more of an effort to share information more equally in social conversations, I have noticed that my self-esteem has returned to normal and I learned that I have the ability to recognize and admit my own shortcomings and do what is necessary to address them positively.


Describe the conversation you had with your partner. What did you talk about? What did you do as a listener (non-verbal and verbal listening feedback, etc.)? What kind(s) of listening did you do?

My partner and I discussed his dilemma over the choice to drop a course with which he had been having trouble. He is an engineering student whose major course of study requires the mathematics course in question, Differential Equations. He had been having difficulty understanding the material and had fallen far behind the syllabus. I tried to listen (actively) to his dilemma and to his reasons for wanting to drop the course and I tried to encourage him to try to complete the course and rearrange is schedule to make more time for that course.

My non-verbal contribution to the conversation consisted of demonstrating my understanding of the situation by nodding my head and I also reviewed his course materials, his previous exams and quizzes, and his major requirement schedule. My verbal contribution to the conversation consisted of encouraging my partner to stick it out and avoid dropping the course at all costs. When my partner expressed doubt about his choice of major course of study, I responded by advising him not to get so discouraged just because of one course.

Evaluate your listening. How were you effective as a listener? What listening skills could you have done better? What effect would a different listening/response strategy have had in the conversation?

Looking back on the conversation, I realize that I may not have listened enough to one of my partner's concerns because I was too focused on the point-of-view that I started out with initially. He expressed doubt as to the suitability of engineering as a course of major study altogether, which I completely discounted. From my perspective, difficulty in one required course should not cause someone to think about changing the direction of one's whole academic career.

I could have listened better to his point that the particular course with which he was having so much trouble is fundamental to his major course of study. He may have been right to wonder whether engineering is right for him, even if he manages to pass the course, if he is having such difficulty with that course. Instead of encouraging him to persevere no matter what, I could have suggested… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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