What I Think I Heard You Say: Learning How to Improve Challenging Social and Political Interactions

What I Think I Heard You Say: Learning How to Improve Challenging Social and Political Interactions

Lisa Sechrest-Ehrhardt (University of the District of Columbia, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3843-1.ch005
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Abstract

The United States is a diverse country which includes a vast tapestry rich in cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions. The robust diversity is what defines the nation, its character, its identity, and its strength. This rich tapestry of diversity also provides the nation with a unique status among all nations and is viewed as a nation of immigrants. One aspect of such diversity is the complicated nature of social interactions between and among people who have different perceptions about the world. Often one's perception effects behavior in social interactions having positive or negative results. Using two theories, Symbolic Interaction and Cognitive, this chapter guides the reader to understanding the complicated relationships that arise when one interacts with and among others who may not perceive the world in the same manner.
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Introduction

The world is a challenge place at times. Political, economic, and social factors, singularly and collectively, contribute to the challenges we encounter as we interact and socialize with others. Currently, simple conversations and differences of opinions regarding the topics mentioned can turn into ugly, argumentative, and on the rare occasion, become a physical confrontation. Social interactions with others can become stressful and touchy when we perceive that others “just don’t get it”. Using two theories, Symbolic Interaction and Cognitive, this chapter guides readers to understanding the complicated relationships that sometimes arise when one interacts with and among others who may not perceive the world in the same manner. Part of the complication is between oneself, one’s perceptions, and the contentious social interactions with others. Using parables and case examples the chapter offers detailed suggestions regarding how self-awareness can provide an avenue to easing tension in challenging social interactions.

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