Rough Draft of Inquiry Project


A Dialogic approach to Interpersonal Skills in the Age of Postmodern Difference

Melinda Holland

Queens University of Charlotte




Interpersonal communications ethics in this historical moment has become a rare commodity. The “good” of dialogic in interpersonal communication ethics is being threatened by bias, prejudices and lack of tolerance of indifference. Today, we must demand more civility towards each other. According to Horowitz, Rosenberg, & Bartholomew, 1993, “Interpersonal problems are recurrent difficulties in relating to others and are a common reason why people seek psychotherapy.” So how do we improve this problem? We look for solutions in practicing civility and looking at each person with a social cognitive approach on how they act and react in given situations.

Understanding the framework of the six approaches of communications ethics is pivotal when it comes interpersonal communications. They include: universal-humanitarian ethics, democratic ethics, codes and procedures and contextual ethics, narrative ethics, and dialogic ethics. I need more here I know

To analyze the problem with interpersonal communications there has to be intentionality of “goods”. The universal-humanitarian approach is about protecting and promoting the principals of rational and ethical practices for every human being. The problems this approach in the historic moment is there is much more uncertainty than certainty of the in everyday living. According to our textbook page 47 digital edition, “A universal-humanitarian communication ethics does not attend to the messiness of particulars, but to the principals that prescribe and dictate one’s duty. The good is one’s universal duty tied to a given domain of human life and experience (such as telling the truth); one’s communicative behavior protects and promotes the good.” (Arnett, Fritz, & Bell, 2008, pg. 47)

In the workplace for example, interpersonal problems may be linked to interpersonal expectations. By using the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems Figure developed by (Horowitz, Alden, Wiggins, & Pincus, 2000) as a “common self-report measure, (Locke, 2005, pg. 915-916).   Locke suggests using a social cognitive approach to interpersonal problems in different environments. He states, “Of particular importance may be interpersonal expectations –expectations about how others will react to the self and how the self will respond to those actions.” (Locke, 2005, pg. 916). The method Locke used for determining reality of reactions and imagined reactions to self were 150 undergraduates (103 female, 47 male, age M=20.4 years, SD=4.3). Materials used was the IIP (inventory of interpersonal problems) and an IRR (Imagined Reaction Record) with a variety of formulas. The good news is after seven days intake of packets records indicated more participants “expected more positive (listening and opening-up) results and negative (arguing or ignoring) (Locke, 2005, pg. 925) counter reactions from self. Locke’s research should continue prompt more future research by “clarifying why these associations (problems) exists and whether changing everyday interpersonal expectations can help people overcome enduring interpersonal problems.” (Locke, 2005, pg. 929).

Finally, Arnett hit the nail on the head in his 2001 journal “ Dialogic Civility as Pragmatic Ethical Praxis: An Interpersonal for the Public Domain, “The communicative task for the 21st century is neither to establish commonality nor to maintain constant distance, but to rather provide a common space for meeting and learning difference” (Arnett, 2001, pg. 336). He further suggests to use metaphors that “enrich communication learning with one another,” ending with the metaphor of “civility”. (Arnett, 2001, pg. 336).


Works Cited:

Arnett, R. C. (2001). Dialogic civility as pragmatic ethical praxis: An interpersonal metaphor for the public domain. Communication Theory, 11(3), 315-338.

Locke, K. D. (2005). INTERPERSONAL PROBLEMS AND INTERPERSONAL EXPECTATIONS IN EVERYDAY LIFE. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology,24(7), 915-931.

Arnett, Ronald C., Fritz, Jane M. Harden & Bell, Leanne M. (2008). Communications ethics literacy: Dialogue and difference. Los Angeles: Sage.







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