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  Thursday, January 19, 2006

  Levels of communication, relation building and weblogs

Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds:

Relationships everywhere move though various levels of communication as people get to know each other. While this happens in different ways in various cultures, here is on common pattern for how relationships are established.

1. Superficial level: This involves conversation generally referred to as 'small talk' How are you? Where are you from? The weather or today's headlines.

2. 'Still safe' level: This is an exchange of no-risk facts. Where did you go on vacation last year? What sights did you see?

3. Judgemental level: Here, we begin to risk a few statements about our opinion on politics, religion, or other matters about which our new friends might disagree with us.

4. Emotional level: We begin sharing how we feel about life, ourselves and others (e.g., that we're sad, happy, worries, or depressed)

5. Disclosure level: We reveal our most private thoughts and feelings to another person, confession secret dreams as well as painful failures. This stage involved an honesty and vulnerability that lead to true intimacy. Most of us only have a few people in our lives with whom we share at this level. Some people have no one to share such a place. [p.133]

Although the researcher in me wants to know the sources behind this classification, it's a nice add-on to another perspective on types of contacts we have with other people ("Life between buildings", online):

High intensity

Low intensity

Close friendships
Chance contacts
Passive contacts ("see and hear" contacts)

Since the role of blogging in relation building is one of my long term interests, I immediately thought about possible parallels. While the second classification is good to catch the implicit ("passive contacts") stage of developing relations, the first one helps to explain why blogs could be a great source for getting to know someone well enough.

IMHO, lots of good blogging starts on levels 3-5, skipping the stages of "small talk" and "no-risk facts", since those are not likely to attract interested readers in many cases. In many cases it's the original (opinionated :) commentary, emotions shared and vulnerable disclosures that make a weblog engaging - exactly the same things that help others to get to know the author much deeper than a casual face-to-face contact might do...

  Cross-cultural reading

Somewhere last October I tried to search for the roots of my unsettledness and something that could help me to understand what does it mean to travel between cultures and to live far away from those who matter to you. One day, jumping between posts of Nancy White and Beverly Trayner I've learnt about global nomads and TCK (Third Culture Kids) - those who grow up travelling between cultures as their parents move around the globe.

I spent a few hours then browsing through websites and book descriptions, fascinated how much I could learn there.

My first book was Intercultural Marriage: Promises and Pitfalls (review). Since I'm in an intercultural relation anyway and it's going to last I wanted to be prepared for the things to come ("food, friends, and other frustrations" as one of the chapters calls it ;). However, those were not that scary and many resolved or at least thought about...

Now I'm at Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds (review). This one is a thrilling journey of recognising own experiences, thinking over explanations of things I couldn't understand myself and even being a bit scared of the challenges to deal with in the future. It focuses on the specific case (kids who grow moving between different cultures), but provides a good foundation for understanding much broader issues about cross-cultural experiences, mobility, identity, relation building...

I definitely see quite a few connections with my research and hopefully will blog about it (although recently my promises to blog are not very reliable :)

More on: cross-cultural 

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© Copyright 2002-2006 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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