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COM course addresses life relationships

by Wendy Peng,'03


Do you have a problem getting along with people? Do you have a problem keeping a relationship alive and healthy? Are you trying to find a way to improve your relationship with someone? Have you failed a relationship without really knowing why? Is your self- confidence suffering and in need of improving? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider adding an interpersonal communication course to your schedule for next semester.

According to instructor Francine Lowell, COM 3200 Interpersonal Communication, is a course about relationships—with yourself and with others. The course aims to help students identify their communication problems—what they do that doesn’t work, what they can do that will work, and how to develop skills needed to improve their relationships with others.

Lowell has taught the interpersonal communication course at HPU since 1994. She pointed out the reasons why people have troubles with their relationships. “We believe that everyone thinks as we do, likes what we like, wants what we want; and if they don’t, they should. Of all the problems we face in life, relationship problems, in the workplace and at home, are generally the toughest to solve. They disturb our sleep, affect our performance, and result in a significant amount of emotional wear and tear,” she said.

“The purpose of this course is to increase students’ awareness of the challenges and opportunities inherent in all ongoing relationships,” she continued, “whether in the work setting or with family, friends, or a significant other.”

Instead of focusing solely on the course textbook, Lowell provides various materials combined with all kinds of in-class activities and group discussions to demonstrate to students how communication influences relationships. Lowell also introduces some special activities that help students identify their mission and life purpose, their requirements, needs, and wants in a significant relationship or in a job, and their perfect life visions.

A perfect life vision, for instance, is the subject of a collage presentation by which students share their thoughts about what their perfect life would be and how they are going to approach their perfect life.

Feedback about this particular activity, from both current students and course alumni, have been all positive.

David Vollbach, a communication major said, “The presentation was challenging, but I gained many benefits while preparing for it.”

The course begins with an emphasis on communicating with oneself, “because life is about self- awareness, that is, understanding who you are, what you want, and how you want to get it,” said Lowell.

Furthermore, through the course, students are able to gain insights into how their styles of communication are different from others and then enhance their communication abilities, so that they can enrich their relationships with people surrounding them.

“[Interpersonal communication] is not about right or wrong; instead it’s about whether you learn from your mistakes and become aware of what doesn’t work.” Lowell added, “It is important because a person’s success is about having a good relationship with self, romantic partner, co-workers, and families.”

The course offers insights into how people’s beliefs and childhood experiences influence communication, how gender influences communication, why conflict is a natural, inevitable occurrence whenever people interact, and ways to respond to it.

“Thanks to this course, I realized the different ways males and females think and value when they communicate. I will recommend this course to my friends because it benefits our life a lot,” said Wei Pen.




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