Barbara Mellix is the professor, executive assistant dean, and Director of the College of Arts and Science advising center, University of Pittsburg. In her essay “From Outside, In”, the author discusses the issue of the so called ‘doubleness’. According to the author, ‘doubleness’ means that she interacts with her family members and handles interpersonal communication with people at work, colleagues, her readers, and acquaintances in different ways (Mellix 385). Mellix (384) caught herself speaking both “country-colored and proper English” depending on circumstances. As she pondered on this fact further, Melix (392, 393) came to the conclusion that a person can be at liberty and find satisfaction in managing languages in order to adapt to various circumstances and interact effectively with different people. Interestingly, my personal experience of interpersonal communication corroborates Mellix’s claim about the existence of the ‘doubleness’ phenomenon as I find myself speaking differently with my family members, friends, and other people either.
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Notably, for years prior to reading Mellix’s “From Outside, In”, I noticed consistent and systematic differences in the way I talked to others depending on a person I interacted with. In fact, I must admit that I communicate in diverse ways not only with various groups of people, but with individual persons as well. Therefore, I can say I experience multiple ‘doubleness’ since my verbal communication differs frequently depending on a person with whom I interact. Apparently, when I talk with my parents, especially with my mother, I use informal language and some words, expressions, and comparisons that would be unclear to an outside listener. Moreover, not only the words we use and the things we say vary from usual communication with people from outside family circle. Frequently, the way we express thoughts and the hidden meanings we imply are all ‘part of the game’ in our oral conversation. I believe that freedom to communicate in such a manner with my mother goes beyond common family intimacy. It is also a way to escape from pressures of life through careless laughter, being hundred percent myself, acting silly and still be and feel loved and accepted. The ability to speak differently with my mother opens the whole new dimension in my personal life and the ability for self-expression.
However, conversations about work matters, politics, literature, science, legislations, and elections with friends, colleagues, and especially opponents require usage of a more sophisticated vocabulary, logically sound arguments, and well organized sentence structure. When I intend to convince someone that a politician I would like to vote for is better than the others, I use all my cunning and logic wrapped up in sincerity and awareness of dynamics of political world. Certainly, I also feel ‘doubleness’ when communicating with unfamiliar people. With them, I use rather formal language, appropriate tone of voice and suitable word choices. I realized that I tended to subconsciously switch vocabulary, as well as tone and volume of voice, in order to align with the way I deemed appropriate in communication with a particular individual.
At some point several years ago, I decided that I should check my motives behind ‘doubleness’ in order to make sure that I do not act out of men pleasing motives, but out of the desire to better relate to others. At that time, I did not call it ‘doubleness’, but I noticed distinctive differences in my communications with various people. At a certain point, I even got concerned that it was some slight mental disorder, but I dismissed the notion after I read that 75 per cent of all people had some psychiatric deviations (good news for psychiatrists and maybe not such great news for everybody else!). I tried observing more closely how other people communicate in different environments and concluded that being able to employ ‘doubleness’ is a gift and talent that enhances a person’s communication, makes him/her an exceedingly good conversationalist, helps to dominate and have an upper hand in discussions and arguments when applied properly and skillfully.
While reading Barbara Mellix’s “From Outside, In”, I found several parallels and differences between the author’s views and how I felt about my customary way of speaking with my mother and other people. First, the author felt that her customary way of communicating with her mother was inferior (Mellix 385). Personally, I do not consider my way of speaking with my mother inferior. However, we do not use this manner of speaking to each other in front of others not because we are embarrassed. Our way is too personal and appropriate only in a very close circle. For example, a person can wear certain outfits at home or in front of only one person. This is not about being or feeling inferior or afraid about how one looks, but it is about being wise and selective. Second, Mellix realized the importance of speaking standard language by the time she reached the 12th grade (387). Notably, I realized the importance of being able to clearly express myself in standard language when I was about the same age.
Similarly to Barbara Mellix, I concluded that a person can be at liberty and derive satisfaction from using different manners of speaking in order to adapt to various people, situations and environments. After reading “From Outside, In”, I realized that my personal experience of interpersonal communication confirms Mellix’s claim about the existence of ‘doubleness’ in verbal communication since I found myself speaking differently with my family members, friends, and other people.
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