Am I looking through a glass window or into a looking glass?

 "What we are, that only can we see"- Ralph Emerson

  "All criticism is a form of autobiography"- Oscar Wilde


" Life is but a mirror, in whose reflection I see,

Not a myriad of others, but a little bit of me.

To accept its beauty and perfection, As if it all were true,

Must I not forget about whom I'm speaking, ''T 's me, not you." Robert Brehm


"The story always represents the storyteller."-Robert Brehm


On one end of a continuum, the term  interpersonal relationships may refer to a series of  temporal interactions between two or more individuals, or on the other end of the continuum the term interpersonal relations may refer to two, or more, individuals'  interactions, relationships, and structure preserved over generations of time. As the above aphorisms, and poem, are intended to illustrate,  the process in relationships is quite complex. 

Have you ever thought that when it comes to  interpersonal relationships, it may be more accurate to say that "believing is seeing, rather than saying " seeing is believing" ? Nevertheless, you  may not find it always easy to build, establish, and maintain relationships.

Actually research supports the following attributions:

SPH0012.GIF (1017 bytes)What we choose to see,

SPH0052.GIF (992 bytes)what we want  to see,

SPH0062.GIF (1006 bytes)or what we  expect to see 

may be a result of our own interpretations or perceptions. Perception refers to the process of gathering information from our sensory inputs whereby we, interpret what information means, and then decide, whether, if and how, to respond to a given situation.[1]

Self-perception theory and other perception theory, briefly stated, are theories that refer to a means of increasing our self-awareness. The concept" self-awareness"  refers to our ability to "observe ourselves, " or to introspect,  i.e., to notice how our  behavior, feelings and reactions are caused by our thinking. Self-perception  theory postulates that self-observation is important in increasing our self awareness. Other perception  theory, or social comparison theory, maintains that making comparisons with others is important in increasing our self-awareness.[2]

Both theories  provide us a theoretical basis for, understanding  our perceptions in interpersonal relationships and  provide us a practical means by  receiving  feedback  in order to assess our need for acquiring interpersonal effectiveness skills. Interpersonal effectiveness may be defined as   "the degree to which the consequences of our behavior,  match our intentions"[3].

How do you perceive your relationships?

( Take the following quiz )

 1. Would you like a relationship to be totally free of conflict? Yes No

2. Do you think that people who are in love should not have to ask each other for affection or consideration? Yes No

3. Do you expect the one you love to relieve you of anxieties which you cannot cope well with on your own ? Yes No

4. Do you discipline yourself so as not to bring troubles home with you? Yes No

5. Do you make an effort to avoid telling your partner unpleasant things and feelings about yourself? Yes No [4]

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then toxic patterns of thought and behavior are no doubt keeping you from the joy and satisfaction you could be experiencing in your closest relationship.

Even if you answered "no" to all the questions, you may be unaware of your need at your conscious level of awareness. Let's take a look at the illustration in the figure below.

Imagine your conscious  awareness of your  need for interpersonal effectiveness skills, is analogous to your conscious awareness of the tip of an iceberg floating on top of the water. You  believe you  see the entire iceberg, but actually most of it is underwater. Any disturbance to the tip of the iceberg usually does not change the balance floating above the water, but a change under the surface may even cause the iceberg to sink.

As with icebergs, so it is with relationships,. Sometimes what is happening is not at an obvious conscious awareness level, but rather at an unconscious awareness level.

 Increase your self-awareness by taking an inventory!

Take the 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire  before you complete lesson 10 and receive 50 points. You should email your instructor or call him at 206-930-4197 in order to receive your user name, password and  Website  for test administration.



Do you have a need to improve your interpersonal effectiveness? Interpersonal effectiveness refers to the degree to which the consequences of our behavior match with our intentions.[5]


John is walking along the sidewalk and bumps into someone and says, "I am sorry". Was John effective or not according to the definition of interpersonal effectiveness? Jane, on the other hand, bumps into someone and says, " Nice, bumping into you this morning." Was Jane effective or ineffective?  

 If yes, explain. your reasoning. If no, explain your reasoning. You should provide an example when answering questions.  Give an example when you have been effective or ineffective in your interpersonal relations.

 Hints: To receive full credit for your assignments  send email  in complete standard English sentences, provide operational definitions of words,  illustrate by  example, cite sources used in your answers, and provide reasoning when giving your own opinion and  support it with your own experience and examples.

You may also take other online inventories and receive 5 points per inventory. You must provide the URL, a summary of the findings, and provide  your reasoning how it is relevant to the course lessons. For example, you may wish to click your mouse pointer on the following hyperlinks [Online Personality] [Other Tests]

Explain how you  agree, or disagree, with the aphorisms and poem cited above. Be sure and cite the quotation, aphorism, or poem, to which you are referring.

Give examples from your own experience to support, or refute, those aphorisms and poem.

1.Hyperlink:  Don E. Hamachek,  Encounter with Others: Interpersonal Relationships and You, New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1997 p.3
2.  David W. Johnson,  Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self Actualization, 8th ed.,  Boston: Allyn and Bacon,
2003, p. 5
3.  David W. Johnson, Reaching Out: Interpersonal Effectiveness and Self-Actualization,8th ed., Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2003, p. 55
4.  Jerry Greenwald, Creative Intimacy,  Simon and Shuster, Inc., 1975 5. Ibid.,  D.W. Johnson, p.415       

Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.

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