It seems reasonable to state that being an English professor implies a considerable extent of responsibilities. Moreover, there is clear evidence from the case study that this field may contain many issues related to conflicts and communication. English professors are highly concerned about their image due to the following reasons. First, their reputation is the foundation for the way students perceive these professors’ personalities; this is essential as, during the courses, the mentioned students’ perceptions tend to form their attitude to the subject to a great degree. Second, such a high status in the academic dimension implies the adherence to specific standards, on which the overall respect of the colleagues is founded. Finally, the English professor’s image may determine relationships with the administration. This is crucial as well, given the fact that the University’s government may be considered as a source of the necessary resources for the course – starting from books and laptops and ending with premises.
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Here, it should be stressed that the chosen case study provides a notable example of a conflict that should be resolved. The English professor is put in an extremely uncomfortable situation that is related to the rationale presented above. This situation may be analyzed through the input-thruput-output prism. Within the scope of the conflict between the professor and the student, the input includes the pre-existing opinions of the grade issue from the professor’s and the student’s perspectives. Then, the thruput seems to be reflected in the parties’ behaviors – the student’s decision to make a request to the appeals referee and the professor’s response to such an action. The output – according to the case study – is the professor’s hesitations regarding her decision, as well as her reflections in this vein.
For the professor, there seems to be an apparent problem of inflexibility in the framework of the theme. In particular, her approach to communication with students demonstrates a low extent of adaptability to the conflicts that may concern her “face.” The latter means “the communicator’s claim to be seen as a certain kind of person (Folger et al., 2021, p. 180). The case study may be related to the professor’s “negative face” that can be defined, according to Folger et al. (2021), as the desire for autonomy. The English professor is under pressure because her authority to give particular marks to the students autonomously is challenged. For her, the situation is uncomfortable, as this professor assumes that if she changes her decision, the students will change their attitudes towards her and try to improve their marks by continuous and unreasonable requests to the appeals referee.
Here, it may be rational to turn to the essence of the conflict from the mentioned appeals referee’s perspective. He or she is also a crucial party in the situation, given the capability to decide whether the student’s request – an important input in terms of the conflict – is reasonable or not. It might be suggested that the English professor’s concern for her future image can assist the appeals referee to a considerable extent. He or she should take into account the fact that this professor’s reputation defines – as stated above – the way the students perceive the subject to an exact extent, as well as how to communicate with the knowledge provider. The professor cares about the learning process and wants it to be appropriately arranged. Such a rationale allows assuming that the appeals referee would resolve the case in favor of the English professor.
In the framework of the theme given, it might be proper to provide an example of a conflict in which I felt one’s concern about image contributed to inflexibility similar to the situation described above. In the company of my friends, there is John who cares much about what we think of him. He wants us to perceive him as a stubborn and goal-oriented person and always seeks our approval. Such an approach demonstrates the case of “positive face” that means “a person’s desire to acquire the approval of others” (Folger et al., 2021, p. 180). He had an exam, during which John had such a degree of anxiety and hesitations that he lost consciousness; the doctor was summoned. After this, he understood that his “face” – as a person he wants us to see – was lost. John’s image of a confident and stress-resistant individual was inflexible, and after the issue, he felt uncomfortable and diffident for a considerable period. It took a long time for us to bring back his “positive face” and the inherent traits. This example demonstrates the significance of the communication theory expediently.
To conclude, the case study related to “face-saving” and the related issue of inflexibility was discussed. The theory of “face” and the input-thruput-output approach to analyzing a conflict were applied in order to consider the given situation appropriately. It was suggested that the appeals referee would decide in favor of the English professor due to her responsible attitude towards the learning process. Finally, an example from my personal experience that emphasizes the importance and appropriacy of communication concepts was provided.
Folger, J. P., Poole, M. S., & Stutman, R. K. (2021). Working through conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations (9th ed.). Taylor & Francis.
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