I hate meeting new people. In fact, I pride myself on having very bad first impressions of all my dearest friends. First meetings always overwhelm me, with their stilted conversation and suspicious feelings on both sides. This theory helped me to formulate a new plan for the next time I meet a person. I can establish common ground as quickly as possible. The faster we find similarities, the more nonverbal warmth, verbal communication, self-disclosure, and liking will increase. If I can get over having bad first impressions, I may be on my way to starting better friendships.
I tend to use a "passive strategy," observing others from a distance before approaching them with an "active strategy" for gaining information. However, with the new director of Drama Workout (Dave), I have a lot of interest at stake. I have spent the largest part of my time at Wheaton investing in the theater. I began an interactive strategy right away with Dave, going into his office, introducing myself and some of my "story" as a senior—being "transparent" in order to increase reciprocity from Dave.
Dave hid a serious question in a joke by "hedging" as Berger calls it. Right away, loudly and inappropriately he said, "So! Are you disappointed that I'm not Mark Lewis?" It was so out of place to say that we both laughed which gave me the change to answer it or treat it as a joke.
Laughing relaxed us and I did answer the question. I liked his straight-forwardness. I am more like that with my friends. It was the first of a series of great conversations. I realized that Dave was open and thick-skinned and opinionated which made me more comfortable to ask my hard questions, which I am known for. I knew that my personality would not be a threat to him, my uncertainty of potential offense was reduced and our intimacy and liking went up.
This theory actually makes me think of this guy named Bob that I like. I've had a crush on him for quite some time. The problem is that I don't think he is interested. So, I've used all three information-seeking methods to try to limit my uncertainty about Bob. I observe him when he least expects it. I weasel information from a friend who knows him very well, and, on the off chance that he decides to talk to me, I ask him questions about himself. So, I've successfully reduced uncertainty about Bob and, in the process, my crush has grown stronger. This still leaves me with the problem of my unrequited "love". But, the uncertainty reduction theory has provided me with a solution. I need to merely share about myself because "to know her is to love her!" Perhaps I should send anonymous notes to Bob through the campus mail. "FYI: Erin is a communications major who loves fun, the beach, swimming, her little sister, and cookies." I wonder what Berger would say about that?
After developing a friendship with Heather for four months, we decided to start dating. During that time, I had the opportunity to meet her family. When I first met her father, axiom #1 presented itself in our conversation as the conversation seemed to be fragmented. We talked about random subjects because neither one of us had even a small working knowledge of who the other person was or how he thought. Axion #2 presented itself as we both frequently looked away to avoid the tension and discomfort of staring into each other's eyes. Her father and I both sought information about the other as we tried to figure out who the other person was and make some familiar connections. The conversation revolved around ambiguous topics with low self-disclosure. Now that I am more familiar with her father, I no longer need to be so information seeking because I no longer have so much uncertainty. We have grown to have more certainty in who the other person is, thus providing me with more certainty in my behavioral and cognitive questions.