The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication is here

I am really excited that this book, The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication, that has been in the works for a really long time, is finally almost here. The following is a clip from the publishers’ website promoting the book. Clicking on the image will take you to a few sample chapters written by some of the top scholars in the discipline of Organizational Communication.

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Immigrant Workers and Meanings of Work

My latest book, ‘Immigrant Workers and Meanings of Work: Communicating Life and Career Transitions’ is available at Amazon and other sellers. Below is a screenshot of the book on Amazon.com. You may click on the image to take you to the website or get there directly.

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Upcoming New Book: Immigrant Workers and Meanings of Work

Last month, the folks at Peter Lang sent over a proof of the final cover of my latest book to be released soon.

Immigrant Workers and Meanings of Work: Communicating Work and Life Transitions (co-edited with Elena Gabor)

I am really excited about it and can’t wait for the published copy to be out. This project began as a humble interest sparked in 2008 during the days of my doctoral studies and one that got stronger over the years until, identifying the lack of research connecting meanings of work to immigrant workers and vice versa, I initiated a conversation with my friend, Elena Gabor, on whether she would like to come aboard a book project idea with which I was tinkering.

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Update: Resigned from DePaul

I am back after a really long hiatus. A lot happened between writing my last blog and posting this current one. Among life’s major macro-transition was one that will perhaps, forever, change the course of my career. I resigned from DePaul University early in the Spring Quarter (2015) after six amazing years in order to relocate to the West Coast with my family. I have truly appreciated the time I spent at DePaul and in Chicago.

At DePaul, I got to work alongside some really brilliant and inspiring minds; colleagues who became friends; who are stalwarts in their respective sub-disciplines but down-to-earth and humble, friendly and loyal, not to mention great people with whom you actually want to hang out outside of work. I wrote and turned in that resignation letter with a heavy heart completely mindful of my agency in this matter as well as the subsequent consequences. No matter where I end up professionally, I shall remain eternally grateful to DePaul and its people for all the opportunities given to me; the relationships I was fortunate enough to foster; the lessons learned and taught, literally and figuratively speaking; and of course the many, many students I had the opportunity to teach, learn from, and mentor. What a privilege and pleasure the six years have been!

 

 

Guest Speaker: India’s Working Women and Career Discourses

I was invited as a guest speaker to one of DePaul’s Liberal Studies Program courses (Focal Point – Women and Work) taught by Dr. Nila Ginger Hofman, a professor in the Anthropology department. I was thrilled at the opportunity to speak to the mostly first year students. The students had read a chapter from my book, “India’s Working Women and Career Discourses: Society, Socialization, and Agency” and had prepared questions for me. Continue reading “Guest Speaker: India’s Working Women and Career Discourses”

Janice, the taxi driver

Given the extremely cold days that Chicago and Chicagoans have had to endure this winter, I have reluctantly given in to the luxury of taking a cab home after teaching my graduate seminar this quarter. Yesterday, my cab driver was Janice, an older African-American woman. I was pleased to be in my very first car ride with a woman driver. After exchanging pleasantries and admitting to her that this was my first time being driven by a woman, I started asking her about her work.

Because I love what I study and research – careers and meanings of work – every encounter with a “working” individual is a chance to learn more about their constructions of meaningful work and Janice was an engaged interviewee. I asked her why she rode a cab. (I did confess that I am a professor and that I study and teach about work and it’s meanings) She said it was like a business to her because she leases the cab for 24 hours and gets to set her schedule. As we continued to chat, I learned that she had been driving a cab for 9 years and really enjoyed it. Why does she enjoy it? She answered jovially by saying that “people are always coming and going” in her cab and she enjoys meeting so many new people all the time. I also learned that Janice is voluntary cook at a shelter. When I asked her what the meaning of this work was for her, she repeated her ability to have a flexible schedule. Then, she said that she liked that she helped people in her job. “How so?” She believes she helps people because she takes people to their destinations. She said she wasn’t very religious but still felt there was a hand of God in what she did and “it is also very good money!”, she said smilingly.

Before we could chat more, I had arrived home and Janice had indeed helped me get to my destination thereby fulfilling the meaning she saw in her work everyday. She is an amazing conversationalist and throughout our 5-6 minute cab ride, her smile never once left her face. She was very pleasant to chat to and I really wished I had had more time to engage with her.

With regard to meanings of work, Janice appeared to have both, intrinsic as well as extrinsic reasons to find meaningfulness in her work. Her subjective interpretation of meaningful work as helping someone was unexpected for me just because I never saw the role of a cab driver from a purely functional angle. Of course it absolutely makes sense now but to see it internalized and expressed clearly from a cab driver’s perspective was new for me.

I hope to continue interviewing more people  “at work” and will update this blog accordingly. To see some of the amazing interviews my students have conducted in the past, go to https://themeaningofworkproject.wordpress.com

Meditation in the Classroom

Last Wednesday, Hillary Johnson of Calm Chicago came to my class and spoke to my students about ‘Mindfulness and Meditation’. After connecting via LinkedIn in the Spring, I first met Hillary at a coffee shop to pitch my idea of her visiting my class and speaking to my students, an engagement she graciously accepted. A few weeks ago, Chris Cinnamon visited my class and spoke to my students about the significance of breathing right, and posture and alignment, in addition to demonstrating a few Tai Chi moves. He even invited my students and me to try a couple of classes at Enso Tai Chi, something I might actually take him up on in a few months.

Many of my students have taken on meditation as part of their Happiness Projects and were therefore looking forward to Hillary’s visit to understand and learn more about what they had potentially, hitherto, only read about. Some were practicing meditation but as it became evident from students’ comments on their Reflections assignment, none had done so in a guided manner. Hillary’s guest presentation included an explanation of the need for a holistic understanding/rationale for prioritizing our mental health/emotional well-being. She explained and elaborated on the concepts symbolized by RAIN or Recognize, Accept, Investigate, and Not-Identify/not-self, among other things, and then led a meditation session in the classroom that lasted a little over 20 minutes.

Hillary Johnson, Founder, CalmChicago presents 'Mindfulness and Meditation'
Hillary Johnson, Founder, CalmChicago presents ‘Mindfulness and Meditation’

Students’ reactions at the end of the meditation session were a bag of emotions ranging from feelings of calm and restfulness, to surprise (many thought they had only been meditating for under 5 minutes and were surprised to find that we had been at it for 23 minutes), ease of physical pain, focus, and reduced stress. During our discussion, students talked about how they had never had a guided meditation session before and the impact of what they had experienced was truly profound. Several of them are now seriously considering doing this as a matter of habit. I am proud of my students for being open to new experiences. Perhaps some of them will indeed be able to pursue lifelong meditation and some may not but the intentions are noble and a good place to start.

I am further encouraged to introduce a quick 5 minutes ‘Centering of the Self’ time for all my face-to-face classes from now on. Of course, 5 minutes aren’t enough but it will force all of us, students and instructor, to just hit ‘pause’ for a few minutes, take a few deep breaths, re-center ourselves from the craziness that life before and after our class will unleash on us, and just use those few minutes to calm ourselves. I think I really will incorporate this into all my classes.